68 million people in America have insulin resistance, making them at risk for diabetes. Could you be one of them?
Insulin is a hormone in the body that carries glucose into your cells for energy. When your cells become resistant to insulin, they do not allow this hormone to enter. This results in glucose remaining in your blood stream, where it rises over time. As your body becomes more and more insulin resistant, blood glucose rises higher and higher, which, if left untreated, can lead to type 2 diabetes over time. Take a look at these diet and lifestyle habits to help you determine your risk:
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing insulin resistance. When you have excess body fat, chances are you also have excess belly fat. This is the most dangerous fat to your health. Belly fat surrounds almost all of your vital organs in your midsection. Not only does this fat increase your waistline, but it also releases hormones and other substances into the body. If you have too much of this fat, it may release too much of these hormones and substances, which can increase disease risk. Research has shown that too much belly fat can increase the risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and even heart disease and certain cancers. To know if you have too much, measure your waist.
Your waist should be less than 35 inches if you are a woman and less than 40 inches if you are a man.
Physical activity is the amount of movement you do during the day. This includes structured exercise such as going for a long walk as well as day to day movement like going up and down the stairs. Since glucose is used by muscle more than other tissue in the body, the more active you are, the easier it is for your body to control insulin and blood glucose levels. Research has shown that exercise and physical activity make the body more sensitive to insulin, allowing it to work properly. If you are inactive most days, your cells are more likely to become resistant to insulin. To prevent this, aim to be active at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Always make sure to consult your doctor before starting or changing any exercise routine.
Food intake can play a large role in how insulin and glucose are processed in your body. A diet rich in simple carbohydrates (foods that are easily digested such as white flour, candy, and soda) can spike blood glucose and flood your blood stream with excess insulin. When your cells are exposed to excessive amounts of insulin, they can become resistant to it over time. Instead, choose carbohydrates that are broken down slowly in the body. This can allow you to better process glucose and insulin. Choose slowly digested carbs such as 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, beans, whole fruit, and milk.
High levels of stress can increase stress hormones in your body. These hormones, when released in large amounts, can contribute to insulin resistance. Both physical and mental stress can be damaging to your health and increase your diabetes risk. If you are feeling stressed out, work on relaxing by performing this simple deep breathing exercise:
- Take in a long, slow, breath through your nose.
- Feel the air fill your lungs completely. Now, push the air out of your lungs thru your mouth while keeping your lips puckered (like you are about to whistle).
- Allow your lungs to empty completely and then repeat.
This slow, forced breathing can reduce stress hormones and therefore reduce the risk of insulin resistance. Make these simple lifestyle adjustments to prevent insulin resistance and therefore reduce your risk of developing diabetes. If you already have been diagnosed with diabetes, making these lifestyle changes can help you to better control your blood glucose levels.