Insulin Sensitivity Training
I hope you don’t take this wrong, but I think you are insensitive – insensitive to insulin that is. More commonly called “insulin resistance", people with early type 2 diabetes often produce plenty of insulin naturally, but its power to regulate glucose has faded. Insulin is produced by special cells in your pancreas called beta cells, and is released automatically when blood glucose levels begin to rise (like after eating carbohydrates). Its function is to escort glucose out of your blood and into muscle, fat and liver cells where it’s stored for quick energy, and to keep blood glucose levels steady when you haven’t eaten. When those storage cells don’t respond to insulin, excess glucose stays in your bloodstream.
Prediabetes, or “impaired glucose tolerance”, marks the beginnings of insulin resistance, and studies of groups with prediabetes, including the iconic and ongoing Diabetes Prevention Program, show some simple ways to improve insulin sensitivity. And, it’s all about lifestyle.
First, losing a modest amount of weight – only 5% to 7% of current weight – can bring remarkable improvements in insulin sensitivity. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity for 24 to 72 hours afterwards, in addition to its many other benefits to health. And, some diabetes medication, including Metformin, work to improve sensitivity to insulin – that’s why remembering to take your medication is so important.
Diabetes self-management is all about stepping in to help your body do what it used to do without your help. Even if you’re taking insulin by injection, improving your insulin sensitivity and managing carbohydrate intake work together to help keep blood glucose levels lower. And, keeping blood glucose levels lower can have a profound benefit to your quality of life over the long term.
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