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What is Insulin?

Insulin is an extremely important hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin regulates the breakdown of sugars, starches, fats, and proteins from the food and beverages we consume.  It controls how these sugars are used for energy and regulates other functions of the body’s cells, including growth.

What is Insulin Resistance (also called Pre-Diabetes)?

Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells oppose the effects of insulin.  The pancreas must then secrete more insulin to compensate for the higher insulin demand. Eventually, the pancreas can no longer keep up with the high insulin demand. Since the insulin level in the bloodstream begins to gradually decrease, sugar can no longer be adequately delivered to the cells for energy.  As blood sugar begins to increase to toxic levels, the blood vessels become damaged. This damage leads to high levels of inflammation which in turn damages all the body's organs. Insulin resistance is linked to fatty liver disease, heart disease, hormone disorders, infertility, kidney damage, obesity, and blindness. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is when the insulin resistance has become severe enough that the blood sugar remains extremely high.  There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. It typically occurs before the age of 40 – primarily in the teen years to early adulthood.  10% of diabetic have type 1 diabetes. These patients must take insulin injections each day for the rest of their lives. They also need to closely monitor their daily blood sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes the body’s cells are no longer able to utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas.  90% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes can be effectively treated with the right diet, regular exercise, and certain medications.

People who are overweight or obese and carry extra weight around the abdomen, those with thyroid or other hormonal problems have a high risk of developing diabetes.

Being overweight, physically inactive, and choosing the wrong foods to eat all play a huge role in developing insulin resistance.  For example, drinking just one can of soda every day will increase a person’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 22%.  Diet sodas increase the risk of developing diabetes by 33%. The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes can also increase with age.  

It is critical to be on a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet and get plenty of exercise throughout your life.

Complications of Insulin Resistance & Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious disease.  It can cause serious health concerns such as:

  • Vision loss such as blindness or severe near sightedness
  • Skin rashes and skin tags
  • Compromised immune system with poor healing and high risk of infections
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Mental disorders such as depression
  • Hearing loss
  • Gum disease
  • Nerve damage such as neuropathy and chronic pain
  • Stroke

Treatment of Diabetes

Diabetes can be remarkably improved to possibly reversed through aggressive lifestyle counseling focused on nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress management.  If you would like to learn more about how to reverse your pre-diabetes or optimize your diabetes, call our office today. We will define a personalized treatment which targets how to effectively lessen your insulin resistance and many of its associated health complications.

Sugar and the Holidays


Advanced Health Integrative Functional Medical Center
2201 Webster Street
Pacific Heights

San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415-483-7080
Fax: 415-872-1140

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