What is Insulin Resistance and What Causes It?

Blood sugar testing
Make sure to get your blood sugar tested

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the pancreas produces insufficient amounts of insulin in the blood. The condition occurs when the body has developed a tolerance to insulin, and its effects are compromised. As a result, the body does not respond as well to insulin as it should. In order to overcome this problem, the pancreas produces more insulin. This is known as hyperinsulinemia. Patients with this condition will need to take special insulin treatments to overcome the condition.

In addition to affecting health, insulin resistance is a risk factor for many other types of diseases, including: 

  • cardiovascular disease, 
  • osteoporosis, 
  • and depression. 


Those with diabetes may have a family history of the disease, a sleeping disorder, or a first-degree relative with diabetes. While it is impossible to eliminate or avoid risk factors altogether, there are certain things a person can do to reduce their risk for this disorder. Keeping a healthy weight and maintaining a regular exercise program is important.

What causes Insulin Resistance?

Although the condition does not have obvious symptoms, insulin resistance is often associated with type 2 diabetes. It develops due to an insufficient amount of insulin in the body. It takes more insulin to make muscle cells, and fat cells accept glucose for energy. Because of this, the body becomes resistant to the hormone, and a person with insulin-resistant diabetes needs more insulin than a person with type 1 diabetes. This can be life-threatening, so it is important to identify the causes and symptoms of insulin resistance and take measures to treat them.

Other factors that contribute to insulin resistance include:

  • excessive levels of fat in the body, 
  • chronically elevated insulin levels, 
  • and certain medications. 


Some researchers have also linked obesity with an increased risk of insulin resistance, such as processed oil. Other risk factors include genetics, stress, and poor eating habits. In fact, there are more cases of insulin resistance in women than in men. While the cause is not clear, it's believed to be a combination of factors, including the wrong type of fat and an unhealthy lifestyle.


Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

In addition to lowering your blood sugar levels, insulin resistance can also lead to a number of other conditions. 


A person with insulin-resistant diabetes: 

  • may be thirstier than normal, 
  • urinate more frequently, 
  • experience fatigue, 
  • and even suffer from blurred vision

Other symptoms of insulin-resistant diabetes include: 

  • tingling sensations in the feet, 
  • numbness in the legs, 
  • and an inactive lifestyle. 

If you're experiencing symptoms of insulin-resistant diabetes, your doctor will prescribe medicine to help you manage the condition.

Insulin resistance can lead to serious health problems. Patients may experience major hair loss, increased sebum production, and more frequent or irregular periods. 


The symptoms of insulin resistance may vary depending on the severity of the condition. If you have a family history of diabetes, it is recommended that you consult your physician. Your doctor will prescribe an exercise program and a healthy diet to prevent or manage insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance Diagnosis

In order to diagnose insulin resistance, a blood test is needed. The doctor will use a finger prick test or a small needle inserted into a vein. Often, the patient will be asked to fast for 8 hours before the blood sample is drawn. The doctor will send the blood sample to a lab for analysis. 


The result will include the fasting blood sugar level, which will be high if you have an elevated level of insulin. Your doctor may also conduct tests on your cholesterol levels to rule out any other causes of the condition.

Insulin resistance can be detected through a fasting plasma glucose test and a glucose tolerance test. These tests can be used to diagnose and monitor patients with the condition. Other tests that can be used to diagnose insulin resistance include a glycated hemoglobin A1c, which shows the average blood glucose levels over a period of three months. A lipid panel will measure fatty acids and cholesterol in the blood and can also be used to detect this metabolic syndrome. Inflammatory responses to insulin can also be symptoms of insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance Treatment

If you have insulin resistance, treatment is important to address it right away. The problem is often caused by high cholesterol and insulin levels, so it is important to take action to improve your health. 


Thankfully, there are several ways to reduce your risk of insulin-resistant diabetes. A doctor can prescribe medicines for you to take if your blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. By making healthy changes in your diet, you can improve your health and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.


diabetes test
See a doctor to get health tips for diabetics.


The diagnosis of insulin-resistant diabetes is difficult. Despite the fact that the condition is related to dietary and exercise choices, it is not a disease of the pancreas itself. 


In most cases, a person suffering from insulin resistance will need to take prescription medications. In addition to these prescriptions, the patient may also wish to consider herbal remedies that may be helpful in overcoming insulin-resistant diabetes. There are many herbal medicines that can combat this disease, and the use of natural products like ginseng is growing in popularity.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends blood glucose testing for adults who are overweight or obese. The AAFP also recommends that obese adults should undergo a blood glucose screening every three years. In addition to assessing your overall health, diabetes prevention involves lowering your body weight and making lifestyle changes. Losing 10 percent of your body weight and daily exercising can reduce your risk of developing the condition. This will prevent the disease and improve your quality of life.

Key Takeaways

If you are overweight or obese, you can reverse the effects and symptoms of insulin resistance by changing certain lifestyle habits. A sedentary lifestyle, a lack of physical activity, and a family history of diabetes are all factors that can contribute to insulin resistance. However, you can lower these risk factors by taking the proper medication and changing your eating habits. When you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, you will be happier and healthier. This is one of the best weight loss secrets shared by integrative medicine doctors in Atlanta. When you make a change, your health will benefit naturally.

Author: Olivia Parker works as the Marketing Manager at Dr. Bindiya MD. She is pursuing a career in Functional and Integrative Medicine with a goal to inform and educate anyone curious about Alternative Medicine. She encourages people to achieve optimal health goals by uniting conventional primary care with functional and integrative medicine.

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