When your physician runs routine blood work it will typically include glucose(sugar) level measurement. Far to often the glucose levels are determined to be “within the normal range” (typically under 100), which would suggest no concern. However, if your doctor does not measure insulin levels, and most do not, there may a completely different story.
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas gland. It’s primary role is to transport glucose within the blood to the cells of our body where the glucose is converted as fuel to help run our bodily activities. Think of insulin as a pick-up truck that hauls it’s load of glucose, activates the garage door opener and places the glucose in the garage, or in the human body’s case, the cells. Often times the garage door opener does not work and this condition is referred to as insulin resistance. This malfunction of insulin resistance occurs for several reasons including poor dietary habits, lack of physical activity and prolonged stress just to name a few.
Now the really interesting story continues with how the body deals with insulin resistance. High blood sugar is very destructive to several organs and tissues of the body. To avoid this damaging effect, the body has a back-up safety system that converts this excess sugar to something safer called glycogen. Another name for glycogen is storage fat. Can you guess where this fat is predominantly stored? If you guessed the belly or mid-section you would be correct. So the first visible sign that you likely have insulin resistance is what was commonly referred to as a beer belly in for men, or unexplained mid-section weight gain for women.
It gets even more interesting! Insulin resistance is the early stage of type 2 diabetes.
This is why every patient who has blood work should have insulin tested. Prior to the glucose levels presenting elevated on routine lab testing, the insulin is elevated. This is when the physician should intervene and discuss the importance of specific lifestyle recommendations.
It is all to common that conventional medicine practitioners watch the glucose levels gradually increase over the years without ever testing insulin or intervening with diet and lifestyle recommendations until the blood sugar reach the levels to require medications.
It is important to know that the only hope of reversing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance is implementing lifestyle changes. This is the functional medicine approach. Prevention and functional laboratory assessments could prevent the need for a lifetime of prescription medications for diabetes and the unwanted side effects.
Discover personalized lifestyle healthcare through the functional medicine approach at Total Body Wellness Life Enhancement Center.