As we learn more and more about insulin resistance, we are beginning to discover just how big a role insulin resistance plays in the cause of many common chronic diseases. Once thought to simply be a comorbidity that co-occurs with a more primary condition, studies are revealing that insulin resistance might be a much bigger player than previously thought.
Many of us don’t give much thought to the hormone insulin. Unless we are diabetic or pre-diabetic there is almost no reason to think about this process that occurs in our bodies regularly. So in case you are unfamiliar, let's quickly break it down.
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas whose main job is to regulate our blood sugar levels. Shortly after eating, the pancreas releases this hormone into your bloodstream in order to facilitate the moving of glucose (carbohydrates which have been broken down) into your cells to provide fuel to be used for energy. It's an important and complex process to be sure, and as a result of the glucose having been moved inside the cells, your blood sugar is lowered back to baseline - all thanks to the secretion of the hormone insulin.
Insulin resistance is what happens when your cells do not respond properly during this process. The blood sugar remains elevated since the glucose was never transferred into the cells, the pancreas begins over producing insulin, and even so, the cells never receive the fuel they need. Your body continues to think that more insulin is necessary in order to complete this process, and so the pancreas works on overdrive producing insulin.
Insulin Resistance and Chronic Diseases
We know there is a close relationship between insulin resistance and inflammation and several chronic diseases- obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases to name just a few. The picture is becoming clearer, however, how inflammation and insulin resistance are the root causes of these chronic diseases.
Insulin resistance and chronic inflammation often appear alongside obesity, and all of these are associated with increased risk of chronic diseases. Insulin resistance is one of the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome, a group of five conditions that, when occur together, can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health conditions, according to Heart.org. These conditions include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, obesity, and more.
This study revealed that women with both inflammation and insulin resistance were associated with increased risk in all of the health risk categories researched, including cancer, new chronic pulmonary disease, and death, among others.
Another study revealed the role that insulin resistance played in the development of chronic kidney disease. Several factors, including chronic inflammation contributed to insulin resistance and consequently the development of chronic kidney disease
Meanwhile, this study showed that insulin resistance played a direct role in the development of and progression of chronic liver disease- especially chronic hepatitis C and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Yet a different study discussed the role of vitamin D on insulin resistance, leading to the development of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
The findings are clear: insulin resistance and inflammation are the root causes of many common chronic diseases.
Reverse Insulin Resistance
The good news is insulin resistance can be reversed with dietary and lifestyle changes. Exercise (especially weight training), weight loss, controlling insulin spikes by lowering carbohydrate intake and other specific dietary adjustments can all be helpful remedies when it comes to reversing insulin resistance. Lifestyle factors include getting adequate restorative sleep, and addressing and managing stress levels with stress-relieving activities. For an article on lowering stress hormones naturally then check out my blog HERE
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