Decoding the Insulin Resistance - Central Obesity Connection

In the realm of weight management, the term 'insulin resistance' frequently surfaces. Yet, many remain unaware of the connection between insulin resistance and central obesity. Let's unravel this link, aiming to inspire a greater understanding that empowers individuals to prioritize their health.

What is the role of insulin?

Carbohydrates are like fuel for our body, when we eat them, the digestive system breaks them down into glucose, which signals the pancreas to release insulin. This important hormone acts like a key unlocking cells and allowing glucose (sugar) from food to enter and be used for energy.  

What is insulin resistance, what are the causes?

When insulin resistance occurs, glucose uptake by cells decreases, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. This triggers the body to release more insulin to try and drive glucose into cells. Over time, this can lead to higher levels of both insulin and sugar in your blood.

Insulin resistance can be influenced by genetic factors, age, sedentary lifestyle, dietary choices (especially high intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars), smoking, certain medications and obesity.

What is central obesity, what are the causes?

Central obesity refers to the accumulation of excess fat around the abdominal region, particularly visceral fat that surrounds internal organs. It is often measured using the waist circumference. Central obesity is associated with various factors, including a sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits (such as high intake of processed foods and sugary beverages), and genetic predisposition.

How are insulin resistance and central obesity linked, does one cause the other?

The relationship between insulin resistance and central obesity is complex and bidirectional, meaning they can influence each other in a vicious cycle as given below

  1. Insulin resistance leading to central obesity

As mentioned above, when insulin resistance occurs, glucose uptake into cells decreases, leading to high blood sugar levels. This triggers the body to release more insulin to try and drive glucose into cells. Over time, this chronically high insulin level can promote fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area, contributing to central obesity.

  1. Central obesity promoting insulin resistance

Excess fat, especially visceral fat around organs, releases inflammatory molecules and hormones that disrupt insulin signalling pathways. This makes cells less responsive to insulin, further worsening insulin resistance. Additionally, the increased demand for insulin due to central obesity can overwhelm the pancreas, leading to its eventual exhaustion and decreased insulin production.

Do all individuals with central obesity have insulin resistance?

The relationship isn't always linear. Some individuals can have central obesity without significant insulin resistance, and vice versa. Genetic factors, ethnicity, and other health conditions also play a role in this complex interplay. Addressing both insulin resistance and central obesity is crucial for preventing metabolic diseases.

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance and what are the consequences if ignored?

A waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women, patches of dark, velvety skin called acanthosis nigricans, skin tags are some of the symptoms. And also blood pressure readings of 130/80 or higher, fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dL, triglyceride level over 150 mg/dL, a HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women may indicate insulin resistance.

It is important to note that not everyone with insulin resistance experiences all of these symptoms, and some people may have none at all. This is why regular checkups and blood sugar monitoring are crucial. If you suspect insulin resistance, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and management. Early intervention can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes and other health complications.

If ignored insulin resistance may lead to prediabetes and metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of risk factors that increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure. Apart from this it may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) , a condition in which excess fat builds up in the liver. NAFLD can lead to serious liver problems, such as cirrhosis; Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) a hormonal disorder that affects women of childbearing age. PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms, including irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth.

Is Insulin resistance reversible, and how?

Good news is Yes!! Lose excess weight, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, reduce stress & Right diet – Whole foods, fruits and vegetables, legumes, soluble fibers and specific foods that can enhance insulin sensitivity including herbs and spices, avoiding high carbohydrates and sugary foods.

How  losing excess weight impacts insulin resistance?

Losing even a small amount of weight can have a significant positive impact on insulin resistance in several following ways

  1. Boost insulin sensitivity - Your cells become better at using glucose, reducing the insulin your body needs.
  2. Ease the pancreas's workload - By requiring less insulin, your pancreas stays healthier and produces insulin more efficiently.
  3. Stabilize blood sugar - Lower insulin needs and better glucose uptake keep blood sugar levels in check.
  4. Improve overall metabolism - Your body better utilizes glucose for energy, relying less on alternative sources like muscle.
  5. Potentially reverse early insulin resistance - Losing weight may even undo some damage, preventing further complications.

The benefits of weight loss for insulin resistance can be observed even with a modest 5-10% reduction in body weight. 

Losing excess fat deposits in the central region is one of the big challenges in our journey to being fit. Actifiber Lean and Fit is the ‘Inch Loss Expert’ that delivers both Weight loss & Fat loss to help you become Leaner & Fitter. It achieves this by Regulating Appetite Better, Supporting Weight Management, and Reducing Body Fat. Over the long term, it also helps you stay healthy and reduces risk of lifestyle health challenges.
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