A majority of people around the world, especially the millennials and middle-aged men and women, would have heard of insulin resistance at least once in their life. It is a condition of the new generation and is being held responsible for a number of associated conditions.
Insulin resistance is one of the biggest driving factors for Type II diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus. Additionally, it is also known to cause gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
Even though people have heard of insulin resistance, they still don’t understand clearly how it emerges and affects the different cells in the body. This article explores what insulin resistance is and how it can affect the body of an individual. Additionally, it examines some of the common signs of insulin resistance that people may ignore and why it should sound like an alarm to them.
Insulin resistance: What is it all about?
The pancreas in the human body produces insulin, which is a hormone responsible for letting the cells use glucose (sugar) from the blood for energy. This hormone is released after a person has had a meal.
If the insulin is not able to work properly or if it is not properly utilized by the cells, the glucose from the food we eat is not used up by the cells to produce energy. Instead, it is converted into fat. This fat may get stored under the skin at specific areas, while the rest of it may get accumulated in the liver.
Bad lifestyle and dietary choices can trigger the pancreas to produce more and more of insulin. Consistently high levels of insulin may make the body cells ignore it. As a result, they may become resistant to insulin over a period of time. Therefore, the insulin gradually loses its ability to make the cells take up glucose for energy needs. This reduced effectiveness of insulin and the inability of the cells to utilize insulin is known as insulin resistance. It eventually leads to a buildup of glucose in the blood and may lead to prediabetes or diabetes.
What are the common signs of insulin resistance?
Identifying the signs of insulin resistance is the first steps toward avoiding the complications associated with it. Knowing whether you have insulin resistance actually helps introduce changes in life that can prevent serious complications and repercussions associated with prolonged insulin resistance.
The following are some of the physical signs that indicate insulin resistance:
- Accumulation of fat around the waist or abdominal region: As the circumference of an individual increase, the insulin becomes even more ineffective. As a result, the levels of this hormone continues to rise in the body.
- Increased tendency to eat sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods: People with insulin resistance do not feel satiated easily. There is no food that can satisfy their hunger as foods rich in sugar and carbs.
- Noticeable scalp hair loss suggesting male-pattern baldness: People who experience hair thinning or hair loss that is a characteristic of male-pattern baldness often have insulin resistance. This is characterized by hair thinning or loss from the front or from the sides.
- High blood sugar levels: Fasting blood sugar levels greater than 100mg/dL often indicate insulin resistance.
- Persistent acne, pores, and greasy facial skin: Increased insulin levels and the presence of similar insulin-like growth factor 1 trigger the release of testosterone, which is a hormone responsible for manly features. This increases the sensitivity of the face to testosterone. This results in large pores, persistant acne, and greasy skin.
Some of the clinical signs that indicate insulin resistance:
- You have been diagnosed with fatty liver
- You have been diagnosed with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- You have Acanthosis nigricans, characterized by dark patches in the body areas with folds and creases
- You have swollen ankles or fluid retention somewhere else in the body
- You have elevated uric acid in the body or suffer from gout
Why is insulin resistance a cause for concern?
Insulin resistance should be a cause of concern for every individual who is at its risk or shows its signs. Many people think of diabetes when they hear the word insulin. However, insulin has a lot more to do that just with the blood sugar levels.
In fact, problems with insulin may result in a number of conditions, even in people with absolutely normal blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance may increase the risk of numerous conditions, including obesity, cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and heart disorders. It may shorten the overall lifespan and tremendously affect the quality of life.
There are a number of reasons why insulin resistance should be a cause for concern. The three most important of them include the following:
- The signs and symptoms of insulin resistance can be subtle and hard to identify in many people. In fact, insulin resistance is only established and diagnosed when the doctor orders a fasting or post-prandial serum insulin blood test for individuals who are at risk. Many times, the doctors do not show their willingness to order this test. This is extremely risky as undiagnosed insulin resistance can severely affect the quality of life.
- The modern diet and lifestyle of people are bound to worsen this epidemic of insulin resistance. Because of sedentary jobs, unhealthy eating habits and a spike in obesity, the pancreas of a majority of individuals is now producing more insulin than it actually should. This can be tremendously harmful to the health of people who are leading this lifestyle and if nothing is done to prevent or control insulin resistance.
- Insulin plays a major role in the human body. When the cells in the body become resistant to this hormone and stop responding to it, some part of the biological machinery may come to a halt. This can lead to a number of conditions that may trouble the health in the long-run and lead to psychological, physical, and emotional damage.