Understanding Insulin Resistance & Diabetes
Understanding insulin is incredibly important, especially for those with diabetes. This important hormone is key to our survival and our ability to break down sugar for energy. By becoming familiar with the connection between insulin and sugar, diabetics can build a strong foundation for managing their blood sugar levels.
Insulin’s Role in the Body
As we all know, the food that we eat gets converted into energy for our bodies to function. A lot of our food is broken down into “glucose”, which is a simple sugar. Glucose travels through our blood and into different cells in our body where it is utilized for energy.
High glucose levels in the bloodstream can be damaging and need to be controlled in some way. This is done by the hormone insulin. If blood glucose gets too high, insulin is released by the pancreas. Insulin helps this excess glucose move out of the bloodstream and into our cells, thereby reducing blood glucose levels. Insulin also tells the liver to store some blood glucose to use later.
We can replenish low blood glucose levels by eating and accessing stored glucose in our livers. Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, your body can’t make enough insulin or you have cells that are resistant to insulin. This can lead to high amounts of sugar in the blood.
What Causes Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance can happen when too much blood sugar enters the bloodstream over time. The pancreas keeps pumping out insulin to move blood glucose into cells, but eventually, cells stop responding and become resistant. If this keeps happening, the pancreas won’t be able to keep up and blood sugar in the body will keep rising uncontrolled.
The body will tell the liver and muscles to start storing excess blood glucose. After that, it will be stored as body fat and cause weight gain. Reaching this stage also opens the door to developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance can be caused by different factors such as:
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Excess weight gain
- Low activity levels
Insulin Resistance and Eye Problems
People with diabetes must stay vigilant about their eye health, as insulin resistance can lead to vision problems. High blood sugar can cause blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Sadly, diabetes is the main cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74 years old.
Visiting your eye doctor regularly is important for diabetics looking to protect their vision and prevent serious eye problems. Your doctor can identify potential red flags and stop small concerns from turning into serious conditions.
Improving Insulin Sensitivity
Improving insulin sensitivity can help reduce insulin resistance and the likelihood of developing diabetes.
There are many great ways to do so such as:
- Cutting back on added sugars
- Getting quality sleep
- Becoming more active
- Finding positive outlets for stress
- Eating a plant-based diet
- Consuming herbs, spices, and fiber
As you can see, insulin plays an extremely important role in our health and well-being. By controlling our blood sugar levels, we can prevent our bodies from becoming insulin resistant and developing serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes. Doing so also protects our eyes and vision, as high blood glucose levels can lead to damaging effects in our eyes.