If you are a keen fitness enthusiast or just someone who pays more attention to health, fitness and diet than the common man or woman then you may have heard a lot about insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance. Let me touch upon these topics today. Basically the terms mean the ability of a certain amount of insulin to coax glucose into muscles and cells. If insulin resistance is high then it takes more amounts of insulin to get the same job done than if the insulin resistance is low. Any person who desires to start a diet plan must understand the concept of insulin resistance. Let me break up the concept of insulin for you below:
- Insulin is a key component in the formation, breakdown and utilization of both dietary and body fat. Weight gain, fat gain and obesity is often a result of excessive insulin resistance.
- Insulin prevents fat breakdown and the clumping of platelets in the blood. A person with high insulin resistance is prone to coronary heart diseases and stroke.
- High levels of insulin (hyperinsulinaemia) causes oxidative damage increases free radical damage to tissues in the body and accelerates aging.
- Insulin plays a role in diet-induced thermogenesis which is the amount of energy that is released subsequent to the digestion and absorption of food. Thus, insulin resistance may be involved in defective thermogenesis which is seen in those who have diabetes. Decreasing thermogenesis can lead, among other things, to weight and body fat gain.
- Finally, by crossing the blood-brain barrier, insulin exerts a host of central effects collectively resembling a stress reaction in the body.
A person who is insulin resistant has cells that do not respond fast enough to actions of insulin. After having a meal, this person will have high blood glucose levels that signal more insulin to be released from the pancreas until the glucose is absorbed by the cells. The result is that for any given diet, those who are insulin resistant will have higher blood sugar levels. Insulin is also responsible for transporting fats and amino acids into various cells. Sluggish movement of insulin can hinder the anabolic effects of exercise. People who are insulin-resistant often have high levels of triglycerides. Since elevated triglycerides usually coincide with low HDL, both are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Increased insulin resistance affects us at a very basic level by influencing the way we handle the foods we consume. At one end of the scale, insulin resistance can result in an increase in weight and body fat while on the other hand, it can contribute to adult-onset diabetes (type II),
Environmental Triggers for Genetic Predisposition to Insulin Resistance.
Obesity is a major factor in increasing insulin resistance. People who are overweight show signs of insulin resistance more often than people who are normal weight.
Diet is very important, and studies have shown that a diet high in simple sugars can increase insulin resistance, and result in chronic hyperinsulinemia. Over-consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as simple sugars, and starches such as found in baked goods, breads, pastas, and potatoes can be a contributor.
· Dietary Fat
Eating too much saturated fat (such as beef) and omega-6 fatty acids (such as vegetable oils) also seems to increase the risk of insulin resistance.
· Lack of Exercise
Being overweight can dramatically increase your risk of developing insulin resistance. On the other hand, being underweight is not much better since lack of exercise can also increase insulin sensitivity and is somewhat comparable in terms of your body’s metabolic activity to being fat. Exercise has been shown to have dramatic effects on increasing insulin sensitivity via increased oxidative enzymes, glucose transporters (GLUT4) and capillarity (increasing the smallest vessels and thus the flow of blood) in muscle as well as by reducing abdominal fat.
· Lifestyle (etc.)
Poor lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, not getting enough sleep and chronic stress can predispose a person to insulin resistance, secondary to elevated stress hormones such as cortisol and the catecholamines.
How To tell If you Are Insulin Resistant
The usual signs and symptoms of insulin resistance include fatigue and weariness, both after you eat and generally throughout the day and especially at night. People with Insulin Resistance also tend to put on weight and body fat, have increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and also a feeling of always being under the weather and unwell.
How To Become More Insulin Sensitive
One of the best ways to combat insulin resistance is to stop leading a sedentary lifestyle and start incorporating more physical activity into your life by doing exercise, yoga, walking or running. Exercise makes the body more receptive to the effects of Insulin and improves an individual’s ability to dissolve blood clots and lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other Benefits of Insulin Sensitivity
Apart from the positive benefits of better cardiovascular health, increasing insulin sensitivity can also help you to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat.
What to Do About It
If you are worried that you may have a good degree of insulin resistance, there are some solutions for the same. For example, if you are overweight if you lose 10 – 15 % of your current body weight can bring your blood pressure down and increase your cells’ sensitivity to insulin. Exercise also improves lipid profile and raises HDL blood levels, even without weight loss. Also make it a point to make lifestyle changes. If you can get a good night’s sleep and decrease stress levels, it would go a long way to increasing insulin sensitivity.
Consult a Dietician and Improve Your Diet
The final step is to improve your diet. A diet which is high in protein and low in carbs is also ideal. Higher-fat levels in the diet, to complement the low-carbs, as long as there’s a healthy helping of the omega 3 fatty acids, will also be useful. Do remember to visit a Dietician for more specific Dietary changes because even though you can start exercising and improve your diet and lifestyle, there is more to increasing your insulin sensitivity. That is because because as a Nutritionist will tell you that there are a number of nutritional compounds, including chromium, fish oil, lipoic acid and vanadyl sulphate that are very effective for decreasing insulin resistance as well as alleviating secondary problems such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
If you are feeling tired and weary all the time and if you are obese, come and visit us for a initial check-up and consultation. Call on 98206 07875. With proper diet and supplementation, we can put you on the road to decreasing your insulin resistance and increase your insulin sensitivity.