Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone secreted by beta cells in our pancreas. We secrete insulin when our blood glucose and amino acid levels rise, which we break down from carbohydrates and proteins. Insulin travels to various cells, particularly our fat, liver, and muscle cells, and lands on a receptor. The receptor, which acts like a switch, signals a molecule called glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to move to the cell wall and take glucose from the bloodstream into the cell. The glucose is then transformed into fat or starch and is stored. Insulin levels are not low but instead are very high levels. There is plenty of insulin around, but it is not working very well. This is called ‘insulin resistance’ and results in glucose piling up in the blood. To compensate, the body produces more insulin. The insulin is still not working properly, but the higher amount of hormone allows the resistance to be ‘overcome’, forcing glucose to enter the cell.

When blood sugar drops, the pancreas stops insulin production, and the body can break down the starch or fat to use for energy.

When people with T2DM become overweight, and their abdominal fat cells are already packed full of fat, their fat cells can prevent glucose from entering the cells, as they do not need to turn more glucose into more fat. As a result, their insulin receptors lose their responsiveness. When insulin lands on a receptor, the cell does not automatically absorb glucose from the blood. You could say that this is not resistance, per-se, it is just the liver and muscle being full and redirecting energy storage to fat instead of sugar. To be stored in adipose tissue (fat cells). In the liver, insulin increases the new production of fat from glucose by stimulating the process of De Novo Lipogenesis (DNL). During feeding, the body must cope with more glucose than can be immediately used. Too much glucose and too much insulin cause the problem of insulin resistance. The ideal solution is to lower glucose and lower insulin. 

Insulin also directs the flow of energy. When we eat, more energy is immediately available than we can use. Insulin directs some of the energy to be used directly by the cells, and the surplus is stored as glycogen in the liver or as fat. When we stop eating, insulin levels fall. Low insulin levels signal the liver to release some of this stored food energy.

Exposure creates resistance

The human body is governed by a fundamental biological principle called homeostasis. Our body exists within a particular comfort zone and will resist change outside it. For instance, if we become very cold, the body adapts by increasing body-heat generation. If we become very hot, the body sweats to cool itself. Adaptability is a prerequisite for survival and generally holds true for all biological systems.

Put differently, the body develops resistance against whatever is trying to change things. Exposure creates resistance. The body resists cold by generating heat. However, the stimulus for resistance is the cold temperature itself. Here are a few examples.

Antibiotic resistance

When new antibiotics are introduced, they are highly effective, but this honeymoon period does not last long. With time and steady use, the antibiotic loses effectiveness, as some bacteria become drug-resistant “superbugs”. This situation is not limited to only a few antibiotics but is a universal problem because it reflects the universal principle of homeostasis. Exposure creates resistance. Increased antibiotic use naturally selects resistant organisms, which eventually dominate, rendering the antibiotic useless.

Insulin causes insulin resistance.

So, let’s go back to the question we are interested in. What causes insulin resistance? The first place to search is persistently high levels of insulin itself. As a person’s insulin levels increase, his or her levels of insulin resistance increase in lockstep – a protective mechanism and an excellent thing. If insulin resistance did not develop, high insulin levels would rapidly lead to very low blood sugars. The resulting severe hypoglycemia would quickly lead to seizures and death. The body protects itself by developing insulin resistance – demonstrating homeostasis. The resistance develops naturally to shield against substantial insulin levels. Insulin causes insulin resistance. 

Insulin creates insulin resistance. But insulin resistance also causes high insulin – a classic vicious, self-reinforcing cycle. Insulin drives up insulin resistance. This, in turn, drives up insulin levels. The cycle keeps going around and around, one element reinforcing the other, until insulin is driven up to extremes. The cause of insulin resistance is high persistent levels of insulin itself, also known as hyperinsulinemia.

T2DM insulin resistance is also associated with metabolic syndrome. There are several components to metabolic syndrome, which include central fat distribution (abdominal obesity, measured by waist circumference); raised triglyceride levels (greater than 150 mg/dL; 3.879 mmol/L); lowered high density cholesterol (HDL, or “good cholesterol”) levels (less than 40 mg/dL;1.0344 mmol/L in males and less than 50 mg/dL;1.293 mmol/L in females); elevated blood pressure (greater than 130/84 mmHg); and raised fasting plasma glucose (greater than 100 mg/dL).

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions, like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist, that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Consider it a warning sign that you are at higher risk for these serious health problems.

Is Insulin Resistance Good?

