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Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes

Normally, your pancreas makes insulin when your blood sugar rises. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use the sugar from food for fuel. This fuel keeps your entire body running smoothly. With insulin resistance, your pancreas can still make insulin but your cells can’t respond to it. This leads to high blood sugar levels. This causes your pancreas to make even more insulin. It becomes a cycle that can cause your pancreas to stop making insulin. Insulin resistance increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. But they aren’t high enough to be called diabetes. It increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Prediabetes may affect as many as 79 million people in the U.S.

What Are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes?

Insulin resistance and prediabetes are conditions that you usually see before full-blown type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes tends to have no symptoms, so screening is important. Generally, you should get regular blood sugar screenings once you’re age 45. If prediabetes shows up, you may be able to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by doing the following:

  • Losing weight

  • Eating healthy

  • Increasing your physical activity

In some cases, you can even reverse prediabetes and return your blood sugar levels to normal.

One of the main symptoms of insulin resistance is a condition called acanthosis nigricans. This can cause dark patches of skin on your elbows, knees, underarms, knuckles, or back of your neck. If you have prediabetes, you most likely also have insulin resistance even if you don’t have noticeable symptoms.

What Are the Risk Factors for Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes?

Risks include:

  • Abnormal results on a fasting glucose test or a glucose tolerance test

  • Being ages 45 and older

  • Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander

  • Extra weight around your waist

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • High triglycerides

  • Lack of regular exercise or physical activity

  • Low HDL, or “good” cholesterol

  • Overweight and obesity

  • History of gestational diabetes or having a baby born weighing over 9 lbs.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Can Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes Be Reversed?

If you have insulin resistance or prediabetes, you may be able to reverse or delay getting type 2 diabetes. You can do this with lifestyle changes including:

  • Diet. Choose foods that are low in fat and calories and high in fiber to help lower your blood sugar levels. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are good choices for a healthy diet. Limit fats in sauces, dressings, and condiments. Instead, choose low-fat or naturally nonfat products, such as mustard or low-fat dressings. Start with small changes each week and ask your friends and family for support.

  • Exercise. Thirty minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, helps your body respond better to insulin and lowers your blood sugar levels. Again, start with small changes and add activities as you go.

  • Weight loss. You can lose weight by exercising and making changes to your diet. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight will help your body respond better to insulin, lower your blood sugar levels, and lower your risk of heart disease.



Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 4/1/2016
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