Nutritional Support for Insulin Resistance

Self-Directed CPD

Number 100. For professional use only

ABSTRACT: The binding of insulin to its receptor in the cell membrane is the first step of a metabolic cascade leading to cellular glucose uptake. The term ‘insulin resistance’ refers to a reduced sensitivity of the cell to the action of insulin. When reduced insulin sensitivity exists, the body attempts to overcome the resistance by secreting increasing amounts of insulin. The development of type 2, or non-insulin dependent, diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to adequately sustain this increased insulin secretion (hyperinsulinemia). Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are not only significant risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, but hypertension, coronary heart disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome as well. Additionally, evidence suggests that breast and colon cancer may be causally related. While genetics may establish propensity, dietary and lifestyle factors are important determinants in the phenotypic expression of this multifactorial disorder that affects at least 25% of the U.S. population. A comprehensive clinical management strategy that incorporates lifestyle and dietary modifications along with nutritional supplement recommendations is essential.

Over 60 years ago Dr. H.P. Himsworth conducted a series of elegant experiments and put forth the then heretical notion that diabetes was not a disease that resulted from a lack of insulin, but rather appeared in the presence of near normal levels of insulin. The defect, or ‘essential lesion,’ as he saw it, was the diminished ability of the tissues to utilize glucose. He at that time used the term “insulin insensitivity” to describe this observation.1 It took another 40 years until a consensus was reached on this radical notion. It is now clear that the vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes show an insulin insensitivity in which they cannot adequately dispose of glucose; and further, that this defect in fact predicts the development of the disease.2,3

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