Non-Dietary Factors of Insulin Resistance

Now, we know that you are what you eat, but there are other factors that determine if you can get insulin resistance and how well you can fight it off and prevent diabetes. We know that insulin resistance begins because cells (mainly muscle cells) are full up on their glycogen stores and become less responsive to insulin because of that. Well if you don’t let your cells keep full stores for very long than you are much less likely to start any kind of insulin resistance. If you haven’t yet figured it out, the answer is regular exercise.

When you exercise, you burn up fuel and when your muscles burn up the glucose that is ready to go to the cells, they then burn up available glucose in the blood and then break down their stores of glycogen. So, when you exercise, you burn up any glucose you ate recently and empty your muscle’s stores so they are ready to accept new glucose the next time they see insulin. For those suffering from insulin resistance, the glucose use and glycogen depletion helps, however, working out consistently yields even more benefits. Your muscles need a source of energy and if you continue working, you will start to burn fat. As we know, stored fat only causes more problems for those with or developing insulin resistance and maintaining a healthy weight is very important for avoiding some of the vicious cycles of insulin resistance.

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While we certainly don’t consider our surroundings, our environment can have an impact on our likelihood of developing insulin resistance. Think about what foods are advertised around you on a daily basis. Sugary drinks and desserts are insanely popular in America and bacon and eggs for breakfast is being replaced by sugary cereals, juice, doughnuts and coffee with extra sugar and sugar filled fake chocolate, vanilla and caramel flavourings. At the grocery store you are bombarded with advertisements for high glycemic junk food. The checkout lane is filled with candy bars and store clerks get quite creative stacking cola crates into various eye-catching shapes. Added sugar is becoming an epidemic problem in western diets as the majority of the sugar we consume on average is pointless, processed, added sugar. Just look at a jar of popular tomato pasta sauce and you might be shocked to see that there is 7-10 grams of sugar (most of it added). Increased awareness is the only way to neutralize environmental factors. Look at nutrition labels, got to health food and natural food shops and improve your awareness on what kind of food you are buying.

In line with environment, stress plays a huge role in insulin resistance. Stress promotes the storage of more abdominal fat. More fat causes hormonal imbalances and the stress hormone, cortisol, creates all sorts of problems. A major problem is that stress makes our body think that we might need to fight or run soon and so our liver ramps up its production of glucose, causing a totally internal chain reaction of insulin resistance. Stress is blamed as an underlying cause for countless problems simply because it does cause a lot of problems. Our modern lives give us longer periods of sustained stress that or stone-age ancestors likely ever had to deal with. Stress causes so many more problems including systemic inflammation and immune suppression and again, every person has different bodily reactions to stress.

While we wish we could control all of these factors that lead to insulin resistance, one factor we cannot control is genetics. How we are created and come into this world and our ancestors have a huge, but varied effect on our lives. Obesity is one of the biggest correlating factors to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, a genetic predisposition for obesity can be difficult to overcome.

Some surprising factors such as low birth weight have an impact on diabetes and insulin resistance risks. Finally, there are several flat out genes that correspond to a greater risk for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Having these genetic factors can make it difficult to fight off insulin resistance, but it is far from a foregone conclusion.

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