Some Enlightening Information About Insulin Resistance, and Insulin Resistance Syndrome
Believe it or not—I was astounded!—well over 60,000 searches are done online each and every month for the term insulin resistance. That means a lot of people are curious, and possibly concerned about this. As they should be. It also means that a lot of people are confused about it… and they shouldn’t be.
Here is some information that hopefully will clarify some of the “mysteries” surrounding insulin resistance and insulin resistance syndrome.
Most cases of reactive hypoglycemia (1) are labeled idiopathic, which means “unknown cause”. I believe insulin resistance causes most cases of idiopathic reactive hypoglycemia, and that insulin resistance is caused, in turn, by diet and heredity. Insulin resistance can be an early warning sign of Type II diabetes and studies have shown that Type II diabetics may have been insulin resistant for up to 12 years before diagnosis.
(1. By far the most common cases of chronic hypoglycemia are types of reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia is also called postprandial hypoglycemia, postprandial syndrome or functional hypoglycemia and symptoms appear two to five hours after you eat. Postprandial, by the way, simply means, “after eating”.)
Insulin is supposed to trigger the acceptance of circulating blood sugar (glucose) into the body’s cells, but over time and with an over refined diet, your cells can become insulin resistant. When cells are insulin resistant, it takes increasing amounts of insulin to trigger the acceptance of additional sugar into cells in your body.
Unchecked, this often progresses to Type II diabetes when your pancreas just gives up after years of producing more insulin than it was meant to. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and tryglycerides readings go up, and you are now at risk of heart attack.
Syndrome X (aka Insulin Resistance Syndrome) is defined as insulin resistance with high blood pressure and high tryglycerides. If you have Syndrome X, you are also at increased risk of developing cancer.
As with almost everything, some people are more quickly affected by adverse conditions than others are. We already know that some people are more likely to get diabetes or cancer or heart disease. And this is at least partly because some people are more likely to have trouble with our over processed and over refined diet. This is the heredity component of insulin resistance. The more refined foods, especially sugar, that we eat, the more insulin the pancreas produces. No one should be eating the amounts of sugar that most of us do, but some people’s bodies can resist the effects longer.
Insulin resistance happens when your body has been overwhelmed with too much insulin for so long that your cells stop listening. For the cells of your body, a constantly high level of insulin is just like constant noise in your ears.
Over time, you learn to ignore the noise, and it takes a louder sound to get your attention. Your cells view insulin in the same way. It takes more and more insulin to get your cells to pay attention. When your cells ignore insulin and refuse to “open” to take in sugar from your blood, your pancreas simply sends more insulin until your cells begin to respond. The excess insulin has several effects. First, by the time the cells finally begin to accept sugar, there is so much insulin available that your blood sugar drops too much—hypoglycemia. Second, insulin resistance causes more insulin resistance, so eventually there is a lot of insulin floating around your system all the time.
All that insulin makes it difficult to keep your blood sugar steady. When the insulin resistance train has been accelerating on its track for a while, your body really isn’t handling sugar properly anymore, and you will have an “abnormal sugar metabolism”. One way an abnormal sugar metabolism will show up is in chronic hypoglycemia.
Processing sugar is hard work. Eating a donut or a cookie or a granola bar causes a blood sugar spike that the pancreas must deal with. Every spike requires the release of insulin to get it back under control. If we eat a lot of refined foods containing a lot of sugar, we find ourselves living on the blood sugar roller coaster. Abnormal sugar handling, over time, causes increased insulin resistance.
We know that a high level of sugar in the blood is bad. That’s why diabetics stop eating sweets and take medication. A high level of insulin is also bad, but more insidious. Insulin is not meant to sit around in the body all the time, and excess insulin causes a host of problems. For one thing, insulin is a storage hormone, so if you have too much insulin, you will gain weight because excess sugar is stored as fat.
Excess weight is a major risk factor for diabetes, and so is overworking the pancreas by producing too much insulin. In early Type II diabetes, the pancreas is working very hard to keep up with the demand. Insulin levels in the body are abnormally high, and your blood sugar may be alternating between high and low. This leads to full-blown diabetes when the over-worked pancreas simply can’t produce the amounts of insulin needed to overcome the insulin resistance of the body’s cells. This slide into Type II diabetes is much more likely in people who are significantly overweight. Sixty-five percent of people living with diabetes will die of a heart attack or stroke.
In addition to Type II diabetes, insulin resistance can cause an increase in blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol and tryglycerides. Dr. Gerald Reaven first recognized that these problems are linked in the late 1980s. He coined the term Syndrome X because no one knew at the time how these problems were linked or what caused them. But it is as clear now as it was then—this combination is a heart attack waiting to happen!
In his book, Syndrome X, Dr. Reaven states that Syndrome X “…may be the cause of 50 percent of all heart attacks”. Dr. Reaven also suggests that Insulin Resistance Syndrome “…affects between 60-75 million Americans”. More recently, experts have also come to believe that Syndrome X (aka insulin resistance syndrome) also increases the risk of cancer.
The more of the following risk factors you have, the greater the chance you have Syndrome X:
Overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, over age 40, non-Caucasian ethnicity, a family history of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, a history of glucose intolerance, a diagnosis of high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides/low HDL cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease.
This makes it very clear that whether or not you are hypoglycemic or have high blood sugar, you may be at risk if you have any of these risk factors. Consult your physician, and be prepared to change your diet and your lifestyle ASAP to turn back the advance of abnormal blood sugar, insulin resistance and Syndrome X!
Daniel G. St-Jean
Editor of Help For Hypoglycemia
Publisher of the Help For Hypoglycemia Blog
Source by Daniel St-jean