Insulin resistance is a serious condition in which insulin becomes less able to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood (Pic. 1). Usually, insulin helps sugar move out of the blood and into the body's cells. In the cells, the body can use sugar to make energy. If this does not happen correctly, too much sugar stays in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia. If the blood glucose level is above normal for a long time, this can lead to major health problems.

Insulin resistance pr plays the crucial role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. People who develop type 2 diabetes usually pass through earlier stages of insulin resistance and prediabetes (means that blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes), although those often go undiagnosed. 

In addition, insulin resistance is considered the core factor in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and the metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes), and is often associated with obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) and also a dyslipidemic profile (an abnormal amount of lipids in the blood).

Symptoms depend on poorly understood variations in individual biology and consequently may not be found with all people diagnosed with insulin resistance. The symptoms include:

  • increased hunger
  • lethargy (tiredness)
  • brain fogginess and inability to focus
  • high blood sugar
  • weight gain, fat storage, difficulty losing weight – for most people, excess weight is from high subcutaneous fat storage; the fat in it is generally stored in and around abdominal organs in both males and females; it is currently suspected that hormones produced in that fat are a precipitating cause of insulin resistance
  • increased blood cholesterol levels
  • increased blood pressure; one of insulin's effects is to control arterial wall tension throughout the body

The primary treatment for insulin resistance is exercise and weight loss. Research shows that a low-carbohydrate diet may help.


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Impact of Genetic Polymorphisms on Insulin Resistance ―by Komurcu-Bayrak licensed under CC BY 3.0
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