Insulin resistance is a term that describes the body’s inability to respond properly to insulin, reducing the hormone’s effectiveness in controlling blood glucose levels.
The knock on effects of insulin resistance is that it forces the body to increase production of insulin, which in turn raises blood pressure, cholesterol levels and makes it harder for the body to maintain adequate blood glucose control.
What causes insulin resistance?
Research is gradually uncovering more about what causes insulin resistance. Recent studies indicate that having an excessive amount of fat, known as visceral fat, around the internal organs may cause a chain of events that lead to the development of insulin resistance.
Visceral fat is more likely to accumulate if you are overweight or obese.
Insulin resistance can also occur as a result of certain medications including corticosteroids and beta blockers. Such cases may be referred to as drug-induced diabetes.
During pregnancy, increases in hormone levels can combine with existing susceptibility to insulin resistance to cause the development of gestational diabetes.
What are the symptoms of insulin resistance
Symptoms of insulin resistance vary depending on how severe it is. If insulin is low to moderate, symptoms may be difficult to notice as tends to be the case with prediabetes.
If insulin resistance is more pronounced, such as in type 2 diabetes, symptoms of hyperglycemia, the classic signs of diabetes may be noticed, including:
- Increased thirst
- Increased need to urinate
- Persistent hunger
- Persistent fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of wounds
Reducing insulin resistance
The most effective strategies for reducing insulin resistance have been those that involve weight loss.
Very low calorie diets and bariatric surgery have been shown by research to lead to significant weight loss and allow successful participants to substantially reduce and even come off diabetes medication.
The diabetes drug metformin also helps to improve insulin sensitivity, albeit less dramatically than with substantial weight loss.
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Last reviewed: January 16, 2015 at 16:55
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