Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance

Did you know that your body has a hormone called insulin, which helps control your sugar levels in the blood and uses glucose (from the food that you eat) to give energy to your body? But if your body becomes resistant to insulin, then it can’t generate energy.  

Insulin resistance happens when your cells stop responding to insulin and can’t use the glucose from the blood. The pancreas tries to make up for this by producing more insulin and your cells start responding to insulin and start absorbing glucose and making the energy for the body. If this feedback loop fails, your blood sugar levels increase with time and can lead to prediabetes.  

Causes and Risk Factors 

Researchers think that excess weight and lack of physical activity are the major factors responsible for insulin resistance. The other factors may include:  

  • A diet rich in carbs 
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Health conditions (like high blood pressure, abnormally high cholesterol levels, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome) 
  • A family history of diabetes 
  • History of heart disease or stroke
  • Excessive Smoking
  • Ethnicity (African, Hispanic, or Native American) 
  • Age (it can happen after 45).  
  • Hormonal disorders (like Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, and acromegaly) 
  • Medications (like steroids, antipsychotics, and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) medications) 
  • Sleep problems (like sleep apnea) 


Usually, insulin resistance develops unnoticed. As the pancreas keeps producing more insulin to cover up for the resistance, over time, your body doesn’t give obvious signs of the disease. This is what symptoms of insulin resistance look like:  

  • You are always thirsty. 
  • The frequent urge to pee. 
  • Increased hunger and appetite. 
  • Blurred vision. 
  • Unexplained headaches. 
  • Vaginal and skin infections. 
  • Slow healing of cuts and sores. 
  • Darkening of skin in your armpits or the nape of your neck (acanthosis nigricans). 
  • Skin tags. 

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor and get your blood sugar levels checked. 

Treatment and Prevention 

Although there is no medication or therapy to treat insulin resistance, changing your lifestyle is the way to deal with this problem. The lifestyle modifications might include:  

  • Follow a balanced diet plan. 
  • Add physical activity to your routine. 
  • Start working out to maintain a healthy weight.  

Over time, these lifestyle modifications can: 

  • Increase your insulin responsiveness.  
  • Decrease your blood sugar levels. 
  • Decrease blood pressure. 
  • Decrease your bad cholesterol (LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and triglycerides) levels. 
  • Raise good cholesterol (HDL (high-density lipoprotein)) levels. 

You can prevent insulin resistance by maintaining a good lifestyle like eating healthy, exercising daily, meditation, and maintaining your body weight.  

The link between insulin resistance and diabetes 

Insulin resistance happens when your body (cells, muscles, and liver) becomes resistant to insulin and doesn’t process glucose the way it used to, which can increase blood sugar levels in your body. This can lead to prediabetes, which can further lead to type 2 diabetes.  

The following steps summarize how insulin resistance can progress to type 2 diabetes: 

  • For several reasons, insulin loses its ability to effectively support the body’s cells to help regulate blood sugar levels. 
  • To keep blood sugar levels stable, the pancreas secretes more insulin. 
  • With time, however, the pancreas becomes unable to maintain the release of extra insulin to compensate for the cells’ increasing resistance. 
  • If an individual is unable to receive treatment and manage blood sugar levels, persistently high blood sugar levels can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. 

So, insulin resistance can be called the first step of diabetes.  

Insulin resistance is a condition that anyone can develop. But if you don’t notice it and if left untreated, it can lead to different diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, stroke, etc.  

Need help with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? To learn more about diabetes and its management visit our Endocrinology page. You can also visit our website at if you have any queries. Call us on 1-347-384-5690 to get answers to your queries or pay us a visit at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. And if you have diabetes or have its symptoms, come to us for diagnosis and treatment, we have the best endocrinologists and diabetes specialists to help you throughout the process.  

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