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  • What You Should Know About Insulin Resistance | with Dr Lucy Caratti

    April 03, 2024 3 min read

    You may have heard about insulin resistance but you may not know the extent of what this condition causes. From the brain to your ovaries, insulin can have a negative effect on every cell in the body. But before we get into the effects of insulin, let’s look more closely at with the condition is.

    Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to sugar in the blood, to tell the cells to take up the sugar and use it as energy. When the sugar level in the body is elevated for a long period of time, the cells stop responding to the insulin, meaning the sugar level in the blood remains high. The body tries to produce more and more insulin in response to the sugar. This is insulin resistance.

    Insulin resistance can occur in anyone, but you can be more prone to it depending on your genetics, other comorbidities, lifestyle factors such as diet, stress and smoking, and if you are on certain medications such as steroids. If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during a pregnancy, this is a good indicator that you are at higher risk.

    The main issue with insulin resistance is that by the time it is detected, you may be in the diabetic range and damage to your body may be well underway. This is because in standard medical practice, doctors generally only check the fasting bloods glucose and/or an HbA1c, which shows your average blood glucose over the last 3 months. We can actually test your insulin resistance through a simple blood test using the ratio between your fasting blood glucose and your fasting insulin, which would give you a much earlier indication on your insulin sensitivity.

    High insulin levels are a cause of inflammation in the body and can be the reason why people can find it hard to lose weight, particularly abdominal weight. It is also one of the main reasons why women may suffer badly from perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms. In addition, it is directly associated with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), cardiovascular disease, strokes, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Another interesting fact is that oestradiol, the main oestrogen of reproductive age women, is insulin sensitising, protecting you from developing insulin resistance. As the oestradiol levels drop with late perimenopause and after menopause, women become more prone to insulin resistance, hence why Type 2 Diabetes Mellitis, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses become more prevalent in women after menopause.

    So what can you do to detect, prevent and treat insulin resistance?

  • Ask your doctor if you can get a private test (meaning you will need to pay for it) for your fasting insulin. Despite what the “normal” ranges are, you want to aim for an insulin of 4-6.

  • Eat a varied wholefood diet, with plenty of protein, a wide range of vegetables and legumes and lots of good fats.

  • Cut out processed foods including grain and flour products, sugar in all its forms and alcohol.

  • Try some time restricted eating, starting with 13 hours overnight of fasting. This can be extended as your body becomes used to it and if your body’s stress hormone is coping.

  • Ensure regular exercise including weight training.

  • Keep your stress levels under control, including morning sunlight, time in nature, meditation, social connection and purpose.

  • Ensure regular good quality sleep to balance all the hormones that effect your blood sugar and hunger levels.

  • If you’re struggling to get results from the above, you can discuss with your integrative healthcare practitioner regarding herbs, supplements and medications that can assist you.

    Dr Lucy Caratti can work with your regular GP to support you with specialised and specific women's health care.
    Dr Lucy Caratti is a highly qualified Integrative Doctor with 15 years of clinical experience and an expert in women's health, particularly issues like menopause, gut health, metabolic diseases, and hormonal imbalances.  

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