I haven’t focused on insulin resistance nearly enough here and on my other educational platforms. (I do focus on it all the time in my 1:1 work). It’s time for this to change! Roughly 1 in 2 adults in the United States have insulin resistance, so it’s incredibly common. You have a 1 in 2 chance of becoming insulin resistant in your adult life. Think of insulin resistance as a spectrum of sugar-insulin dysregulation. This includes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, and most women with PCOS.
Assessing insulin resistance
When a woman works with me for hormone balance, we assess all of her hormones, because they are all interconnected. We always include insulin, as it’s the hormone that regulates blood sugar, metabolism, and energy storage. Insulin and blood sugar balance affect period pain, PMS symptoms, hot flashes, anxiety, sleep, ovulation, and just about every aspect of sex hormone function. The basic labs to start with include hemoglobin A1C, fasting insulin and glucose, and a lipid panel. We should all know where we fall on these basic blood labs.
I consider it my medical responsibility to assess and address sugar-insulin balance with all my patients, especially because chances are, it’s not sufficiently addressed in their conventional care. There are gaps in conventional care when it comes to prevention and education, and in identifying conditions long before they are full-blown. If insulin resistance turns into full-blown diabetes with damage to your pancreas, it can be irreversible. But in the long years and decades leading up to it, type 2 diabetes (1 in 10 of us) and all the conditions that go with it are 100% reversible.
Learning about insulin resistance
It’s important for all women to learn what insulin resistance is, how it affects your hormones and general health, how to assess if and where you fall on the spectrum of insulin resistance, and what to do about it. We got to this place (insulin resistance epidemic), ignorantly and blissfully, because of our lifestyles. Not on purpose. It’s nobody’s fault that insulin resistance develops. But overcoming it is 100% in your reach, it’s a matter of accessing the how-to and putting it into play.
It is a hard thing to do by yourself, from reading a paper or a book. It’s easier to make lifestyle changes with other people, within a social structure, a community. It’s a great project to do this work for your own health and for the effect it will have on your loved ones and the little ones you may be raising. The work does take time and effort, but it can also be simple, fun, and fascinating.
Healing sugar-insulin dysregulation
This is a priority in my Functional Hormone Balance program. We start off by learning to regulate insulin right away. I’m doing this differently than I ever have before, since as of 2021 I’m all about ditching diets and diet culture, and teaching intuitive eating instead. Can you heal insulin resistance without dieting? The answer is yes, you can. You can eat your favorite foods and heal insulin resistance at the same time. You can do this by tuning into your own body to assess and feel what she needs, while applying gentle nutrition guidelines.
You don’t need to suffer, be rigid, or go on a diet to heal insulin resistance. In fact, science shows that diets don’t work, and they increase risks for disordered eating and a generally messed-up metabolism. We are meant to enjoy eating and take pleasure in food! Healing insulin resistance doesn’t equal losing weight either. You can have sugar insulin dysregulation at any size, and you can heal it at any size.
Does this apply to you?
Balancing blood sugar and insulin applies to all women, and especially in these three situations:
- PCOS – the majority of women with PCOS have a sugar-insulin imbalance, including thin women.
- Perimenopause – this is often the time of life when insulin resistance starts showing up, with telltale signs of new abdominal weight gain that doesn’t feel right, elevated lab markers, and perimenopause hormone symptoms.
- PMS – sugar-insulin dysregulation can wreak havoc on hormone balance before your period.
- Inflammation – sugar insulin dysregulation is inflammatory and it makes it hard to reduce inflammation without addressing this.
- Mood swings & anxiety – When blood sugar is unstable, it’s harder to be emotionally regulated.
- Post-menopausal – Your risks for insulin resistance go up when you are postmenopausal, as your natural estrogen offered some protection before.
- Pregnancy – Often insulin resistance shows up for the first time during pregnancy when it’s normal for glucose to go higher.
Stay tuned for more about reversing insulin resistance. You can also visit my social media (Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook) as I share different information and tips there.
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