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Insulin Resistance

Woman at coffee shopIn the endocrine system, hormones are signaling molecules. They are released from the endocrine cells and then move to target cells through the body to cause an action.

One essential hormone is insulin. Why is insulin so important? Insulin regulates glucose (sugar). From the beginning, when you smell or start to chew your food, the body starts to release insulin. As the digestive process continues, and sugar starts to increase, the pancreas releases a surge of insulin. The insulin helps the sugar enter cells for utilization for energy.

When a person eats too much sugar the body must release more insulin. A side effect of this increased insulin is the possibility of built up insulin resistance, when the body is not able to properly utilize the insulin. Insulin resistance can cause elevated blood pressure, abnormal menstruation, skin tags, weight gain, inflammation, joint pain, and increased cardiovascular risk, etc. It may be possible to decrease insulin resistance by decreasing carbohydrate intake in the form of processed sugar (breads, pasta, crackers, etc) and simple sugars (cane sugar, syrups, etc). Balancing healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates allows the body to regulate glucose and insulin. Exercise is also very important for the regulation of sugar. Exercise increases cell insulin sensitivity and improves glucose uptake. Both aerobic and resistance training work together to help our body regulate insulin.

On the other hand, stress is an independent factor that can increase sugar and insulin resistance. Learning how to manage stress through modalities like meditation, therapy and movement, is important for regulation of blood sugar.

Symptoms of insulin resistance may not be recognized until it progresses to diabetes. However, underlying inflammation can occur for years before the diagnosis is made. For these reasons, it is important to take control of health, for example by changing diet, increasing movement and working on stress management to help reverse the effects of insulin resistance.

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At Total Integrative Health, we work with our patients to prevent or treat insulin resistance and diabetes through integrative and holistic care while looking for the root cause.

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