Risks, Consequences, and Solutions
Insulin resistance and belly fat are causing discontent among many individuals regarding their recent weight gain. The prevalence of insulin resistance and diabetes is responsible for this trend. Prediabetes or insulin resistance, once known as adult-onset diabetes, is now observed even in 8-year-olds.
This article will provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of how insulin functions in a normal body and the negative consequences of dysfunctional insulin, such as weight gain. Additionally, it will explain the dangers associated with insulin resistance, including high blood pressure and heart diseases. Those who have been diagnosed with insulin resistance and want to make positive changes for their health will find solutions, as well as those seeking to shed a few pounds for improved physical and emotional wellbeing.
It is recommended to consult your doctor for any lifestyle changes, particularly those involving carbohydrate intake. Lastly, this article is not only for adults, but for parents who need to understand their children's dietary habits and those who have older relatives needing the same information.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that travels throughout the body, providing and receiving instructions as a messenger. Without hormones, the body would be in chaos. The pancreas produces insulin, which connects with glucose receptors and brings glucose to cells. The process is like carrying a package from one room to another, where the cell doors open for insulin, not for glucose, and through this process, cells "order" energy storage. Carbohydrates are the main contributors to increased insulin levels.
Insulin functions as an anabolic hormone, triggering growth in muscle tissues, and is involved in the metabolism of protein and fat. Bodybuilders use techniques such as intermittent fasting and feeding their bodies with five to six small meals a day to maximize muscle growth, thanks to insulin.
Insulin also commands the conversion of glucose to fat and manages where it gets stored. To regulate glucose levels properly, it's essential not to exceed our human insulin needs. More insulin is not better than the right amount.
What happens to our body when we have too much insulin?
The pancreas releases insulin in response to the ingestion of carbohydrates. If too many meals are consumed, the pancreas continuously produces insulin, leading to insulin resistance when high glycemic index foods are frequently and excessively consumed.
Insulin is released every time carbohydrates are eaten, causing insulin levels to rise. As insulin levels continue to increase, they cause cells to stop responding to insulin, resulting in the cessation of glucose transportation from the blood to the cells. Because glucose does not reach the body's mitochondria, it is not utilized, causing the body to perceive itself as deprived and starving, even though glucose is present in the bloodstream.
Should we be afraid of belly fat?
It's essential to understand the potential consequences of an insulin imbalance, as being aware of abdominal fat and other signs could be a strong indicator of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with shorter life expectancy and conditions that can limit the quality of life. Obesity and moderate fat are typically high when dealing with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is closely linked to metabolic syndrome, cancer, and high blood pressure, which is a symptom of an underlying condition.
Increased blood pressure and fluid retention are commonly caused by the high levels of insulin present in the body, leading to the kidneys retaining sodium. Furthermore, insulin resistance could lead to higher levels of cholesterol due to the impact on fat storage. Triglycerides may also increase, resulting in a higher risk of heart disease. Oxidative damage and cell proliferation in the arteries could be heightened due to inflammation caused by insulin resistance.
To prevent or address issues connected with insulin resistance, it's essential to limit the amount of insulin in the body. A good start is to eat only three meals a day spaced 4-5 or even 6 hours apart, eliminate snacks and cut out sugar. Carbonated beverages, canned juices, fruit juices, and breakfast cereals are not recommended since they typically contain 3-6 teaspoons of sugar per serving, causing a dramatic increase in blood sugar. Fiber-rich fruits should be eaten instead of fruit juice, and sweet potatoes and cheese should be consumed in small amounts due to their very high glycemic load.
Although it's impossible to completely prevent insulin resistance, it can be managed and monitored by focusing on diet and lifestyle. It's up to us to take the necessary steps to control and limit the effects of insulin in our bodies, as this will help lower the risk of developing chronic illnesses and impaired quality of life later on.
If I have belly fat, am I insulin resistant?
Answer these questions to see if you match the score below, which indicates whether you are insulin resistant or not:
Does your waist diameter exceed your hip diameter?
Does your stomach touch the wall before your chest when standing against it?
Do you experience cravings for foods such as bread or chocolate?
Do you feel depressed in the middle of the afternoon?
Would you like me to pick up some coffee for you in the afternoon?
Do you experience chills, dizziness or irritability when you skip meals?
Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome?
Do you experience dizziness or have trouble concentrating?
Do you have difficulty losing weight?
Do you take statins to lower cholesterol?
Do you frequently consume bread, potatoes, and rice?
0-3: No insulin resistance. You may have a lifestyle that puts you at risk for insulin resistance, but it's time to make some changes.
4-7: Mild insulin resistance. Check and change your eating habits before your health begins to deteriorate
8-11: Significant insulin resistance. Talk to your doctor and get a fasting insulin and HbA1C test. Fasting blood glucose alone is insufficient to assess the risk of insulin resistance and prediabetes.
Calculate your waist-to-hip ratio
To determine whether being overweight is affecting your health, doctors may use measurements such as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Unlike body mass index (BMI), which calculates the relationship between weight and height, WHR measures the relationship between waist circumference and hip circumference to determine the amount of fat stored in the waist, hips, and buttocks.
You can calculate your WHR yourself or ask your doctor to do it for you. To measure yourself:
Stand up straight and exhale. Use a measuring tape to determine the circumference at the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button. This is your waist circumference.
Next, measure the circumference at the widest part of your hips (the widest part of your buttocks). This is your hip circumference.
Calculate your WHR by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), men should have a WHR of 0.9 or less, and women should have a WHR of 0.85 or less.
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