03 Jul What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition whereby the cells of your body don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin. It is directly associated with type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, prediabetes and obesity, however, one can be insulin resistant without being obese.
Insulin’s job is push blood sugar (glucose) into the cells (any cells) to be used as fuel. Once the cells have been fuelled, insulin pushes the remaining blood sugar to the fat cells to be stored as ‘back-up’ fuel (fat). In a healthy person, most of the blood sugar would be burned up in a short period of time which would reduce the need for your body to store any of it as fat.
In the case of is insulin resistance, the cells resist the insulin and essentially reject the fuel that is on offer. As a response, the body then produces more and more insulin, supposedly to try and force the blood sugar out of the blood and into any cells that will take it (pretty much only the fat cells). This ends in too much insulin flowing through the blood which is called hyperinsulinemia (too-much-insulin-itis), and it comes with a bouquet of nasty symptoms like:
- Weight gain
- Hard-core sugar cravings
- Intense hunger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of focus and motivation
- Anxiety and panicky-ness
- And a whole bunch more…
The three most important symptoms in the list are weight gain, fatigue and inflammation.
Weight gain – when cells resist the insulin and reject the fuel, insulin drives the blood sugar to the fat cells. If the cycle repeats itself, which it does constantly in those with insulin resistance, you end up storing any excess blood sugar as fat. In other words anything you eat or do that raises your blood sugar will make you fat.
Fatigue – With all of this fuel getting stored as fat, and being used as fuel, the body ends up operating without easy access to fuel. That makes you feel tired and look lazy. It’s not you. It’s your insulin resistance.
Inflammation – although insulin serves a vital role in the body, it is inflammatory in nature. It is supposed to come into your blood, do its job and then leave. It wasn’t designed to hangout in the blood for hours on end, which it ends up doing in those with insulin resistance. In the words of Jason Fung, ‘you are marinating yourself in insulin’. For an hour or two this is harmless but over five, ten, thirty or forty years, this will cause chronic inflammation which is associated with almost every chronic illness that exists.
If you do the math, you’ll see how insulin resistance may be at the core of the world’s most prevalent health epidemics.