The U.S. Department of health and human services reported that in 2014, 25.8 million Americans are suffering from diabetes and 7 million individuals are unaware that they have this disease. One of the first signs of developing diabetes may be insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that signals cells in the body to allow the glucose that is ingested through the diet to enter the body’s cells. Without insulin, glucose will not be able to enter the cells to be used by the body for energy, which can cause a number of different problems to occur. This is what happens in insulin resistance. Eating a diet that is high in simple sugars can cause your blood sugar to spike very high after meals, and crash again shortly after, leading to a similar spike and plummet of insulin. Over time this causes the body to stop responding to insulin, which in turn keeps glucose from entering the cells. Insulin resistance is diagnosed by measuring the levels of glucose in the blood. In insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, blood glucose will usually be elevated.
Although lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise are the major factors contributing to insulin resistance, other factors such as certain medications, pregnancy and genetics may also play a role. Current management of insulin resistance that exists without the presence of type 2 diabetes involves improvement of the diet and implementation of an exercise program. If the condition progresses to type 2 diabetes, it may become necessary to manage the condition with insulin or other medications prescribed by your physician1. If you are suffering from insulin resistance, implementing positive lifestyle changes is imperative to prevent the condition from progressing to type 2 diabetes.
Exercising, ingesting a lower calorie or low sugar diet, and supplementing antioxidants and fish oil, have all been found to decrease insulin resistance. One study, conducted on a group of 30 women with metabolic syndrome, examined the effects of fish oil on insulin resistance. They found that 0.41g of EPA and DHA per day had a significant impact on insulin resistance as well as blood pressure. A decrease of approximately 6 mg/dL in glucose levels was observed in the group receiving the fish oil supplements, compared with a 3mg/dL decrease in glucose levels of the control group. Another study found that daily supplementation with a combination of vitamin E, vitamin C and S-adenosylmethionine have also helped manage insulin resistance by reducing postprandial insulin response1. However, the most significant change in the response of glucose to insulin is found in response to improved diet and exercise. Along with type 2 diabetes, it is directly linked to obesity, and therefore weight loss is also a very important factor in improving health and reversing and preventing the progression of symptoms.
1. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 May 2014. Web. 19 Aug. 2014
2. Chowdhury, K., Legare, D., Lautt, W. Lifestyle impact on meal-induced insulin sensitization in health and prediabetes: A focus on diet, antioxidants, and exercise interventions. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2013; 91: 91-100.
3. Carvalho, A., Uehara, S., Netto, J., Rosa, G. Hypocaloric diet associated with the consumption of jam enriched with microencapsulated fish oil decreases insulin resistance. Nutr. Hosp. 2014; 29(5): 1103-1108.
Dr. Alesha Fleming
Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic, LLC
Daytona Beach, FL
Dr. Fleming is a family chiropractor in Daytona Beach, Florida. She is passionate about preventative health care and nutrition and enjoys empowering her patients to improve their health and fitness, one day at a time!