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What Makes Your Insulin?

Insulin Resistance: Causes, Symptoms And Prevention

Insulin Resistance: Causes, Symptoms And Prevention

Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, allows cells to absorb glucose so that it can be used as energy. The cells of individuals with insulin resistance are unable to use insulin effectively. When cells cannot absorb glucose, it builds up in the blood. If glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnostic for diabetes, it is referred to as prediabetes. This page will look at the current understanding of insulin resistance and explain how it is a risk factor for both diabetes and other conditions. The article will also explain the signs and how it can be avoided. Contents of this article: Here are some key points about insulin resistance. More detail and supporting information is in the main article. Insulin resistance itself does not present any symptoms if it occurs without prediabetes or diabetes Blood sugar levels with insulin resistance are normal Insulin resistance alone is not treated, but preventing prediabetes or diabetes from developing can be achieved through lifestyle measures What is insulin resistance? Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing prediabetes, and, eventually, type 2 diabetes. Around 15-30 percent of people with prediabetes go on to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 5 years, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarly, the American Heart Association (AHA) say that about half of people with high blood sugar go on to develop type 2 diabetes within a decade. The AHA also point out that this means half of these people do not develop diabetes - "your choices make a difference." In other words, individuals can reduce their chances of progressing to type 2 diabetes in the future by making some preventive lifestyle changes. Not only that, but these steps can also Continue reading >>

Metformin: Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Metformin: Improving Insulin Sensitivity

Metformin is the only medication in the biguanides category of blood glucose-lowering drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Metformin has been available in the United States since the mid-1990s, when it received FDA approval. You may also know it by its brand name when it was under patent, Glucophage. Metformin is now widely available as a relatively inexpensive generic medication. Metformin’s main action is to decrease the overproduction of glucose by the liver, a common problem in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The action of metformin helps lower blood sugar levels particularly during the night to keep fasting glucose levels under control, but it also helps control blood glucose throughout the day. Metformin also increases the uptake of glucose by your muscles. Overall, metformin decreases insulin resistance and improves insulin sensitivity, thereby helping the insulin your body still makes work more effectively. People with prediabetes and in the early years of type 2 diabetes often continue to make some insulin, just not enough to control blood sugar levels alone. Metformin is not formally approved for use in prediabetes, and any use to treat prediabetes is considered off-label by providers. Since its approval, metformin has become the most commonly recommended blood glucose-lowering medication to treat type 2 diabetes. In recent years it has significantly replaced sulfonylureas, such as glipizide and glyburide. Today both the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) generally recommend that people with type 2 diabetes start taking metformin when they are diagnosed to help treat insulin resistance and maximize insulin s Continue reading >>

Make Your Insulin Last A Lifetime

Make Your Insulin Last A Lifetime

If youve seen my TED talk , then you know I spend a fair amount of time teaching folks how to use their insulin more efficiently so that they dont run out, and so they have enough (hopefully) to last a lifetime. Insulin is like a valet service that escorts blood sugar from your blood to all your cells. If you dont have enough, your sugars start to rise. The fact is that even though you need insulin to live, it is not your friend. You want to use as little as possible. You want the levels of insulin in your bloodstream to stay as low as possible. Just like blood sugar, you want your insulin levels to remain low. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons.The first reason is that you can think of insulin as the fat-storage hormone.If you control your insulin levels, you control the amount of fat you deposit. And not just that, but insulin prefers to store fat in your belly, the worst place possible. Belly fat is called visceral fat.Visceral fat is the bad stuff.You may have heard of people who are shaped like apples vs. people who are shaped like pears. And you may know that apples are the ones who are at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease?Those are the folks with high insulin levels. And thats the second reason you want to conserve your insulin. The third reason is that insulin stiffens your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure. Fourth, insulin raises triglycerides, one of the cholesterol measurements that makes up your lipid panel.And believe me, you do not want your triglycerides to rise!Why not? Because its associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Do you see the pattern? Fifth, insulin interferes with fertility.If you have heard of polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, you may already know that this syndrome reduces fer Continue reading >>

How Many Factors Actually Affect Blood Glucose?

