According to a 2004 study by the American Heart Association about 47 million American adults have some form of insulin resistance. Of this figure about 43.5% of these adults are between the ages of 60 and 69, while about 42.0% of these patients are over 70 years of age. This is a startling figure. And while it might seem like a disease that's almost inevitable in today's aging and sedentary society, the truth is that simple lifestyle changes are all that is needed when you want to decrease your chances of insulin resistance or reverse your own struggles with the condition.
What Insulin Resistance Really Means
To make things simple, insulin resistance occurs when the body has troubles utilizing insulin. Insulin allows our bodies to break down sugars from food in order to be used as energy. When we can't do this, sugars begin to float around in our bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels. If you are insulin resistant, your body might produce insulin, but your body just can't seem to use it. When this is the case, your body reacts by producing more and more insulin to try to balance things out, but this ends up weakening your pancreases (the organ that secretes the insulin), which then leads to a lowered ability to produce insulin. In the end, the patient with insulin resistance can have both high levels of sugar and of insulin the body instead of each 'canceling' the other out.
Ways This Syndrome Can Be Hurting Your Heart
Now, for some people, this insulin resistance syndrome doesn't really seem to mean anything to their health at first. After all, if we need sugar to produce energy, it would seem that having too much isn't really the worst thing that could happen, right? Wrong. When your body doesn't break down sugars, this can lead to other symptoms that are harmful to the heart:
- High blood pressure
- Excess weight around the waist
- High levels of triglycerides (a fatty substance in the bloodstream)
- High LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels
- Low HDL (good) cholesterol levels
All of these conditions put more and more strain on your heart, eventually causing it to wear down, and be at a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Reversing the Trend
But you should also know that you can reverse insulin resistance in many cases. While it's typically thought to be genetic in genesis, insulin resistance responds to:
- Even a 5% body weight loss can help, though getting to your target weight for your height should be the goal
- More exercise – try to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day
- Healthier eating habits – low fat, low calorie meals and snacks
- Quitting smoking
If the patient does not take active steps toward preventing and reversing insulin resistance, they can weaken their body so much that their blood sugar levels cause a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
When you feel that you might be someone with insulin resistance, you should check with your doctor to see if you can be tested.