Though you may not be living with diabetes, your body could be battling against the hormone insulin.
The condition, called insulin resistance, occurs when insulin can't effectively do its job.
"People often don't realize that insulin resistance can develop into diabetes," said Dawn Sherr, a diabetes educator for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. "And if they're not aware they're insulin resistant, they don't know what steps they can take to prevent it."
Insulin resistance is a fuzzy, often misunderstood concept. Here, we answer five common questions.
Q: How does the body become resistant to insulin?
A: When you eat, food is broken down into glucose to be used for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, tempers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream by helping glucose get into the muscle, fat and/or liver cells. "We think of insulin as a 'key' that opens doors to the body's cells, so glucose can enter," said diabetes educator Gary Scheiner.
With insulin resistance, it's like having locks that are frozen or rusty. The keys won't turn, and glucose can't get into the cell. The pancreas, alarmed by the increase in blood sugar, cranks out more insulin.
Eventually, the overworked pancreas breaks down. Blood sugar levels rise even further, causing pre-diabetes and setting the stage for Type 2 diabetes. "Most people think of diabetes as high blood sugar caused by too little insulin," said Scheiner, the author of "Think Like a Pancreas." But the insulin resistance is really the root cause of almost all cases of Type 2 diabetes.
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