Everybody assumes that insulin resistance is very, very bad. It’s often called the root cause of T2DM and metabolic syndrome. But if it is really so bad, why is it so prevalent? Over 50% of people with type two diabetes have elevated insulin resistance as manifested by pre-diabetes or diabetes. If it is such a universal reaction, it must serve a protective purpose. Our bodies are not designed to fail. Insulin resistance must serve a protective function, being so common. So, how can it be protective? What is Insulin Resistance protecting us from?

The very name reveals the answer. *Insulin Resistance.* It’s a reaction against excessive insulin. The body develops resistance to protect us from too much insulin. In another way, insulin causes insulin resistance.

Remember, the primary problem is the excessive insulin, not the insulin resistance. The tissues (heart, nerves, kidney, eyes) are all increasing their resistance to protect themselves from insulin’s toxic delivery. The disease is not insulin resistance. The disease is hyperinsulinemia.

There are only two ways to eliminate excessive sugar in the body.

1. Don’t put sugar in.

2. Burn it off.

That’s it. That’s all you need to do. The best part? It’s all-natural and completely free. No drugs. No surgery. No cost.

Step 1 – Don’t put sugar in

The first step is eliminating all sugar and refined starches from your diet. Sugar has no nutritional value and can be safely eliminated. Starches are simply long chains of sugars. Highly refined starches such as flour or white rice are quickly digested into glucose. The optimum strategy is to eat little or no refined carbohydrates.

Dietary protein is digested into amino acids. Excess amino acids cannot be stored, so they are converted into glucose by the liver. Therefore, avoid eating excessive protein, which adds sugar to the body. Protein shakes, protein bars, and protein powders should all be avoided. Instead, focus on eating lots of vegetables and natural healthy fats. A moderate intake of protein is optimal. Most importantly, stick to eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods. Low refined carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high natural fats.

Step 2 – Burn it off.

The most important thing your doctor will ask you to do, even before prescribing any medicines, is to lose weight by exercising and reducing the calories in your diet. These two things will reduce the insulin resistance significantly. We know that weight loss really works, because when obese patients undergo gastric bypass surgery and reduce the total number of calories they eat, a lot of them (up to 80 percent of patients in some clinical studies) are able to stop their diabetes medicines and their glucose levels became normal. 

Intermittent Fasting is another simplest method to force your body to burn sugar.(DMMC advises anyone NOT to FAST without Consulting your Doctor!) Blood glucose is the most easily accessible source of energy. Fasting is merely the flip side of eating – if you are not eating, you are fasting. When you eat, your body stores food energy. When you fast, your body burns food energy. If you simply lengthen out your periods of Fasting, you can burn off the stored sugar.

Factors Involved with Insulin Resistance

1.Genetics and Ethnicity

People with a family history of diabetes are more likely to develop insulin resistance. Some ethnic groups are also more at risk, such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.


Overeating food, mainly processed foods and sugary drinks, can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for insulin resistance.

3.Central Obesity

Central obesity, also known as abdominal obesity, is the accumulation of excess fat around the waistline. This type of fat is more likely to cause insulin resistance than fat stored in other body parts.

4.Nutritional Deficiencies

Certain nutrients, such as chromium, magnesium, and zinc, are essential for insulin function. Deficiencies in these nutrients can contribute to insulin resistance.

5.Lack of Exercise

Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity. People who are sedentary are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

6.Hormone Imbalances

Hormone imbalances, such as high cortisol levels, can also cause insulin resistance.

7.Increased Saturated Fat and Increased Refined Carbohydrates

Saturated and refined carbohydrates can impair insulin sensitivity.


Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut bacteria. People with dysbiosis are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

9.Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing insulin resistance later in life.

10.Chronic Health Conditions

Certain chronic health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and Cushing’s syndrome, can also cause insulin resistance.


Some medications, such as steroids and antipsychotics, can cause insulin resistance as a side effect.

How to Handle Insulin Resistance

There are several things you can do to handle insulin resistance, including:

-Lose weight. Even a small amount of weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity.

-Eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Limit saturated and refined carbohydrates.

-Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

-Manage stress. Stress can increase cortisol levels, which can impair insulin sensitivity. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.

-Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for overall health, including insulin regulation. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

-Talk to your doctor. If you have insulin resistance, your doctor may recommend medication to help improve insulin sensitivity.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling insulin resistance. The best approach for you will depend on your individual circumstances. Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your insulin resistance and reduce your risk of developing diabetes and other complications.

*Do you have any questions on insulin resistance? Visit us at DMMC Ngara for Specialist consultation.*

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