All About Daily Lexington News

Insulin Resistance Basics

May 1

Here’s roughly how insulin is supposed to work:

  • Most food you eat is broken down into blood sugar.
  • That blood sugar is just sort of drifting aimlessly in the bloodstream.
  • For most cells, glucose requires a transporter (a door) to enter. The body takes note and alerts the pancreas, which in turn deploys insulin to escort glucose toward various cell entrances, where glucose will serve as an energy source.
  • Of course, often we take in more fuel than is needed. If not for insulin, this excess glucose would be left to loiter in the bloodstream. Instead, it is distributed throughout the body: to muscles where it can be turned into glycogen, and to the liver and stored for a rainy day.
  • The glycogen in our muscle cells is the healthy store of sugar our body uses for energy during physical activity. The more we use a muscle group, the more we deplete its energy source.
    • Regular exercise increases the capacity for glycogen storage in the muscles and liver, which allows for extended or improved muscular performance. The muscle cannot fully recover after a significant workload without replenishment.
    • At the same time, if we do not adequately expend glycogen stores, insulin is forced to redirect any new glucose for storage around the body in fat cells.
  • When the distribution of glucose throughout the body is done, blood sugar decreases. At this point, the bulk of insulin’s work is done, and levels return to baseline.
  • Once insulin calls it a day, the liver takes note and releases any stored blood sugar to give insulin a break and tie you over until your next meal, when the whole process repeats itself.

What is insulin resistence? It doesn’t take an endocrinologist to recognize the nuances of this system and how quickly it can break down if one of the many cogs in the metabolic machine were to fall out of place. Thus, insulin resistance is best defined by the body’s failure to facilitate any part of the process, it is called insulin resistance.