What is Insulin Resistance and how it harms your body?
What is Insulin Resistance and how it harms your body:
Insulin Resistance simply means that your body is becoming resistant to your own insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells in the pancreas. It gets in blood circulation and affects the function of almost every cell in the body.
In order to understand Insulin Resistance consider this analogy. Imagine this room as the cell, the hallway as the blood vessel and my receptionist as the glucose molecule. Now my receptionist (glucose molecule) can travel thru the hallway (blood vessel) and enter the room (cell), but only if the door is open. In the body, insulin opens the door. Insulin is the door man. If the doors in the cell wall get rusty and therefore difficult to open, we call it Insulin Resistance. In response to insulin resistance, your body produces more and more insulin, sends more doormen.
This large quantity of insulin keeps your blood sugar normal. But it is not good for the rest of the body. It causes high blood pressure; it causes narrowing of the blood vessels and sets up the stage for acute heart attack and stroke. It causes growth of cancer; it also causes growth of cysts in the ovaries in young women, a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Obviously, there are a lot of people out there with insulin resistance whose blood glucose is perfectly normal and therefore no one thinks about insulin resistance. Somehow there is this misconception that people with insulin resistance have to have elevated blood glucose, which is not true at all.
If insulin resistance is left untreated, body's capacity to churn up huge amount of insulin gets exhausted and then your blood glucose starts to rise. Initially there is only mild rise in blood glucose, we call it Pre-diabetes. Later there is higher elevation in blood glucose which we call as diabetes.
Insulin resistance also causes a high level of triglycerides and a low level of HDL (good) cholesterol. These triglycerides then get deposited in the liver, giving rise to a fatty liver, which sometimes can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
In summary, Insulin resistance is a harmful process in your body which gets worse with the passage of time. When a person with insulin resistance consumes excessive amounts of sugar and carbohydrates (which get converted to sugar in the body), there is a huge load of sugar in the blood stream. And body handles it by producing a large amount of insulin. This large amount of insulin can keep your blood sugar normal but causes a lot of harm to the rest of the body, as I explained earlier.
Early Detection and Treatment of Insulin resistance is the Key to your health.
An overweight person, especially around the waistline should have the following tests to diagnose Insulin Resistance.
2-hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test for the early detection of pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Blood insulin level.
Blood for HDL cholesterol (less than 50 mg/dl indicates Insulin Resistance)
Blood for triglycerides (more than 150 mg/dl indicates Insulin Resistance) IRS)
Blood pressure monitoring (more than 130/85 indicates Insulin Resistance)
This article was written by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, FACE. Dr. Zaidi specializes in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Dr. Zaidi is a former Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA. Currently he is Medical Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
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