Insulin Resistance: Explained



Published on: 08-Dec-2022


10 min read




Anjali Dwivedi


Insulin Resistance: Explained

Insulin Resistance: Explained

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Insulin is a frequently heard and talked about term, especially by people dealing with diabetes. Some of us still think insulin is a medicine given to diabetics to maintain their blood sugar levels. But do you know it is a natural hormone already present in our bodies?

Hormones are chemical transmitters that tell specific organs or tissues to take action that will help the body carry out its specialised role. To maintain a healthy life, insulin is required. It is quite literally responsible for fuelling our bodies. In this blog, we will look at the importance of this hormone secreted by the pancreas.

One of the primary factors responsible for the onset of diabetes is a deficiency in functional insulin. Insulin resistance is a complex condition in which your body does not respond as it should to insulin, a hormone your pancreas makes essential for regulating blood sugar levels. Several genetic and lifestyle factors can contribute to insulin resistance. To maintain the insulin level, some dietitians also recommend power detox which can be an added advantage.

Table Of Contents 

1. What Is Insulin?

2. What Is Insulin Resistance?

3. How Is Insulin Resistance Caused?

4. Signs Of Insulin Resistance

5. Disorders Associated With Insulin Resistance 

6. Methods For Treating Insulin Resistance

7. Dietitian’s Recommendations

8. The Final Say

9. FAQs

What Is Insulin?

The pancreas is responsible for the production of the hormone insulin.

Its purpose is to control how much of a nutrient is carried through your circulation. For example, insulin is commonly associated with regulating blood sugar. Therefore, the amount of sugar circulating in your circulation will rise when you consume carbohydrates. To keep this in check, consuming meals specific to a medical condition is essential.

These elevated levels cause the cells in your pancreas to respond by secreting insulin into your bloodstream. Then, insulin circulates throughout your bloodstream, instructing your cells to take sugar from your blood. Because of this process, the amount of sugar in the blood is decreased.

Exceptionally, high blood sugar levels can have toxic consequences, resulting in significant injury and even death if the condition is not addressed.

There are situations when cells stop reacting appropriately to insulin. Insulin resistance is the term for this condition.

Because of this disease, your pancreas generates even more insulin to reduce sugar levels in your blood. Unfortunately, this results in excessive amounts of insulin in your blood, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia.

Your cells may become more resistant to insulin over time, which can increase insulin and blood sugar levels. This can occur if you have diabetes.

Your pancreas may eventually get damaged, which will result in a reduced amount of insulin being produced. For example, suppose your blood sugar levels are much higher than a predetermined limit. In that case, you may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is the primary factor contributing to this widespread condition, impacting around 9% of the population across the globe.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

A lack of insulin response is also known as insulin resistance. Blood sugar management is aided by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin resistance is a complicated disorder in which the body does not usually respond to insulin. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder in which the body's muscle, fat, and liver cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin resistance can be either short-term or long-term, depending on the cause. It is treatable in certain situations. Several genetic and environmental variables have been linked to the development of insulin resistance.

In normal circumstances, insulin serves to:

  • Blood glucose (sugar) is your body's primary energy source, produced from the food you eat.
  • When blood glucose levels rise, the pancreas responds by secreting insulin.
  • Glucose from the blood is taken up by muscle, fat, and the liver so that it may be utilised for energy or stored for later use.
  • Your pancreas receives a signal to cease insulin production when glucose levels in circulation decrease because of glucose entering cells.

For several reasons, muscle, fat, and liver cells may not absorb or store glucose from the blood as efficiently as they can. Insulin resistance describes this condition. Your pancreas responds by secreting more insulin to lower your blood sugar levels. A condition characterised by elevated insulin levels.

Your blood sugar levels will stay healthy if your pancreas generates sufficient insulin to overpower your cells' weak insulin sensitivity. High blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) are caused by cells becoming resistant to insulin. This can lead to pre-diabetes and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.

In addition to type 2 diabetes, several diseases have been associated with insulin resistance.

  • Obesity
  • Infections of the heart and blood vessels (CVD)
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • The onset of metabolic syndrome
  • The syndrome of polycystic ovaries (PCOS)

How Is Insulin Resistance Caused?

Researchers at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Diabetes Association of India (DAI) are edging closer to a complete knowledge of insulin resistance's origins. But some of the risk factors and causes associated with insulin resistance include the following:

  • Obesity, especially belly fat.
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Carbohydrate-heavy diet
  • Pregnancy-related diabetes
  • Diseases and disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • A history of diabetes in the family.
  • Smoking
  • Age (more likely to happen after 45)
  • Hormonal disorders like Cushing’s syndrome and acromegaly.
  • Medicines like corticosteroids, antipsychotics, and HIV drugs.
  • Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Family history and age are unchangeable, but your eating habits, level of physical activity, and weight are all under your control. The risk of acquiring insulin resistance can be reduced by adopting these habits.

