Diet Tips of How to Reverse Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome
What is insulin resistance (IR)?
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body cells do not respond properly to the effects of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps your body cells absorbs glucose from the bloodstream for fuel. Because their body cells cannot utilize insulin effectively, patients with insulin experience high levels of glucose. This may lead to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where the level of blood glucose is above normal but not high enough to be seen as type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is a metabolic problem that results in high levels of blood sugar because the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the body cells becomes resistance to the insulin it produces. Although type 2 diabetes has no cure, most patients with this condition can control their blood glucose levels through healthy diet and regular exercise. Gestational diabetes is a medical condition where pregnant women have high levels of blood glucose, which normally disappears after pregnancy. It is not yet known why some patients develop IR while others don’t. However, studies shows that insulin resistance usually occurs as a result of obesity.
Signs of IR
Some patients who have insulin resistance do not experience any warning signs and symptoms. In case you do not check your blood sugar levels regularly, you can have IR for a long period without noticing. Some patients with IR may have a skin problem known as acanthosis nigricans, which results in dark patches behind the neck, under the armpit, and groin. When IR leads to high levels of blood sugar, patients may start to experience symptoms such as:
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides levels
- Increase in weight
- Problem concentrating
Causes of IR
Even though the exact cause of this condition is not established, there are different factors that can cause insulin resistance. Genetics is one of the leading causes of IR. Insulin resistance can also be caused by the following factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity;
- Having stress that is chronic;
- Taking steroids in high doses for long periods;
- High carbohydrate diet or caloric diet;
- Cushing’s disease;
- Metabolic syndrome;
Tips of how to reverse insulin resistance
Studies continue to show that IR can be reversed through healthy lifestyle changes. Therefore, it is important you adopt an exercise routine for up to 5 days a week and a healthy diet plan. Having a very low calorie diet and low carbohydrate diet is important when you want to reverse insulin resistance. These lifestyle changes can help you lose weight, which is one of the main risk factors that contribute to IR. Also, adopting a healthy lifestyle can help you keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range.
What is metabolic syndrome (MS)?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions like high blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, low HDL or good cholesterol levels, abdominal fat, and abnormally high triglycerides or cholesterol levels that can result in serious problems like diabetes, stroke or heart disease. Luckily, MS can be managed through lifestyle changes. In case you have any of the risk factors of MS , confirm with your health-care provider if you should test for other risk factors as well. For your doctor to diagnose you with MS, you are likely to have 3 or more of these components or risk factors. It is not clear what could be the cause of metabolic syndrome, but the following factors could play a role:
- Obesity – Excessive fat around the abdomen increases your risk of developing MS.
- Age – The older you are, the higher your risk of developing MS.
- Other diseases – Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with hormonal imbalance and the risk of having MS.
- Insulin resistance – Just as metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing IR, IR can contribute to MS.
How to reverse metabolic syndrome
You can feel anxious when you are diagnosed with MS because there is no medication that can reverse the condition. However, studies show that aggressive changes in lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy diet can reverse metabolic syndrome. The reason for this is because they address the root cause of MS, such as abdominal fat. The dietary changes involve avoiding foods that have high calories and adopting a healthy eating plan that includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Adopting a healthy diet can help to reduce abdominal fat in patients with MS. Being physically active is paramount to reversing MS. It is recommended you have at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Walking for 30 minutes or using the staircase rather than the elevator is a good exercise you can do.
Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.