You might have heard the age-old riddle – What comes first – chicken or egg? It should be the chicken, the egg, the egg, then the chicken. Oh… the question will make your head spin metaphorically. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter quotes, ‘A circle has no beginning.’ Nonetheless, researchers found that chicken comes first, as the egg is formed inside a hen. In the same way, for the cycle between obesity and insulin resistance, there’s confusion – what happens first? Obesity or insulin resistance.
Let’s talk about insulin resistance.
An impaired body response to insulin causes an increased blood glucose level. Unfortunately, this definition of insulin resistance is insufficient to know the root cause behind the issue and how to reverse it. Taking a step to tackle insulin resistance and diabetes with the help of Diabetes Care Program can improve your overall well-being. Let us learn about the connection between obesity and insulin resistance and what can be done to manage them.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Think of insulin as a key and the cells in your body as locks. When you eat any food, insulin is released into your bloodstream to unlock the cells, allowing glucose (sugar) to enter and be used as energy. However, in obese individuals, the cells may become resistant to the key (insulin) and don’t allow glucose to enter as quickly. This is similar to a lock becoming rusty and not turning as smoothly when a key is inserted. This is known as insulin resistance.
As a result, the body has to produce more insulin to try and get the cells to unlock. Still, eventually, the cells become even more insulin-resistant, leading to high blood glucose levels and potentially type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance: what is it, and how can it be reversed?
Does Insulin Resistance Lead to Obesity or Vice Versa?
Now, here’s where the connection between the two:
Insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain.
When our cells resist insulin, glucose doesn’t enter them efficiently, so our body thinks it needs more energy and signals for more food intake, and hence, this can lead to increased hunger and cravings, causing us to eat more and potentially gain weight. Excess weight, especially around the abdomen, can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance. Fat cells, particularly visceral fat, release substances that can interfere with insulin’s actions, making our cells less responsive. So, insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain, and obesity can increase the likelihood of developing insulin resistance.
This creates a cycle where one condition can worsen the other. Breaking this cycle often involves:
- Changing our diet.
- Engaging in regular physical activity.
- Maintaining a healthy weight helps improve insulin sensitivity and overall health.
Let’s dig deeper into how obesity leads to insulin resistance.
Have you ever wondered why most individuals with diabetes are overweight or obese? If you have extra pounds around your tummy, you are susceptible to insulin resistance, the precursor for diabetes. Now, do all people with obesity have insulin resistance? The answer is no. However, being obese or overweight increases the chances of developing insulin resistance compared to others because of the following:
- Inflammatory Response
Insulin resistance happens because of genetics and lifestyle factors, resulting in an inflammatory response in your body. The pancreas will secure more insulin when the body struggles to maintain the ideal blood sugar level. Attempting to remove or store sugar will make it less sensitive to insulin.
- Disruption in Fat Metabolism
Obesity can also trigger specific metabolic changes in our bodies. It will push the fat tissue to release the fat molecules in the bloodstream, affecting the ability of cells to respond to insulin. In this way, insulin resistance might result in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
- Insulin Resistance, Obesity and its link to PCOS
While obesity and insulin resistance can cause chronic diseases, it is also the primary driver behind the onset of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Insulin resistance plays a role in both obese and lean females with PCOS. High amounts of insulin secretion impact ovulation and make the ovaries produce excess testosterone, a male hormone. Symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person. PCOS can increase weight and cause other issues due to hormonal imbalances. Therefore, paying attention to your diet is essential. Fitterfly weight loss program can help you here.
How Do You Know That You Have Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance could be both the cause and symptom of diabetes. Furthermore, it is also the culprit behind various metabolic syndromes, including high blood pressure. Now, it’s time to find out if you have insulin resistance. Fortunately, your body has some tell-tale signs. Let us read those.
- Weight Gain
If you see fat building up in the tummy area, it’s time to check your insulin levels.
- Dark Skin Patches
When you have insulin resistance, your pancreas will secrete more insulin. As a result, it will cause dark-colored patches on the skin, especially on the neck, under the arms, and in the groin.
Women with PCOS are more prone to insulin resistance. They start exhibiting specific symptoms like dark hairs on the belly and face, irregular menstrual cycles, heart diseases, cysts, and more.
How to Treat Insulin Resistance in Obese People?
Making healthy lifestyle changes can assist your body in responding better to insulin and aid in better insulin resistance management. Here are some practical changes that would improve the condition.
- Healthy diet modulations
The macronutrients you eat, like carbs, fats, and proteins, directly correlate with insulin resistance. Moreover, following a healthy diet (after consulting a qualified nutritionist) helps lose weight. Therefore, it’s better to ensure to
- Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods like lentils, whole grains, and beans.
- Relish high-protein foods like seeds, nuts, fish, and legumes.
- Avoid specific food sources like processed foods or refined grains.
- Include low-glycemic foods (Note – glycemic index refers to the value of the capacity of a particular food to raise your blood sugar level)
- Indulge in an Active Exercise Regime
Lack of physical activity is the primary cause of insulin resistance. Therefore, regular exercise will lower your blood sugar level and aid in insulin resistance management by encouraging the cells to take the sugar from the bloodstream. For instance, you can follow aerobic exercises like brisk walking, climbing stairs, or strength training by lifting weights or doing push-ups at your convenience.
- Get Adequate Sleep
The average sleep duration for a healthy adult is 7 – 8 hours. When you sleep for only five hours or less, it will be challenging to address insulin resistance. Experts have found that the amount of time, stages of sleep, and the time when the person sleeps affect the blood sugar level. Therefore, no matter what, ensure you get restorative sleep every night.
- Get Rid of Stress
When we experience stress, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with insulin’s actions and contribute to insulin resistance. By implementing effective stress management techniques, such as practicing relaxation exercises and adopting stress-reducing activities like meditation or hobbies, we can help lower our stress levels.
Stress management techniques can also support overall well-being, promoting healthier lifestyle choices and better management of insulin resistance. Mental and emotional health should be managed by stress management techniques to manage insulin resistance and enhance your overall health.
Obesity and insulin resistance are strongly associated and potential contributors to chronic ailments. However, the best thing about insulin resistance and obesity is that we can prevent and sometimes even aim at reversing it by unlocking a healthy lifestyle.