Insulin resistance-also called the metabolic syndrome- is much more common than you might think. It can affect women and men but the numbers are much higher among perimenopausal women. Anyone can become insulin resistant even if they are thin. The most common complaints are fatigue, weight gain and sugar cravings.
As women approach menopause, they become increasingly intolerant of carbohydrates and find it easier to gain weight, especially around the waist. The availability of refined and processed foods in our society is a huge contributor. Insulin resistance makes fat loss difficult as high insulin levels actually inhibit the metabolic pathway that allows fat to be burned. Individuals with insulin resistance are not burning their food properly, which makes them feel tired and makes weight loss extremely challenging.
Women who are insulin resistant are at much greater risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, breast cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). There is some evidence that insulin resistance may contribute to endometrial cancer and it has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin is a “major” hormone and it is impossible for your body to balance its “minor” hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone among them) until your insulin metabolism is balanced first.
If you suffer from high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and/or hypertension (high blood pressure), you should get checked for insulin resistance, regardless of your weight or age. If you have high blood pressure, it is high possible that you are also suffering from insulin resistance.
You don’t have to accept that weight gain and fatigue are just “part of getting older”. A therapeutic nutrition based approach to insulin resistance is focused on weight loss and dietary modification. It’s never one size fits all but generally eating in a way that balances your blood sugar and reduces inflammation in the body is key to not only feeling better every day but preventing and reversing this potentially devastating condition.
Kimberly Young, M.S. is a practicing Nutritionist in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative and functional approach to diet and nutrition at kyoungnutrition.com