Diabetes is a serious chronic disease which affects more than 3 million Canadians.
Insulin resistance is a condition where cells in the body become less responsive to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. This resistance makes it harder for the cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. It’s often a precursor to type 2 diabetes and can be influenced by genetics, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and certain health conditions. Managing insulin resistance involves lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise and a balanced diet.
Elevated blood sugar levels can pose several dangers to your health.
Consistently high blood sugar can lead to diabetes, a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves over time, leading to serious complications such as heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage and vision issues.
High blood sugar can weaken your immune system which makes you more susceptible to infections; can slow down the body’s natural healing processes, leading to delayed wound healing; over time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to vision problems and even blindness; and nerve damage caused by high blood sugar can result in tingling, numbness, and pain, especially in the extremities.
Insulin resistance is becoming more common due to a combination of factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and high consumption of sugary foods which often leads to excess weight and even obesity.
The increase in obesity rates is strongly linked to insulin resistance. Excess fat, especially abdominal fat, can lead to changes in hormones and inflammation that contribute to insulin resistance. Lack of physical activity is a major contributor. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, but a sedentary lifestyle reduces this sensitivity. High consumption of sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.
Chronic stress and poor sleep patterns can contribute to insulin resistance, as can exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants.
Unfortunately for some people, genetic factors can predispose them to insulin resistance, making them more susceptible even with relatively healthy lifestyles.
The time it takes to improve or manage insulin resistance in the body can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may see improvements in insulin sensitivity relatively quickly, within a matter of weeks to a few months, by making significant changes to their diet and exercise habits.
Although water itself does not directly affect insulin resistance, staying properly hydrated is important for overall health and it can indirectly support efforts to manage insulin resistance.
Adequate hydration is essential for various metabolic processes in the body. When you are well-hydrated, your body functions more efficiently, which can help support better insulin sensitivity.
Staying hydrated may help support stable blood sugar levels, as dehydration can sometimes lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Drinking water before meals can promote a feeling of fullness, potentially reducing calorie intake. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for managing insulin resistance and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Working with a health professional in the field of nutrition can guide a client along their health journey while optimizing their energy requirements with sound food choices according to their body’s requirements.
Story submitted by Shana Daniel, RHN