Insulin Resistance: A Natural, Side Effect Free Approach for Lifelong Health
Insulin resistance isn't discussed often outside of a doctor's office, but it is a serious cause for concern for millions of people.
According to statistics from the Mayo Clinic, insulin resistance occurs in over three million cases each year.
Because of the pronounced effect it can have on the body and energy levels of those it affects, it has the potential to rob a person of their health, energy, and quality of life, oftentimes leading to one of the most difficult to manage diseases, Type 2 diabetes.
Treatment can help significantly when it comes to insulin resistance, but as it stands, there is no recognized cure within the medical community.
Insulin resistance is classified as a chronic condition, meaning it can last for years or become a lifelong condition. It requires a medical diagnosis, and lab tests or imaging are also required.
How Insulin Resistance Occurs
Insulin resistance occurs when a person develops a resistance to the hormone insulin, leading to a chronic increase in blood sugar. The pancreas produces more insulin, leading to prediabetes and diabetes. This is called hyperinsulinemia.
Insulin helps control the amount of sugar, also known as glucose, in the blood. When insulin resistance occurs, your cells don't normally respond to insulin.
Glucose builds in the bloodstream and cannot enter the cells as easily. When this occurs, Type 2 diabetes may not be far off.
Currently, more than 37 million Americans have some form of diabetes, and about 90-95% of them have Type 2. It most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more young people have been developing it in recent years.
Insulin resistance typically has no pronounced symptoms.
Those who do experience symptoms may have the following, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Weight loss and exercise are among the best ways to help reverse this condition, but it's a complex issue that requires the right knowledge and proper nutrition to tackle.
Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome
Insulin resistance also may lead to metabolic syndrome, defined as a collection of risk factors that increase the chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is also known as Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, and dysmetabolic syndrome.
A recent national health survey showed that more than 1 in 5 Americans has metabolic syndrome, which increases with age.
Once people reach their 60s and 70s, more than 40% are usually affected.
While the exact cause of metabolic syndrome is unknown, many symptoms and features of this condition are associated with insulin resistance. Typically in these instances, the body is not able to use insulin efficiently to lower glucose and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream.
This condition could result from genetic or lifestyle factors, including dietary habits, visceral fat around the midsection, sleep apnea, and lack of physical activity.
People are often diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if they have three or more of the following markers:
- A waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women, measured across the belly
- A blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher, or on blood pressure medications
- A fasting blood glucose level higher than 100 mg/dl or are on glucose-lowering medications
- A high-density lipoprotein level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl (men), or under 50 mg/dl (women)
- A triglyceride level above 150 mg/dl
Side Effects of Type 2 Diabetes Medications Can Be Serious
Drugs for Type 2 diabetes can be effective, but they usually don't come without the risk of serious side effects.
Ideally, this is a situation you should do everything in your power to avoid, with your doctor's blessing, of course.
One common side effect of this class of medications is an upset stomach, but it may be just the tip of the iceberg regarding potential problems.
One condition to watch out for is lactic acidosis, which may result from a class of drugs known as biguanides, including the most well-known drug Metformin. Side effects range from B12 deficiency to gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach.
Lactic acidosis is considered to be a serious condition that may be signified by symptoms including trouble breathing, muscle pain, sudden stomach pains or vomiting, and unusual weakness, tiredness, or sleepiness.
Another class of Type 2 diabetes drugs called Sulfonylureas includes Glipizide, glimepiride, and glyburide. These drugs lower blood sugar by helping the pancreas to produce more insulin.
However, the most common side effect is low blood sugar. This side effect can lead to confusion, dizziness, sweatiness, and shakiness. Severe low blood sugar can be life threatening, and these medications could add to the risk. Weight gain, dark-colored urine, and upset stomach may result in skin rashes.
Another class of Type 2 diabetes drugs called Thiazolidinediones works by boosting the way that insulin works in the body.
But the side effects range from difficult to serious, including swelling, weight gain, and raised the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in your body. Serious side effects of these drugs may include bone fractures, heart failure, and an increased risk of bladder cancer in women.
These drugs go by brand names that include Actos and Avandia.
Still another class of drugs, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, works by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates. Side effects range from stomach issues to increased markers associated with a stressed liver. Sore throats, stuffy noses, and upset stomachs are among the usual side effects.
More serious potential side effects include liver failure, acute pancreatitis, and possible worsening heart failure.
Needless to say, these drugs come with plenty of risks, which is just part of the reason why a natural approach to improving insulin resistance at the source may be strongly preferred.
A Natural Approach to Improving Insulin Resistance
From a natural perspective, there are many ways to reverse insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity and availability.
Sleep: The first step is to start getting more high-quality sleep each night.
Begin by creating the right sleep environment, starting with a room free from unnatural light.
Go to bed at a set time every night and try your best to stick to it. Consider a wind-down routine involving herbal tea, light reading (in a book rather than on your phone), journaling, or other activities that help relax the mind.
Exercise / Activity: Secondly, increase your exercise quantity and quality. Exercise provides an immediate boost to your insulin sensitivity, allowing glucose to be stored in the muscles and used for fuel.
Even light to moderate cardio may help; resistance training with weights can improve or reverse insulin resistance.
Stress: Reducing stress is another tried and true method. The more stressed you are, the more blood sugar your body will cultivate to react to a perceived problem or threat.
Weight: Losing weight also helps and is a must for any long-term strategy for improving insulin resistance.
Nutrition: Nutrition-wise, an insulin resistance diet starts with increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet, which helps your body to better utilize insulin and add more colorful fruits and vegetables to your daily plan.
Foods rich in soluble fiber include legumes, oatmeal, Brussels sprouts, flax seed, oranges, and more.
You should also do your best to limit carbohydrates, especially simple carbs like white rice and bread, as these can spike insulin quickly.
Reduce baked goods and similar foods like cakes, candies, cookies, pies, and pastries, which may contain trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients.
Adding more spices to your diet can add medicinal properties that may improve insulin sensitivity, including turmeric, ginger, garlic, and fenugreek seeds, all of which may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Cinnamon is one of the best spices for improving insulin response, which has been found to significantly reduce both short and long-term blood sugar levels.
Supplements: Supplements such as berberine, apple cider vinegar, and green tea may also help, as well as mineral supplements like magnesium and chromium.
Avoid skipping meals, and eat a healthy, varied whole foods diet as much as possible.
Healright Clinical Trials Showed Improvements in Health Markers for Insulin Resistance
As detailed in the sections above, healing and reversing insulin resistance is often a complicated puzzle with many different pieces to focus on putting in the right places.
Healright nutrition bars take the guesswork out of improving insulin resistance by combining evidence-based nutrition, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), proteins, and two different kinds of fiber, among other nutrients, to improve health markers for insulin resistance.
Healright was developed over 15 years to optimize metabolic health and improve insulin resistance, metabolism, gut health, and other key markers.
A clinical trial in the journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) found that eating proprietary Healright micronutrient bars daily can help improve insulin resistance in overweight and obese patients.
Key findings from Healright clinical trials showed improvements in only 8 weeks:
Metabolism: Adiponectin, a protein secreted by fat cells, is an important indicator of overall metabolic status. The increase was between 63-67% in 8 weeks.
Insulin Resistance / Glucose Metabolism: Dramatic improvements in glucose and insulin markers, and for patients with insulin resistance, studies showed a 68% reduction in 8 weeks.
Other Metabolic Health Markers: For patients with issues like high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, weight management, and inflammatory markers saw statistically significant improvements in 8 weeks.
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