Understanding insulin resistance is key to avoiding it. While many people assume insulin only matters to those living with diabetes, it actually plays a crucial role in the health of everyone. Insulin resistance has become more of a mainstream term as of late, but it’s certainly worth going over what it is and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage.
So just what is insulin anyway?
The hormone insulin, produced in your pancreas, plays a central role in your body. Insulin is responsible for driving glucose (blood sugar), your body’s primary source of fuel, into your cells, where it is burned for energy. Without insulin, you would die. Insulin is also the hormone your body uses to store fat. After insulin carries enough glucose into your cells to meet their needs, it takes whatever glucose is left and carries it off to be stored as fat.
For peak health and fitness, the insulin you produce needs to be used efficiently. To use your insulin efficiently, you want to produce just enough of it to meet your metabolic needs—and no more. Most of us can’t use our insulin efficiently, because we produce too much of it.
The trouble with insulin resistance
When you have too much insulin, your body doesn’t use it as well. In other words, you are insulin resistant. Here’s how it works: As you put on those extra pounds, or even just as you get older, your cells become resistant to the effect of insulin. Your pancreas has to produce more of it just to force enough glucose into your cells. Your blood sugar values are still in the normal range, so it appears that everything is fine, but you’re now making a lot more insulin to keep them there.
When your insulin levels are higher than they need to be, the signals that tell you to stop eating, like leptin, are blurred. Your body tells you that you need to eat more, even when you don’t. It tells you that you’re tired and need to conserve energy even when you don’t need to, so you feel less like being active and have a lowered sense of well-being. And your body tells you that you are craving sugary and fatty foods.
In other words, you don’t feel satiated by your food, even when you eat a lot of it. Over time, it takes even more of those sweet and fatty foods to give you the same satisfaction that you got in the beginning.
It can get worse than weight gain
Without insulin, you can’t store fat. The more insulin, the more fat storage. When insulin levels drop, the reverse happens—energy stored as fat is utilized and burned. Insulin resistance and the resultant increased insulin levels create devastating effects. These include:
Basically, the less excess insulin you have floating around, the better off you are going to be. Insulin resistance will absolutely keep you from meeting your health, fitness and weight goals, and it will continue to impact your results until you do something about it.
What you can do to lower and avoid insulin resistance
Alleviating insulin resistance is actually a bit complex. Because energy storage is so important to the survival of the species, your body has multiple pathways involved in energy storage and burning. Energy storage and use are based not only on what you eat, but also on the exercise you do and the sleep you get.
That’s why the Olumia Life program works. It’s specifically designed to improve insulin efficiency and lower insulin resistance and insulin levels through an integrated approach to healthy habits in Fitness, Nutrition and Sleep. When that happens, your body sends the right signals at the right time—and the signals get through as they should. If you’ve tried other approaches, that’s probably why they haven’t worked out over the long term, they didn’t deal with the fundamental underlying issue of insulin resistance and didn’t restore your insulin efficiency.
The type, variety, order, and progression of exercise is vital to combating insulin resistance. If you aren’t doing this the right way, you just aren’t going to get much bang for the buck. The proper nutritional strategy is of course another key. Knowing the proper approach to sleep helps you even more—the quality of your sleep has surprisingly far-reaching effects on your health. Any one of these components is helpful, but optimal health is definitely a case in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The Olumia Life method takes into account how these factors interrelate. By combining them all in an intelligent way, you will reap tremendous rewards.
Connect with us to discuss how Olumia Life can benefit you and your practice. Physicians may contact our Olumia Life project lead, Steven Willey MD.Connect with Us
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