How Many Factors Actually Affect Blood Glucose?

A printable, colorful PDF version of this article can be found here. twitter summary: Adam identifies at least 22 things that affect blood glucose, including food, medication, activity, biological, & environmental factors. short summary: As patients, we tend to blame ourselves for out of range blood sugars – after all, the equation to “good diabetes management” is supposedly simple (eating, exercise, medication). But have you ever done everything right and still had a glucose that was too high or too low? In this article, I look into the wide variety of things that can actually affect blood glucose - at least 22! – including food, medication, activity, and both biological and environmental factors. The bottom line is that diabetes is very complicated, and for even the most educated and diligent patients, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that affects blood glucose. So when you see an out-of-range glucose value, don’t judge yourself – use it as information to make better decisions. As a patient, I always fall into the trap of thinking I’m at fault for out of range blood sugars. By taking my medication, monitoring my blood glucose, watching what I eat, and exercising, I would like to have perfect in-range values all the time. But after 13 years of type 1 diabetes, I’ve learned it’s just not that simple. There are all kinds of factors that affect blood glucose, many of which are impossible to control, remember, or even account for. Based on personal experience, conversations with experts, and scientific research, here’s a non-exhaustive list of 22 factors that can affect blood glucose. They are separated into five areas – Food, Medication, Activity, Biological factors, and Environmental factors. I’ve provided arrows to show the ge Continue reading >>

Effects Of Coffee Consumption On Fasting Blood Glucose And Insulin Concentrations

Effects Of Coffee Consumption On Fasting Blood Glucose And Insulin Concentrations

Randomized controlled trials in healthy volunteers Higher habitual coffee consumption was associated with higher insulin sensitivity (1) and a lower risk for type 2 diabetes (2–6) in diverse populations. In contrast, short-term metabolic studies showed that caffeine intake can acutely lower insulin sensitivity (7–9) and increase glucose concentrations (10–15). Randomized intervention studies are needed to examine whether tolerance to these acute effects develops after longer-term consumption (16). We therefore examined the effects of coffee and caffeine on fasting blood concentrations of glucose and insulin over 2–4 weeks in two crossover studies in healthy volunteers. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The studies were approved by the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Medical Ethics Committee, and all participants gave informed consent. The trials were originally designed to study the effects of coffee and caffeine on plasma concentrations of homocysteine, and the study designs have been reported in detail previously (17,18). Participants were regular coffee consumers (more than five cups/day) and did not have known diabetes. The first study was a 4-week crossover study that compared the effects of regular paper-filtered coffee consumption with that of coffee abstinence. A total of 40 volunteers used 1 l of coffee (70 g coffee grounds) for 4 weeks and abstained from coffee for 4 weeks in random order. Fourteen participants did not complete the trial because of nausea and restlessness (n = 7), possible susceptibility to adverse effects of caffeine intake (n = 3), or reasons unrelated to treatment (n = 4). Thus, 26 participants were included in the analysis. The second study had a Latin-square design with three treatments given in random order for 2 weeks each: caffeine ( Continue reading >>

Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance

Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance

What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. The pancreas contains clusters of cells called islets. Beta cells within the islets make insulin and release it into the blood. Insulin plays a major role in metabolism—the way the body uses digested food for energy. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates—sugars and starches found in many foods—into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. With the help of insulin, cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Insulin's Role in Blood Glucose Control When blood glucose levels rise after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin and glucose then travel in the blood to cells throughout the body. Insulin helps muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose. The stored form of glucose is called glycogen. Insulin also lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. In a healthy person, these functions allow blood glucose and insulin levels to remain in the normal range. What happens with insulin resistance? In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. The beta cells in the pancreas try to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. As long as the beta cells are able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, blood glucose levels stay in the healthy range. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes because the bet Continue reading >>

Is Stress Messing With Your Blood Sugar?

Is Stress Messing With Your Blood Sugar?

