Jan 27 2014

What Is Insulin Resistance?

  Insulin resistance (IR) is the precursor to Diabetes Type 2, the biggest health challenge facing the UK at the moment.  I would say that 90% of the clients we see at Salecca have a degree of IR without even knowing it.  In fact, if you’re reading this and you…

 

Insulin resistance (IR) is the precursor to Diabetes Type 2, the biggest health challenge facing the UK at the moment.  I would say that 90% of the clients we see at Salecca have a degree of IR without even knowing it.  In fact, if you’re reading this and you carry your weight around your middle, you are suffering from insulin resistance.

High insulin levels are proved to cause any number of the following:

Furred arteries, Polycystic ovary syndrome, Heart disease, Breast cancer & Arthritis

What is Insulin and how does it work?

Insulin is produced in the pancreas, and it is used to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.  It is a powerful hormone used to store all macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats).  Whenever we eat food, insulin is released to store it away so it can be used as energy during times of physical exertion or stress.

It’s important to note that when the body detects insulin in the blood, it inhibits the breakdown of stored fat (tryglycerides), protein (muscle fibre) and carb (glycogen), as insulin signals that energy is being stockpiled.  This can make losing weight very difficult.

What causes IR?

“The most significant cause is related to body weight…especially fat that is carried around the middle.  This is compounded by a sedentary lifestyle and resulting lack of muscle tissue, ageing, stress, high blood pressure and excessive consumption of carbohydrates…  Digestive health also plays a key role.”

By the time you hit adolescence the number of fat cells you have is fixed.  What happens as you age and begin to put on more weight is the cells become distended and swollen.  After a while these cells fill-up and can no longer expand.

As with fat, you can only store a certain amount of carbohydrates within your muscles as glycogen.  All foods trigger an insulin release, however carbohydrates due to their ease of absorption (especially when refined), cause the biggest response. If you continue to flush your system with sugar (biscuits, white grains such as wheat, and porridge oats), the muscle will also reach capacity very quickly.  Luckily, unlike fat cells you can reset your muscle glycogen stores through exercise.  This is especially the case with heavy weights training, as this depletes the muscles of glycogen far more than any other form of exercise.  When you are not exercising, your fat and muscle cells will reach their limit of storage, and this is when you start to have problems with insulin resistance.

What is IR?

IR is the failure of the body to respond to the insulin that is within the body.  Once your stores are full, the excess fats and sugars begin to circulate in your bloodstream causing the production of bad cholesterol and high blood sugar levels.  The pancreas acknowledges the problem and continues to pump more and more insulin into your body.  If left unchecked, high insulin levels continually oxidise all your organs.  What is oxidation?  If you were to bite into an apple, leave it for an hour and come back, the brown collection is oxidation.  Now imagine your body rusting on the inside in just the same way as the apple.

How can we fix it?

Exercise alone cannot prevent insulin resistance, as you can easily consume more calories than you’ve burnt off, but it can dampen its severity. Changing your nutrition (not going on a diet), together with exercise are the best ways to deal with the situation.  Even if you were to develop full blown Type 2 diabetes, these two can help eliminate it completely. However, if things are not turned around quickly enough then the pancreas burns out from the months or years of over-work.  If by then you have not gained control over your weight, you will be left with diabetes Type 1, which is an inability to make any insulin at all. This will need managing the rest of your adult life.

Salman Kassam

 

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Salman