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What Is the Connection between Insulin Sensitivity and Diabetes?

By Helena Reimer
Updated May 17, 2024
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The connection between insulin sensitivity and diabetes is that a high insulin sensitivity can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is a condition wherein excess amounts of glucose build up within the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert glucose into energy. Unlike insulin resistance, which hinders the absorption process, a high insulin sensitivity increases the chances of the insulin being used to absorb glucose within the body. Both a moderate amount of exercise and a healthy diet are beneficial for insulin sensitivity and diabetes.

A low insulin sensitivity puts an individual at risk for developing insulin resistance. When this occurs, the muscle tissues, fat cells, and in some cases the liver are unable to utilize the insulin for the absorption of glucose. As a result, both the insulin and glucose begin to build up within the bloodstream. This condition is harmful to the blood vessels and also increases the risk of pre-diabetes. Therefore, insulin sensitivity and diabetes are directly connected because one is required in order to prevent the other.

An insulin resistance causes the pancreas to produce excess amounts of insulin in order to compensate for the insulin that the body is unable to use. At first, this seems to work, but eventually, the pancreas begins to slow down and even stop its production of the vital hormone. This commonly results in type 2 diabetes and requires regular injections of insulin. The level of insulin sensitivity determines how much insulin is needed in order for the body have enough for glucose regulation.

A healthy diet and regular exercise both have direct effects on insulin sensitivity and diabetes as they can both increase the sensitivity level. Exercise helps to improve metabolism and burns stored sugar from the muscle tissues, which then makes room for the muscle tissues to absorb more glucose from the bloodstream. Plenty of fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, are excellent foods that will not spike the blood glucose and are safe to consume in moderate amounts.

Carbohydrates and simple sugars, on the other hand, have negative effects on insulin sensitivity and diabetes because they can potentially raise glucose levels to extreme highs after meals. So, it is important to consume those foods in small amounts only. Excess amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco are toxic to the body and can also decrease the level of insulin sensitivity. Other lifestyle factors that have negative effects on insulin sensitivity and diabetes include stress, being overweight, and certain medications, such as corticosteroids and glucosamine.

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