The Prevalance of Insulin Resistance
Insulin Resistance has many factors that contribute to its presence in the body. In essence, our environment and lifestyles have evolved too rapidly for our bodies to keep pace. We are still genetically “wired” to thrive on the entrenched habits of our ancestors who consumed different, nutrient-rich foods and a diet low in carbohydrates, as well as sustaining greater levels of movement and exercise.
Some people can also have a genetic predisposition to Insulin Resistance. Others develop Insulin Resistance through unhealthy lifestyles involving poor diet and lack of regular exercise.
Over time, the above factors have damaged the complex ability of our bodies’ cells to properly utilize insulin to convert glucose to energy. Unhealthy, high-carbohydrate diets cause the pancreas to overproduce insulin.
Insulin, which acts like a “key in a lock,” becomes less effective in opening up the cell and allowing glucose to pass through and be converted to energy. As a result, insulin bounces off the cell and enters the bloodstream. Unable to enter the cell, glucose is converted to fat, leading to weight gain and obesity.
Another of Insulin Resistance’s negative aspects is free-floating insulin, which can damage the lining of the arteries, which contributes to atherosclerosis. This condition is characterized by a dangerous build-up of plaque on the artery walls and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Insulin Resistance and obesity are underlying causes of the cluster of cardiovascular disorders called Metabolic Syndrome (also known as Syndrome X). Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by the following symptoms: excessive fat tissue in and around the abdominal area, blood fat disorders, such as high levels of fat-storing substances called triglycerides, increased LDL “bad” cholesterol, lowered HDL “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, Insulin Resistance, and Pro-thrombotic or Pro-inflammatory States. As your weight increases, stressors build up on the entire cardiovascular system, with the lungs and heart, for example, having to work harder to distribute an adequate amount of freshly-oxygenated blood throughout the body.
Up to 25 percent of the adult population of the United States is thought to suffer from Metabolic Syndrome. This means 58-73 million American men and women are at risk from the condition, which substantially increases the chances of damaging the cardiovascular system. Metabolic Syndrome has also been linked to an increased risk of developing Pre-and Type 2 Diabetes. (See Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.)
A Leading Cause of Infertility
In addition to all the other risks, women with Metabolic Syndrome also have higher occurrences of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility, which also puts sufferers at greater risk of developing various forms of Diabetes, as well as liver, breast, and colon cancer. The condition can also cause excessive hair growth in women, as well as male pattern baldness and skin conditions like acne and brown patches. (See also Insulin Resistance, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Heart Disease.)
Increased levels of insulin and glucose in the bloodstream of individuals with Metabolic Syndrome have been proven to inflict damage to the lining of the arteries, as well as affecting changes in the kidneys’ ability to remove salt and causing a greater risk of blood clot formation.
Research by Louisiana State University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2003 found that those suffering from Metabolic Syndrome were at significantly greater risk of dying from a heart attack than those without the condition. The study, conducted over a 15-year period, concluded that men with Metabolic Syndrome are 2.9 to 4.2 times more likely to die of a heart attack.
Growing scientific evidence demonstrates additional risk factors. A study by Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University found that men with Metabolic Syndrome had a 78 percent greater risk of having a stroke than those free of the condition. Women had a 50 percent greater risk. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Recommendations for reducing heart disease risk are the same as those for reducing Insulin Resistance and the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome: balancing glucose and insulin levels in the bloodstream, losing weight, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowering blood pressure to normal levels to prevent damage to the cardiovascular system.
This can be achieved through careful meal choices, including low-cholesterol food, together with regular exercise and weight loss in overweight individuals.
Click here to read about the Insulite MetaX System that can help to reverse the symptoms of Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome
Combating Heart Disease
Nearly all of us are born with immaculate arteries. But as soon as we learn how to feed ourselves, our arteries begin to go from clean to clogged. Taking better care of our cardiovascular system by watching our weight via a balanced diet and regular exercise goes a long way toward countering this effect. Adopting a healthier lifestyle will add years to your life as well as improving its quality.
If you pass this information on to your children, they, too, can take steps to avoid premature heart disease.
It isn’t just adult men who are especially prone to heart disease. Even pre-menopausal women, who were long considered resistant to “heart trouble,” should learn to reduce the risk factors that can cause damage to their cardiovascular system later in life.
When it comes to heart disease, there are factors that you can’t influence, like genetic vulnerability-we can’t choose our ancestors or alter our genes-and the aging process. But there are plenty of other areas where the effectiveness of taking preventive action is well documented by facts and figures.
Stopping smoking is a prime example. More than 400,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smokers are four times more likely to have heart attacks and develop cardiovascular diseases than non-smokers. Men have a slightly higher risk than women. On average, lifetime smokers have a 50 percent chance of dying from a smoking-related disease. But quitting can quickly begin to nullify the risk-it’s never too late to stop. One year after quitting, your risk of heart disease drops by 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Within 15 years a former smoker’s risk of dying from heart disease approaches that of a lifetime non-smoker.
Lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol has enormous benefits. Doctors and nutritionists have a wealth of information about low-cholesterol diets. Almost everyone who has a heart attack or undergoes bypass surgery is now given a statin, a type of cholesterol-lowering agent, regardless of his or her cholesterol level. The statin drugs that reduce cholesterol also reduce the level of C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Switching to low-cholesterol food is highly advisable.
Controlling Your Blood Pressure and getting it to normal levels greatly reduces the risk of both stroke and heart attack by slowing down the formation of arterial plaque that narrows the blood vessels everywhere in the body-especially in the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and legs.
Managing Your Blood Sugar is vital to avoiding Pre-Diabetes, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. (See Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Heart Disease.) Although Type 2 Diabetes can be managed over a long life, almost 80% of Diabetics eventually die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.