When we consume food glucose enters our bloodstream and triggers insulin to be released by the pancreas. Insulin then acts as the “key” to help blood glucose enter the cells, where it is used as a source of energy.
The higher the spike in blood glucose levels, the more insulin the pancreas usually produces, and extra glucose is stored both in the liver and in the muscles as glycogen. Glucose stored in muscles is used during periods of intense physical activity, while that stored in the liver is used during periods of less intense activity.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. As long as your pancreas can make enough insulin to overcome your cells’ weak response to insulin, your blood glucose levels will stay in a healthy range.
Insulin resistance is a hallmark of two very common conditions — metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other problems. Its symptoms include high blood triglycerides, blood pressure, belly fat, and blood sugar, as well as low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Two variables - genetic risk factors and poor lifestyle habits - lead to insulin resistance. While we have no control over our genetic risk factors, improving lifestyle habits by avoiding an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle go a long way towards reversing the negative effects of metabolic syndrome.
Simple habits like starting every major meal with a bowl of salad, adding a source of protein and walking for 15 minutes after all major meals will help you manage your blood glucose levels better, lose weight with less effort, and still enjoy your favorite foods.