What is Pre-Diabetes or Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas to help control your blood sugar levels. Insulin allows sugar to get from your bloodstream into your cells. Then your cells can use it for fuel or store it for later use (as fat). If you have pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, the cells of your body aren’t paying attention to insulin very well. So you are unable to access the sugar floating around in your bloodstream for energy. This means that higher than normal amounts of insulin need to be produced to get that sugar out of your blood and into your cells. High insulin contributes to inflammation, weight gain, hormone imbalance, increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, if untreated, ultimately leads to diabetes.
What Causes Pre-Diabetes or Insulin Resistance?
The following factors have been shown to cause or contribute to pre-diabetes:
- lack of exercise/physical activity
- sleep apnea
- poor diet
- being overweight
- certain medications such as steroids and antidepressants
- some medical conditions such as Cushing’s and PCOS
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies
What are the signs and symptoms of Pre-Diabetes?
You may be unaware that you have insulin resistance issues. Some of the signs and symptoms are similar to those of diabetes. Others are evidence of higher than normal amounts of insulin. Symptoms of pre-diabetes may include:
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain
- Hormone imbalances (excess estrogen or testosterone)
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
- Elevated cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Elevated HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- Gestational diabetes
- Acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin on the neck, underarms, elbows, knees, knuckles)
What is the Natural Treatment for Pre-Diabetes or Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance can often be helped by addressing a few areas such as:
- Exercise – Lack of exercise is a risk factor for insulin resistance. We know that exercise is good for overall health and stress reduction.
- Diet – A diet rich in whole foods, good protein, and healthy fats with little or no refined sugar, is important to reduce your risk factors for developing insulin resistance.
- Stress Reduction – Stress spikes your cortisol, blood sugar, and insulin. Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, psychotherapy, and massage therapy can help.
- Naturopathic Medicine – Our naturopathic doctors will work with you to help you manage your symptoms, prevent diabetes and get to the source of your insulin resistance through your own individualized treatment plan that may include:
- Diet modifications – Increase your fiber and vegetable intake, add some extra cinnamon, have moderate amounts of protein, decrease starches and sugars, and increase omega 3 fatty acids.
- Vitamins, minerals, enzymes – Some minerals are particularly helpful for regulating blood sugar such as chromium, vanadium, and zinc.
- Botanicals – Herbs such as Banaba leaf, Gymnema, Momordica, and cinnamon help with blood sugar and insulin.
- Stress reduction
By Dr. Pamela Frank, Naturopathic Doctor, updated Jan. 6, 2020
Blood Tests for Pre-Diabetes:
HbA1c, 2-hour pc glucose and insulin, fasting blood sugar, fasting cholesterol, triglycerides, Glucose Tolerance Test WITH insulin measurements or a GTIR Test
Natural Treatment for Pre-Diabetes: Research
Our naturopathic doctors can put together a customized treatment plan to help you regulate blood sugar, lower insulin, prevent diabetes and reduce symptoms of insulin resistance. Below are just a few studies related to naturopathic treatment for insulin resistance, we have many other natural treatment options.
Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids was found to improve markers of insulin resistance. Source: European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, 2011.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a steroid hormone in the human body, was found to improve insulin resistance and inflammatory markers in the elderly. Source: Aging (Albany NY). 2011 May; 3(5): 533–542. [Elevated levels of DHEAs can be a sign of insulin resistance in PCOS]
Smaller and denser LDL particles are commonly found in metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) patients. Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.27, Issue 3, Feb 2013.