What Is Insulin Resistance?

When we eat sugars and carbohydrates this raises our blood glucose levels.

Some of this glucose is utilised into energy for everyday cellular activity of the body.

Excess glucose in the blood is then 'mopped up' by insulin, produced from the pancreas, converts the glucose into glycogen which is then temporarily stored in the liver. This glycogen is then either utilised for more energy or converted into fat stores.

Insulin resistance is where the pancreas becomes impaired and does not produce enough insulin to meet the complete conversion of all excess glucose molecules in the bloodstreamOver time, the beta-cells, which are the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, become less and less capable of meeting insulin demands.

As a result, blood glucose levels begin to escalate, causing pre-diabetes and eventually type 2 diabetes.Some patients with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, whereas others have insulin deficiency.In the United States, an estimated 60 to 70 million individuals are affected by insulin resistance. Statistics report that more than 40% of individuals older than 50 years may be at risk for insulin resistance, however, it can affect anyone at any age.

Many health experts also believe that insulin resistance has a major role in the development of the metabolic syndromeInsulin resistance plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of other serious medical conditions as well, including obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The growing obesity epidemic in the UK continues to escalate the number of individuals at risk for developing insulin resistance, even in the paediatric patient.

Insulin resistance has also been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Current studies suggest that 50% to 70% of women with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance

Symptoms of Insulin ResistanceSymptoms associated with insulin resistance vary among individuals.

Many individuals with insulin resistance do not experience any symptoms until they present with a severe form of the condition.

Some patients may present with unexplained weight gain.Treating Insulin ResistanceThe goals of treating insulin resistance are to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease health complications, improve overall health, and decrease morbidity and mortality.

Lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, weight loss, exercise, cessation or reduction of alcohol use, and cessation of smoking, are typically first lines of defence in managing insulin resistance.

Medications such as GLP-1 receptors eg Liraglutide (Saxenda) help combat the onset of insulin resistance by stimulating the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin, but also have the ability to efficiently convert fat stores into a readily available source of glucose energy for cellular activity. Consuming less sugar and relying on our own fat reserves for energy is a positive way to lose weight, prevent the onset of chronic disease, live longer and healthier lives

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