Get the Low Down on Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes, and Insulin Resistance
As we welcome the New Year, many of us are planning our resolutions; our best intentions for creating a more fulfilling lifestyle for ourselves. And at the top of that list, health care generally prevails. Today I’d like to discuss a couple of topics that go hand-in-hand: insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and diabetes. I’d like to differentiate between the above topics and discuss how they are interrelated.
Let’s start with Insulin resistance; a concept that may sound vaguely familiar to most people but often presents as a foggy concept at best.
What is insulin resistance?
Let’s first define what insulin really is. Insulin is a hormone manufactured by the pancreas and whose purpose is to help the body use glucose (sugar) as an energy source. Insulin resistance presents when the body is able to make insulin, but does not know how to utilize it properly.
How does this process break down? Well, after food is digested and broken down into various components such as fat, protein and glucose, it is delivered to the cells of the body through the bloodstream. As our blood glucose levels rise, it is the pancreases’ job to release insulin, which in turn will remove the glucose from the blood so that it may be utilized as an energy source.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells cannot accept insulin at the necessary levels. The pancreas then struggles to produce insulin in greater and greater amounts in an attempt keep up with the cellular demand. The overworked pancreas cannot maintain these production levels forever, and as a result of its failure, glucose eventually builds up in the blood. Unless the imbalance is corrected, pre-diabetes and then diabetes type 2 become a risk factor.
What causes insulin resistance?
In general, people who carry excess weight, specifically around the waistline, and are less physically active, become predisposed to the disorder. Also, there have been specific genes identified by the scientific community that also may be a contributing factor.
How Does Insulin Resistance Different From Pre-Diabetes?
Insulin resistance generally sets the stage for pre-diabetes, and thus diabetes type 2, in that it is generally the cause of both. Insulin resistance is a metabolic disorder that causes an increase in blood glucose levels. Pre-diabetes is characterized by moderately high glucose levels in people who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for type 2 diabetes. It is diagnosed through an IFG test (impaired fasting glucose) or the IGT test (impaired glucose tolerance).
Without correcting the condition by moderating food intake and increasing physical activity, it is likely that people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.
Now Let’s Talk About Diabetes
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes, the problem lies in the actual production of insulin. The pancreas basically produces little to no insulin, allowing blood glucose levels to skyrocket, and thus forcing the person suffering from this disease to supplement insulin daily with an external source.
The cause of this type of diabetes is not entirely understood. However, we do know that it is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s own immune function launches an attack on the pancreas. The cells that normally produce insulin become the target, and their ability to manufacture an appropriate amount of insulin is damaged. Type 1 diabetes is also believed to be genetic, and a viral attack as an initiative causative factor is also a possibility.
Symptoms: think about extreme thirst combined with lots of urination plus hunger, yet continued weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
As we discussed above, insulin resistance sets the stage for type 2 diabetes. The pancreas is producing enough insulin, but the body is not utilizing it correctly. When the pancreas tires of producing too much unused insulin, it starts to decrease production and, as a result, glucose builds in the blood at high levels.
Symptoms: basically the same as for type 1 plus slow healing of wounds or sores.
Chinese Medical Treatment
Despite the prevalence of blood glucose imbalance disorders in the United States and major medical advances in the field, these conditions are still not well treated and maintained by conventional methods. In light of the serious side effects caused by diabetes, such as cardiovascular problems, degenerative eye disease, peripheral neuropathy and kidney failure, taking a look at an integrative approach to the problem bears interest in order to help patients manage their disease properly.
Chinese medicine offers an integrative approach including acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and nutrition, exercise, stress management and life style changes. Acupuncture is clinically proven to balance blood sugar levels and Chinese herbal medicine offers many proven herbs and formulas that positively impact diabetic conditions and the side effects. Together, acupuncture and herbal medicine can regulate blood glucose levels, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, reduce mucus and plaque build up within arteries, and maintain kidney function. And the best part is, there is no need for drug therapy, making Chinese Medicine a healthier choice overall with reduced risk for negative side effects.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes type 1 or 2, please consider alternative therapies such as Chinese Medicine for treatment. At Pure Acupuncture Therapy, we invite you to call or stop by the office for a free consultation with Joanne Douglass, Licensed Acupuncturist, to discuss your needs anytime. You may also forward this article to someone who could use it, and perhaps help them manage their disorder with a greater level of ease and comfort…naturally and effectively.
Joanne Trujillo LAc MSOM