Sunday, February 23, 2020

What Is Insulin Resistance? Investigating This Diabetes-Related Issue

“Even when we’re asleep or just breathing, our body is functioning and metabolizing,” explains Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George’s University (SGU). “So we constantly require glucose.”

Your cells need a little help to effectively process the glucose that floods your bloodstream after eating. As blood glucose levels rise, your pancreas secretes an appropriate amount of insulin. This hormone helps facilitate the metabolic process, which both returns your blood sugar to normal and stores energy for later use.

Insulin resistance means your body has developed a tolerance that prevents it from using the hormone properly. Your body has to produce more insulin to compensate. But the pancreas can’t keep up forever, and that leads to higher glucose levels that eventually store as fat. This, Dr. Bidaisee explains, starts a problematic cycle.

“The cells in your body remain starved of fuel,” he notes. “Eating more food doesn’t solve the problem because, while you produce more insulin, your body isn’t receiving the consumed source of energy.”

While insulin resistance alone isn’t diabetes or even prediabetes, it is a precursor. Without intervention, it eventually develops into type 2 diabetes. Also note that type 1 diabetes is an entirely different story. Individuals with this disease aren’t able to produce insulin at all.


To be clear—having insulin resistance does not mean further health issues are inevitable. But it does increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a growing problem with numerous other consequences.

“Insulin resistance, being part of the cause of diabetes, is also potentially reflective of the global story as well,” Dr. Bidaisee offers. He notes that rates of heart disease, cancer, and stroke have also been rising.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) actually identifies both stroke and heart disease as complications of diabetes. And there are numerous others. Over time, diabetes can also increase your risk of skin infections, glaucoma and other eye problems, kidney disease, and neuropathy—nerve damage that can cause numbness or weakness in parts of your body.

Neuropathy can be especially troublesome if it isn’t identified early. It’s easy for someone with neuropathy to acquire a wound that becomes infected without realizing it. Severe cases require amputation, which used to be quite common around Grenada. The good news is things have improved drastically since SGU launched a program to help identify the issue early.

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