When most people hear “insulin,” they hear “diabetes.” But everyone can benefit from learning about how insulin affects the body.
Insulin sensitivity is how effective the body is at using insulin to reduce elevated blood glucose levels, with a greater efficacy being more ‘sensitivity’ and a poorer efficacy mean being more ‘resistant’. When the body becomes too poor at using insulin to reduce blood glucose levels, type 2 diabetes ensues. It is a general phenomenon in the body and can be measured a few ways through studies.
Or it is the relationship between how much insulin you need to deposit a certain amount of glucose. You are insulin sensitive if you need a small amount of insulin to deposit a certain amount of glucose, and insulin resistant if you need a lot of insulin to deposit the same amount of glucose.
Insulin sensitivity is good while the insulin resistance is a major risk factor for the development of Type II diabetes.
There are three main types of insulin sensitivity:
Peripheral insulin sensitivity is how readily body cells in your periphery tissue (muscle and fat) can absorb glucose, either themselves or when insulin stimulates them.
Hepatic insulin sensitivity is related to the process of gluconeogenesis (production of new blood sugar). Usually, inflammatory factors prevent insulin from acting in the liver via inducing insulin resistance. And insulin’s actions are unable to tell the liver to ‘stop’ producing glucose.
Pancreatic insulin sensitivity is the functioning of the cells that secrete insulin, the β cells. The pancreas secretes insulin in response to high blood sugar, and cells can absorb blood sugar when stimulated by insulin. Non-functioning of these can develop insulin resistance. This is more of a concern in diseases like Type I diabetes (insulin insufficiency) or Cystic Fibrosis (where the function is physically hindered).
How To Deal
There is an association with obesity and insulin resistance. Insulin resistant individuals usually have more body fat. However,lifestyle is also a big factor. As increases in insulin sensitivity can occur without weight loss.
The ability to reverse insulin resistance with exercise does not appear to be different between young and old. Exercise that you can maintain for a prolonged period of time seems to be able to acutely improve insulin resistance by increasing uptake of glucose into cells. Aerobic can increase insulin sensitivity immediately, as a session of 25-60 minutes for 3-5 days. Over the long term, aerobic exercise can preserve beneficial changes in insulin sensitivity.
Voluntary restriction of activity/drastic increase in sedentary activity can reduce insulin sensitivity in as little as 2 weeks.
Strength exercises (lifting weights usually) increase the insulin sensitivity as well as the muscle mass. In persons with impaired glucose tolerance, more sets of an exercise tend to be more effective. The more properly functioning muscle mass one has, the better peripheral insulin sensitivity is.
To keep insulin sensitivity high, cut down on refined carbohydrates, especially sugar.