Signs of Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of insulin resistance are uncommon before the development of diabetes. Over 85 per cent of those who have prediabetes do not know it, said the CDC.

If you have insulin resistance, your pancreas can boost insulin production to keep your blood sugar levels regular, and you will not experience any symptoms.

However, insulin resistance can increase, and insulin-producing pancreatic cells can get exhausted with time. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is the outcome of the pancreas' inability to produce enough insulin to counteract the body's resistance to it.

  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Urinating too often (peeing).
  • A rise in hunger
  • Inability to focus on objects clearly
  • Headaches
  • Infections of the skin and genitalia
  • Wounds take a long time to heal.

Many people may go years without experiencing any symptoms other than these.

Disorders Associated With Insulin Resistance

There is a strong correlation between insulin resistance and the following diseases and conditions:

1. Skin Disorder
People with insulin resistance are more likely to develop the skin disorder acanthosis nigricans. Thick, velvety patches appear in the armpits and back of the neck. In addition, some people with fair skin may experience a darkening of their complexion due to increased melanin production.

2. Hormonal Imbalance
There is a correlation between insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In addition, period discomfort, infertility, and unpredictable menstrual cycles are among potential PCOS symptoms.

3. Heart Diseases
High insulin levels in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of vascular disorders, including heart disease, even in those who do not have diabetes.

4. Diabetes 
High blood glucose levels (also called hyperglycemia) are a symptom of insulin resistance, which can lead to prediabetes and eventually type 2 diabetes if left untreated.

5. Depressive Disorder

 Increased risk of major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with high blood levels of insulin, independent of diabetes.

Methods for Treating Insulin Resistance

The primary therapy for insulin resistance is a lifestyle change, as some of the contributing variables, such as genetics and age, cannot be changed. However, several alterations have been made to the way of life, including:

1. Maintaining A Balanced And Nutritious Diet

Your doctor or dietitian may suggest cutting back on sweets, processed foods, red meat, and bad fats to help control your insulin levels. Instead, they will probably suggest switching to a diet higher in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, fish, and lean meats.

2. Working Out

Consistent moderate-intensity exercise has been shown to boost glucose energy consumption and improve muscle insulin sensitivity. One session of moderate exercise can increase glucose uptake by 40% or more.

3. Shedding More Pounds

To manage insulin resistance, your doctor may recommend that you try to reduce weight. For example, one research by ICMR found that if you lose just 7% of your extra weight, you can put off developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%.

4. Medications

Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved medicines for treating insulin resistance. However, diabetes drugs like metformin and thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are insulin sensitisers that reduce blood glucose by lowering insulin resistance.

Dietitian’s Recommendations

Diet and exercise alone can effectively treat insulin resistance. Simply because the levels of glucose and insulin in your blood are greatly affected by the foods you eat. Reversing and/or managing insulin resistance can be accomplished by eating foods with a low to medium glycemic index and avoiding foods with a high glycemic index. In addition, the longer it takes your body to digest fibre, the less likely your blood sugar will spike after eating.


-Dietitian Lavina Chauhan

The Final Say

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes share the symptom of insulin resistance. Insulin is necessary to properly use glucose and prevent excessive blood sugar levels in the body. An increase in blood sugar levels and the subsequent development of diabetes occurs when insulin fails to function normally. By making positive adjustments to their lifestyles early on, many persons with prediabetes can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.


1. How can I tell whether I have developed insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Still, a doctor may suspect it if you have diabetes, hypertension, abnormal lipid profiles (high blood sugar and triglycerides, high LDL and low HDL), and/or obesity.

2. How quickly can insulin resistance be treated?

One of the quickest and most reliable approaches to reversing insulin resistance is physical activity. Vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products should make up the bulk of your daily diet. Limiting your carb consumption might be helpful if you are trying to lose weight and lower your insulin resistance.

3. Is there a specific vitamin that can assist in lower insulin resistance?

It is believed that vitamin D's influence on calcium and phosphorus metabolism, as well as its upregulation of the insulin receptor gene, contributes to its ability to lower insulin resistance. As a result, vitamin D supplementation improved insulin sensitivity by 54%. In addition, it decreased insulin resistance in one trial, including 5,677 people with poor glucose tolerance.

4. Is insulin resistance something you can get rid of?

While the complete elimination of insulin resistance may be impossible, there are methods to increase insulin sensitivity to the body's cells. The most excellent strategy to fight insulin resistance is to start moving around more. Both short- and long-term insulin resistance can be significantly improved by physical activity and diet.

5. Does a low-carb diet help insulin resistance?

Improving prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is possible through decreasing insulin resistance, which may be done by cutting back on carbohydrates. Reducing insulin levels may improve insulin resistance by limiting carbohydrate consumption.


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