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Klinika Mediss Medical Blog Insulin Resistance – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Artykuł: Insulin Resistance – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Insulin Resistance – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

09 Jun 2024

Insulin Resistance – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Insulin resistance is an increasingly diagnosed metabolic disorder that significantly impacts the health and well-being of many individuals. This condition is characterized by a decreased sensitivity of cells to insulin, leading to disturbances in glucose metabolism. Over time, insulin resistance can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods for insulin resistance.

Causes of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can result from many factors that often occur simultaneously. The most important ones include:

  1. Genetics: Genetic predispositions play a significant role in the development of insulin resistance. Individuals whose parents or siblings suffer from insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or other metabolic disorders are more prone to developing this condition.
  2. Obesity: Excess adipose tissue, especially visceral fat, which is fat located around internal organs, is one of the main risk factors for insulin resistance. Visceral fat secretes inflammatory substances that can interfere with insulin function.
  3. Improper Diet: A diet high in processed foods, simple sugars, and saturated fats contributes to the development of insulin resistance. Consuming excessive amounts of calories, especially from highly processed products, leads to obesity and metabolic disturbances.
  4. Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of regular physical activity are factors that favor insulin resistance. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and supports a healthy metabolism.
  5. Hormonal Disorders: Certain hormonal conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can lead to insulin resistance. PCOS is associated with excessive secretion of androgens and insulin, leading to decreased cellular sensitivity to insulin.
  6. Stress: Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which can interfere with insulin function. Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance often develops asymptomatically, making diagnosis delayed. However, there are certain symptoms and signs that may suggest the presence of this condition:

  1. Increased Appetite: Individuals with insulin resistance may experience sudden hunger pangs, especially for sweet foods. High insulin levels in the blood lead to a rapid drop in glucose levels, triggering hunger.
  2. Weight Gain: Insulin resistance is often associated with difficulty controlling body weight. Excess insulin promotes fat storage, particularly in the abdominal area.
  3. Fatigue: People with insulin resistance often feel chronic fatigue, even after adequate sleep. Glucose metabolism disturbances can lead to a lack of energy.
  4. Difficulty Concentrating: Insulin resistance can affect cognitive functions, leading to problems with concentration and memory.
  5. Dark Skin Patches: Often, dark patches of skin, known as acanthosis nigricans, may appear on the neck, armpits, or groin. This is a symptom of insulin resistance related to excessive insulin secretion.
  6. Irregular Menstrual Cycles: In women, insulin resistance can lead to hormonal imbalances, resulting in irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea.

Diagnosis of Insulin Resistance

Diagnosing insulin resistance typically involves clinical assessment, laboratory tests, and specialized examinations. The most commonly used diagnostic methods include:

  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This test involves administering a glucose solution to the patient and measuring blood glucose levels at specified intervals. The results can indicate disturbances in glucose metabolism.
  2. Fasting Insulin Level Measurement: High fasting insulin levels in the blood can suggest insulin resistance.
  3. HOMA-IR Index: This index is calculated based on fasting glucose and insulin levels. Higher HOMA-IR values indicate insulin resistance.
  4. Biochemical Tests: Tests such as a lipid profile and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels can help assess the metabolic state of the patient.

Treatment of Insulin Resistance

Treating insulin resistance requires a comprehensive approach, including lifestyle changes, diet, physical activity, and, in some cases, pharmacotherapy.

  1. Lifestyle Changes:
    • Diet: A healthy and balanced diet is a key element in treating insulin resistance. It is recommended to consume foods with a low glycemic index, rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It is important to avoid processed foods, simple sugars, and trans fats. Regular meals at consistent times can help stabilize blood glucose levels.
    • Physical Activity: Regular physical activity is crucial in treating insulin resistance. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling, help improve insulin sensitivity. Strength training also has a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism.
    • Stress Reduction: Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can help lower cortisol levels and improve overall well-being.
  2. Pharmacotherapy:
    • Metformin: This is the most commonly used drug in the treatment of insulin resistance. Metformin works by reducing glucose production in the liver and increasing tissue sensitivity to insulin. This drug is particularly effective in overweight or obese individuals.
    • SGLT-2 Inhibitors: These drugs work by increasing glucose excretion through the urine. They can be used as an adjunct to metformin therapy.
    • DPP-4 Inhibitors: These drugs increase the levels of incretin hormones, which help regulate blood glucose levels. They are often used in combination therapy.
  3. Health Monitoring:
    • Regular Check-Ups: Individuals with insulin resistance should regularly monitor blood glucose levels, lipid profiles, and other metabolic markers. Regular doctor visits help monitor treatment effectiveness and adjust therapy if necessary.
    • Collaboration with a Dietitian: Working with a qualified dietitian can help develop a personalized nutritional plan tailored to the individual’s needs and preferences.

Prevention of Insulin Resistance

Preventing insulin resistance is crucial for avoiding the development of this condition. Here are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of insulin resistance:

  1. Healthy Diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy body weight and metabolism.
  2. Regular Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, control body weight, and improve overall health.
  3. Avoiding Processed Foods: Limiting the intake of processed foods, simple sugars, and trans fats is important for metabolic health.
  4. Stress Management: Relaxation practices such as meditation, yoga, or breathing techniques can help reduce stress levels and improve well-being.
  5. Regular Check-Ups: Regular health check-ups allow for early detection of potential metabolic disturbances and the implementation of appropriate measures.


Insulin resistance is a serious health problem that can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and stress reduction, are crucial in preventing and treating insulin resistance. In some cases, pharmacotherapy is necessary. Regular health monitoring and collaboration with healthcare professionals, including dietitians, are essential for effectively managing insulin resistance. With appropriate actions, it is possible to improve the quality of life and prevent serious health complications associated with this condition.