Mar 23 , 2021
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Type 2 Diabetes or Insulin resistance is a condition that affects the way the body uses blood sugar (glucose we get from food). With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin, or there is an inability to use their own insulin properly. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, weight loss or gain, and blurred vision. Treatments include diet, exercise, medication, and sometimes insulin therapy.
About half of the US population is at risk for insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes. For these individuals it makes sense to be on the “safe side” and eat a well-balanced diet to prevent blood sugar and insulin imbalances. Even if somebody does not have a diabetes diagnosis, they can still have insulin resistance or some blood sugar abnormalities which can lead to weight gain and inflammation as we get older.
What are the Risk Factors ~
For Insulin Resistance, Pre-diabetes, and Diabetes
- Family History
- Over the Age of 45
- Excess Weight Gain or overweight
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- History of Gestational Diabetes or gave birth to a baby more than 9 lbs
- High Blood Pressure or abnormal cholesterol/ triglycerides
- Poor Sleep or Sleep Apnea
- Stress or depression
- Erratic Eating patterns/ poorly balanced meals
- Nutrient abnormalities (Vitamin D and Magnesium for example)
- African American, Alaskan, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
To find out more about your own risk check out the website for the American Diabetes Association https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk
The Weight Management Connection
Excess insulin can make some of us gain weight. The balance of our diet is of the utmost importance to avoid the ill effects of excess insulin. Sometimes when we think we are doing well with nutrition and exercise - it can be surprising to learn about carbohydrate portion sizes and how it compares to what is actually recommended for individuals. Also, many of us could increase our fiber as well. Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That's only about half the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day.
To be on the safe side aim for a balanced diet with 2-4 servings of healthy carbohydrate at each meal along with some protein and fiber and healthy fats. Fiber helps “calm the rise in blood sugar” so choosing carbohydrates that are high in fiber is the key.
Strict dieting or skipping meals can actually be problematic for some individuals. Sometimes people end up with high blood sugars if they go too long between meals. As we get older it’s trickier to regulate the amount of insulin and sugar that our body decides to put out. The pancreas puts out insulin and our liver will put out sugar if needed. If some of us go for too long without food our blood sugar can drop too low and then our liver turns around and can dump extra sugar into our blood system. So actually skipping meals (for some people) can make us have high blood sugars. Erratic eating patterns can contribute to insulin resistance and high blood sugars especially for people who have a family history or are prone to diabetes risk. If you are considering the trending “Intermittent Fasting” way to lose weight - consult with a registered dietitian to see if this would be a risk for you or how to choose which hours to fast for the healthiest way to execute a plan like this.
What can you do today?
So in summary, aim for a balanced diet, avoid eating excess carbohydrate and sugar, and manage your stress & sleep cycle. Also, daily healthy movement can significantly improve insulin resistance and prevent diabetes.
If you have a family history of diabetes, healthy weight challenges, or any symptoms listed above, it would be worth it to annually get your hemoglobin A-1 C checked. This is a screening for pre-diabetes and diabetes. It looks at your average glucose levels over a 3 month time frame and is a better indicator of your risk over only checking a fasting glucose.
If you do ever receive a diagnosis of diabetes don’t be alarmed. Instead learn about what to do with diet and lifestyle which can really make a difference for your health. If diagnosed take advantage of the hours offered for education with a diabetes dietitian and nurse specialty team.
Regardless of whether you want to manage or prevent diabetes and insulin resistance, reach a healthy weight, or if you just want to eat healthier ~ At Fluid Health and Fitness we help people navigate individualized plans for success.
If you are looking for 2-3 visits to jumpstart your weight loss efforts or if you want to work with a Registered Dietitian long-term to make a significant transformation contact us to set up a free 15-minute call to learn more about Fluid Health and Fitness.
Jen Sletten RDN, MA
Registered Dietitian / Nutritionist
Masters in Counseling Psychology