Insulin Resistance and Health

Insulin resistance occurs when the body produces enough insulin in response to sugar consumption, but the insulin is not able to perform its function within the body properly.  Insulin is a hormone whose role is to signal cells to bring sugar from the blood stream into the cells, so it can be turned into energy.  When an individual has insulin resistance, the pancreas has to release significantly higher amounts of insulin in order to help the cells process the sugar.  As a result, the pancreas becomes over-worked and the blood stream contains high amounts of blood sugar and insulin, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes.  Eighty-five to ninety percent of all diabetes cases are type 2.  Poor lifestyle habits are often the cause of insulin resistance: excess consumption of alcohol (especially beer), smoking, stress, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fat or simple sugars.  
Many individuals who suffer from insulin resistance will have an “apple-shaped” figure, meaning that most of their excess weight is stored around their abdomen.  Fat cells located within the abdomen are able to release fat into the bloodstream much faster than fat cells located elsewhere.  For instance, fat begins to be released from the abdomen three to four hours after the last meal compared to many more hours for fat cells in other areas of the body.  This easy release is designed to provide rapid access to fuel for exertion needed for hunting and fleeing from danger.  But with today’s sedentary lifestyle, the abdominal buildup of fat causes higher triglyceride levels, lower HDL levels, higher blood pressure, greater risk of type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and insulin resistance.
Do you have an “apple-shaped” figure?
To find out if you have an “apple-shaped” figure, use a tape measure to measure around your waist, right above your navel.  Next, measure your hips at their widest point.  Then divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.  Ratios above 0.8 for women or above 1.0 for men suggest an unhealhty accumulation of fat in the middle.  For more help on how to improve insulin sensitivity, email Christa at
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Reader Comments

I think it’s important to clarify that healthy fats are an essential part of the human diet, and do not create insulin resistance. It’s the man made trans fats that we need to stay away from. Great post!

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