Researchers have linked dozens of physical symptoms to stress overload, from fatigue to weight gain. You can add another symptom to that list: high blood sugar. (Heal your whole body with Rodale's 12-day liver detox for total body health.) When you're stressed, your body is primed to take action. This "gearing up" is what causes your heart to beat faster, your breath to quicken, and your stomach to knot. It also triggers your blood glucose levels to skyrocket. "Under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising blood sugar levels to prepare you for action," says Richard Surwit, PhD, author of The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution and chief of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, NC. If your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar builds up in your blood, with nowhere to go, leading to hyperglycemia. We have no shortage of short-term stress in our lives—from traffic jams to working long hours at a demanding job—and our stress hormones, which were designed to deal with short-term dangers like fleeing predators, are turned on for long periods of time, even though we're neither fighting nor fleeing. What we're doing is stewing, which can cause chronically high blood sugar. A prescription to take it easy The good news is, simple relaxation exercises and other stress management techniques can help you gain more control over your blood sugar, according to a study conducted at Duke University. More than 100 people with high blood sugar took five diabetes education classes either with or without stress-management training. After a year, more than half of the stress-relief group improved their blood sugar levels enough to lower their risk for the worst complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, and vision problems. Study participan Continue reading >>

Insulin Resistance May Be Making You Fat

Insulin Resistance May Be Making You Fat

Insulin resistance is a hormonal issue and may be the reason the scales aren't shifting. For many years, scientists and nutritionists have preached that weight loss comes down to a simple equation: kilojoules in versus kilojoules out. While this principle is true to an extent, there are a number of increasingly common hormonal shifts that can alter this relationship. Insulin resistance, the clinical condition that precedes type 2 diabetes, is one such diagnosis. Individuals with insulin resistance will struggle to lose weight via traditional weight loss prescriptions simply because their body is not burning fuel the way it should be. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas and used to digest carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in plant-based foods including bread, rice, breakfast cereal, pasta, fruits and sugars. When carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed, insulin is secreted by the pancreas to take glucose from the food to the muscles for energy. For a number of reasons, over time insulin may fail to work as well as it should. Weight gain, where fat clogs the cells, is one reason, as is a lack of physical activity. Genes can also predispose a person to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The highly processed nature of our daily carbohydrate food choices, including breads, breakfast cereal and snack foods, which require much higher amounts of insulin than less processed, low-GI carbohydrates, is also thought to be a significant contributing factor to the increased incidence of insulin resistance. Resistance to insulin builds up over time, with the body gradually producing more and more insulin in an attempt to get it to work better at taking glucose to the body's cells for energy. As insulin is also a fat-storing hormone, the more of it that circulates in th Continue reading >>

Pcos: Insulin And Metformin

Pcos: Insulin And Metformin

Young women with PCOS often have elevated insulin levels and are more likely to develop diabetes. Metformin is a medication often prescribed for women with PCOS to help prevent diabetes. A lifestyle that includes healthy nutrition and daily exercise is the most important part of a PCOS treatment plan. What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone made by an organ in the body called the pancreas. The food you eat is broken down into simple sugar (glucose) during digestion. Glucose is absorbed into the blood after you eat. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells of the body to be used as energy. If there’s not enough insulin in the body, or if the body can’t use the insulin, sugar levels in the blood become higher. What is insulin resistance? If your body is resistant to insulin, it means you need high levels of insulin to keep your blood sugar normal. Certain medical conditions such as being overweight or having PCOS can cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance tends to run in families. What can insulin resistance do to me? High insulin levels can cause thickening and darkening of the skin (acanthosis nigricans) on the back of the neck, axilla (under the arms), and groin area. In young women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. This can cause increased body hair, acne, and irregular or few periods. Having insulin resistance can increase your risk of developing diabetes. How can I lower my insulin levels? You can help lower your insulin levels naturally by eating fewer starches and sugars, and more foods that are high in fiber and low in refined carbohydrates. Low glycemic foods, on the other hand, don’t raise your blood sugar or insulin levels as much as foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydr Continue reading >>

