Type 2 diabetes impacts millions of Americans. It is often preceded by a condition called insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas into the bloodstream to help move blood sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells.
Once glucose is in the cells it can be used for energy. This makes insulin a very important hormone to help the cells produce energy.
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body is able to produce insulin however the body doesn’t utilize it properly.
As the body becomes insulin resistant the cells of body, primarily the muscle, liver and fats cells stop responding to normal insulin levels and they no longer are able to use insulin to help move glucose from the blood stream into the cells for energy.
This situation makes two things happens in relation to regulating our blood sugar levels.
First, when insulin is not working properly, blood glucose levels start to rise.
Second, the pancreas tries to compensate by releasing more insulin.
In the initial stages of insulin resistance the pancreas is able to produce extra insulin and it forces glucose into the cells causing blood sugar to remain at normal levels. Then the pancreas production of insulin is higher but it can’t compensate for high levels directly after a meal.
Finally the levels of insulin can’t force the glucose into the cells and blood sugar levels remain high constantly in the blood stream.
High levels of glucose are called hyperglycemia. If after an overnight fast the levels of glucose rise in the blood between 100-120ml/dl, this is considered to be pre-diabetes. If your fasting blood glucose is 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate tests, you'll be diagnosed with diabetes.
There are many people who have this process happening in their bodies yet do not feel any symptoms. This is why it is important to have a yearly physical including blood testing every year.
What can you do to prevent insulin resistance and, later, diabetes?
There are lifestyle habits that you can start now before a diagnosis especially if you have a family history of diabetes.