What do chronic disease, poor mental health, hormone imbalance, and advanced aging have in common? They are all problems that can arise as a result of insulin resistance. You may be thinking, “I’m not a diabetic—I don’t need to worry about insulin!” Your doctor may tell you that, too. But here’s the truth: changes in insulin and blood sugar markers often precede a diabetes diagnosis by ten or more years.
Take that in. Not only does this mean that insulin-resistant related health problems are totally preventable, but it also unfortunately means that insulin resistance is a lot more common than you might think! It isn’t hard for me to believe– I couldn’t fully heal from my health issues until my sugar and simple carb addiction was under control and my blood sugar balanced. Not quite sure how sugar and insulin are related? Let’s start with the basics.
Blood sugar 101
Your blood sugar and insulin are tightly and meticulously regulated by your body. After a meal, carbohydrates are converted into glucose. This glucose enters your bloodstream, raising your blood sugar. Insulin is released accordingly, moving the glucose out of your blood and into your cells for energy—thereby lowering your blood sugar.
The body can become insulin resistant when our diets are imbalanced. And this applies to more than those of you with a sweet tooth (no judgment– I’ve been there!)– too many carbohydrates like breads, pastas, and white rice contribute to insulin resistance, too. When this begins, your organs will have to work overtime to maintain that delicate blood sugar balance. I’m not talking about a couple of bad days or even months—insulin resistance is a slow burn. Still, over time, it can lead to chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, brain fog, I could go on.
Why monitoring insulin is important
Even if you feel your lifestyle is healthy overall, your insulin levels may be higher (or lower) than you’d expect. The amount of insulin released after meals differs highly by the individual. This means your levels after eating may differ from mine, even though we ate the same food. Factors that affect these differences include age, weight, gender, genetics, and activity level. The good news is that you have the power to prevent the problems that can arise from insulin resistance—by monitoring your insulin levels regularly.
The best way to test your insulin levels as a method of prevention
First and foremost: not all glucose tests are created equal. The typical tests done at most doctor’s offices are not the most efficient way to detect high insulin levels for those who do not have diabetes. It is possible to have blood sugar levels that fall within range but concerningly high insulin levels, so it’s important to ensure your insulin is tested too. For the purpose of regular monitoring for prevention, ask your doctor for a two-hour glucose tolerance test, as this will measure both markers.
If your insulin is high, some changes are in order. Focus on consuming high fiber meals and lots of whole vegetables and fruits. You may also need to address other areas of your life, such as stress, exercise, or sleep (you know– the areas almost all of us could benefit from working on!). If you need help pinpointing the cause of a high insulin result or just want more help with blood sugar balance, book a one-on-one virtual session with me today!
Note: This is advice for individuals who have not been diagnosed with diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, it is important to follow your doctor’s guidelines regarding glucose and insulin monitoring.