Why Blood Sugar Can Be High In The Morning

Why Blood Sugar Can Be High In The Morning

You wouldn’t expect hours of sleep and fasting to leave you with high blood sugar. But elevated morning glucose may be more common than you think. Although it’s not a major problem when it occurs from time to time, consistently high morning levels need your doctor’s attention. Causes of Morning Hyperglycemia High blood glucose in the morning typically occurs due to one of three distinct causes: Dawn Phenomenon The “dawn phenomenon” describes high morning glucose that occurs due to a natural rise in hormone levels. During the early morning hours between about 4 and 8 a.m., your body releases hormones like cortisol and growth hormones to get ready for the day. For reasons experts don’t completely understand, your liver produces extra glucose in response to these hormones. People without diabetes secrete more insulin to handle the extra glucose. But for people with diabetes, blood glucose levels can rise too high. Increased blood sugar due to the dawn phenomenon is usually treated with diabetes medication. If you are on insulin, your insulin levels may need to be changed. The Somogyi Effect It’s possible to experience low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, while sleeping and not even know it. The potentially dangerous problem can occur for a number of different reasons—from not eating enough or taking too much insulin, to drinking too much alcohol. In some people, the body compensates for the hypoglycemia by producing a lot of hormones. This, in turn, causes blood sugar levels to rise. Not everyone wakes in reaction to low blood glucose levels. But being sweaty or having a headache in the morning can be a sign. If you suffer from the Somogyi effect (named after the scientist who first described the condition), your doctor may recommend that you eat a snack befor Continue reading >>

What Makes Glucose Levels Rise And Fall?

What Makes Glucose Levels Rise And Fall?

When you have diabetes it is important to understand what might make your blood glucose level rise or fall so that you can take steps to stay on target. ••••• When you eat any type of carbohydrate (starches, fruits, milk, sugars etc.), your body breaks it down into simple sugars. These get absorbed into the blood stream and insulin helps remove them from the blood into the cells to be used for energy. Without diabetes, our body usually makes just the right amount of insulin to match the food eaten, when diabetes is present, tablets or insulin injections are required to help this process. Things that can make your blood glucose rise A meal or snack with a bigger portion of carbohydrates than usual Less activity than usual Side effects of some medications Infection, surgery or other illness Changes in hormone levels, such as during menstrual periods, or adolescence Stress Things that can make your blood glucose fall A meal or snack with a smaller portion of carbohydrates than usual Taking too much insulin or a dose increase of your diabetes tablets Extra physical activity Side effects of some medications Missing a meal or a snack Drinking alcohol Continue reading >>

Too Much Insulin? How To Reset Your Metabolism

Too Much Insulin? How To Reset Your Metabolism

By: Mark Hyman, M.D. Are your hormones out of balance? Does your life feel like a song played badly out of tune? If so, the problem may have to do with imbalances in your hormones, which are wreaking havoc on your body and mind. Today I want to focus on the most common — and therefore the most problematic — of hormonal problems in Americans today: too much insulin. When you eat too much sugar, flour and white rice, your insulin levels spike. When this happens, your cells become resistant to its effects. So you pump out more and more insulin, become even more resistant to its effects, and end up in the vicious cycle of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can cause energy and mood swings — and it can take you down the slippery road toward high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cancer, brain aging, dementia, and more. Between 80 and 100 million Americans suffer from insulin resistance. It is not exactly the same in everyone, but the ultimate consequences can be similar. How do you know if you suffer from insulin resistance? Most people with insulin resistance have extra fat around the middle. (Quick Tip: Check your waist-to-hip ratio — the measurement around your belly button divided by the measurement around your hips. If it is greater than 0.8, you likely have insulin resistance.) You may be tall, thin, short, fat, or any combination of these and still have insulin resistance. The only way to know for sure is to take an insulin response test, which measures blood sugar and insulin while you are fasting and one and two hours after you consume a 75-gram sugar drink. Just measuring blood sugar alone isn’t enough. You have to measure insulin — this is something that many doctors miss. Fortunately, balancing blood sugar and correcting insulin resistance a Continue reading >>

