If you are one of the 34 million people in the US who have type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering how you got here. You have something called insulin resistance and it is the root cause of diabetes. But for the rest of you out there, how do you know if you also may have insulin resistance? Wouldn’t it be useful to know if you have developed some insulin resistance before you are actually diagnosed with diabetes - so that maybe you can do something about it before you get full blown diabetes.
Well, it would be nice if there were a simple test that your doc could do like checking your blood counts or your cholesterol, but there just isn’t a test that is available for your doc. There are tests that are used for research but nothing has made its way to the clinic yet. But there are ways that you can figure out whether or not you may have insulin resistance.
First of all, your doctor regularly checks your blood sugar and your HbA1c test. If those are elevated you may have diabetes or pre-diabetes and you also have insulin resistance. But there are millions of people who have normal blood sugars and A1c levels right now that have developed some insulin resistance. So how else might you know if this is the case for you?
If your doc suspects that you are headed towards diabetes, he or she can order a glucose tolerance test. This involves you drinking a sugary drink and seeing how your body responds to it over about 2 hours.
There are other signs that you can check for yourself. If your waist is over 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men or if you develop skin tags, you may be insulin resistant. You can also look at some of the routine labs that your doc does and determine if you are at risk. If you have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, patches of dark colored skin, or polycystic ovarian disease, you are at risk of also being insulin resistant. If you easily retain water, you might be insulin resistant.
In several clinical studies, investigators looked at the ratio of triglycerides to HDL (good) cholesterol to see if they could predict insulin resistance with these numbers. These are both cholesterol tests that your doctor routinely measures. A ratio of >3 has been associated with insulin resistance. So you can take your triglyceride levels and divide them by your HDL cholesterol level and see if you might have insulin resistance.
That’s all well and good but what are you supposed to do if you have insulin resistance. If you don’t do anything you may be on your way to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or a heart attack. You can decrease insulin resistance by eating better, losing weight, managing your stress, and exercising. For more on how to accomplish these things, there’s more information on my website LisaSchwartzMD.com and a free nutrition guide for diabetics. So go check it out.