If you’ve just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you may have been told that you are insulin resistant. But what is insulin resistance, and what should you do about it?
Insulin resistance explained
Insulin resistance is when your body does not use the insulin in your body as well as it should. This leads to high blood sugar, and can lead to Type 2 diabetes. The first thing to understand is what insulin does when there is no insulin resistance. When you eat, your body releases insulin from your pancreas. This insulin helps to unlock the cells so that the glucose (sugar) from the food you have eaten is able to pass from the blood into the cells, for energy. If you are insulin resistant, there is a block so that the insulin cannot pass as easily from the blood into the cells. The insulin ‘key’ doesn’t work as well as it should – which means your blood glucose stays higher than it should.
Why does insulin resistance matter?
You can think of insulin resistance as a warning of Type 2 diabetes. Although there are often no symptoms, it can be a sign that you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is when the insulin in your body doesn’t work as it should: Type 2 diabetes often combines insulin resistance with a lack of insulin, so that the glucose from your food can’t feed the cells correctly. Type 2 diabetes can be managed, often with losing weight and exercising, along with a change in diet. Here are some helpful tips for managing Type 2 diabetes.
What to do if you are insulin resistant
So what should you do if you’ve been told you are insulin resistant? First of all, thank your lucky stars you have been told now, and not when it has already developed into Type 2 diabetes!
Then, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need to lose weight? Carrying extra weight (especially around your tummy) can lead to insulin resistance. Lose weight if you need to – here are some healthy weight loss tips.
- Am I eating a healthy diet? Eating too many refined carbs (starch, sweets, baked treats, junk food and fizzy drinks) can be another risk factor. Here’s a balanced meal plan if you need some advice on how to eat well – controlling how much you eat (portion control) is so important!
- Am I exercising enough? Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym – it can be going for a walk around the block or doing stretching exercises at home or at work. But we should all be getting active for 30 minutes 5 days a week.
Now that you understand insulin resistance, do you need to make any lifestyle changes? Remember to join Diabetic South Africans for support from other people living with diabetes (of all kinds!) in South Africa.