The 4 Foods That Will Steady Your Blood Sugar

The 4 Foods That Will Steady Your Blood Sugar

Wondering what blood sugar has to do with you, if you don’t have diabetes? Keeping your blood sugar levels as steady as possiblenow may help you avoid getting diabetes later. “As you get older, your risk for type 2 diabetes goes up,” says Alissa Rumsey, Registered Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Since you can’t modify your age, it is important to take other steps to lower your risk, including maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough exercise, and balancing your diet to prevent spikes in blood sugar.” Controlling your blood sugar will also just make you feel better. “It’s best to control blood sugar—it keeps your energy stable,” says Leann Olansky, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “If your blood sugar doesn’t vary that much before and after a meal, that’s a healthier way to be.” Unrelated to diabetes, symptoms of occasional high blood sugar aren’t life-threatening, but rather unpleasant and only potentially dangerous if you suffer from other health problems. “When your blood sugar is too high, it can make you feel sluggish,” says Dr. Olansky. “When it’s higher still, it can lead to dehydration and make your blood pressure unstable, and cause you to urinate more often, especially at night.” But when your blood sugar remains chronically high, insulin, a hormone that’s supposed to help your body store sugar as energy, stops working as it should. “Prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance, meaning your body isn’t able to use insulin properly,” says Rumsey. “Over time this insulin resistance can develop into diabetes, when insulin isn’t able to keep your blood sugar within normal levels.” Current research reveals an association between spik Continue reading >>

The Muscle-building Messenger: Your Complete Guide To Insulin

The Muscle-building Messenger: Your Complete Guide To Insulin

Years ago, insulin was only discussed in reference to diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that drives glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells, and diabetes is the loss of the ability to control blood glucose levels. Yet insulin is so much more than a hormone that controls glucose. For one, it's highly anabolic, which means it's critical for building muscle. Insulin also has a dark side, because it can increase fat storage. The challenge is to learn how to spike insulin to optimally recover from workouts and grow, while also blunting it to stay lean. Do you know all the facts about insulin and how to use it to your advantage? Don't be so sure. If not, my insulin guide will teach you how. Insulin And Muscle Insulin is actually a protein, and it is produced and released by the pancreas whenever you eat carbs, protein, or both. (That is, if the pancreas is working properly). Yet unlike the proteins that are the physical building blocks of muscle, this is a functional protein, much like growth hormone. Like all other proteins, insulin is a chain of amino acids strung together. But the way this protein chain is folded makes it act more like a signaling mechanism than a building block. From the pancreas, insulin enters the blood stream and travels to various tissues, including muscle tissue. The muscle fibers (or cells) are lined with insulin receptors, similar to a docking station. Once the insulin molecule docks onto the receptor, it signals the muscle cell to open up gates. This allows allow glucose, amino acids, and creatine to enter the muscles. This process is a major reason why insulin is so important for building muscle. Another reason is that when insulin docks onto the muscle cells, it instigates biochemical reactions in the muscle that increase protein synthesis, Continue reading >>

How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy

How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy

All parts of the body (muscles, brain, heart, and liver) need energy to work. This energy comes from the food we eat. Our bodies digest the food we eat by mixing it with fluids (acids and enzymes) in the stomach. When the stomach digests food, the carbohydrate (sugars and starches) in the food breaks down into another type of sugar, called glucose. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later. However, our bodies need insulin in order to use or store glucose for energy. Without insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels high. How the Body Makes Insulin Insulin is a hormone made by beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells are very sensitive to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Normally beta cells check the blood's glucose level every few seconds and sense when they need to speed up or slow down the amount of insulin they're making and releasing. When someone eats something high in carbohydrates, like a piece of bread, the glucose level in the blood rises and the beta cells trigger the pancreas to release more insulin into the bloodstream. See Illustration: How Insulin Works Insulin Opens Cell Doors When insulin is released from the pancreas, it travels through the bloodstream to the body's cells and tells the cell doors to open up to let the glucose in. Once inside, the cells convert glucose into energy to use right then or store it to use later. As glucose moves from the bloodstream into the cells, blood sugar levels start to drop. The beta cells in the pancreas can tell this is happening, so they slow down the amount of insulin they're making. At the same time, the pancreas slows Continue reading >>

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