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What is Insulin Resistance?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Did you know that half of all adults in the US have insulin resistance? That is 1 in 3 people who are KNOWN to have it. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of cases has doubled, worldwide, in the past 3 decades. The scary part is most people don’t know they have it, they just know they feel like garbage 99% of the time.


WHAT IS INSULIN?

Insulin is a hormone our pancreas makes to regulate our blood glucose levels unless you have Type 1 Diabetes, in which case your pancreas doesn’t make insulin at all. Insulin is a protein that moves through our blood and affects every other part of our bodies. So, when we eat food that increases our blood glucose, like apples, cake, or potatoes, the pancreas releases insulin, then the insulin “escorts” the glucose from our blood to different parts of our body, like our brain, heart, muscle, and fat tissue. Insulin affects every cell. It’s kind of a big deal. In short, insulin regulates how cells use energy. Does the cell burn, grow, live, or die? Insulin is an anabolic hormone. It can make bigger things out of smaller things.


INSULIN RESISTANCE

When a cell stops responding to insulin, it becomes insulin resistant. So then, cells need more than “normal” amounts of insulin to get the same response as before. This puts blood levels of insulin higher than they were and can cause the insulin not to work as well. When we talk about “blood sugar”, or technically “blood glucose” levels, this is the amount of glucose that is in our blood. Glucose is the final form of any carbohydrate it is digested. Constant high blood glucose levels are dangerous and potentially lethal, hence why we have insulin to usher glucose out of the blood and lower our glucose levels back to normal. But as insulin resistance sets in this process don’t work as well leaving someone with constantly high blood glucose levels. The scary part is Insulin resistance can be present a long time before someone develops type 2 diabetes. So, you could have it and not know it.

There is much more to this story, and this is just the beginning. Insulin resistance opens the doors for a monsoon of other health-related problems. We will save that for another day.


Source: “Why We Get Sick” by Ben Bikman PhD, Pages 1-7

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