3 common habits causing insulin resistance

3 common habits causing insulin resistance

For anyone with diabetes or at risk of developing it, there could be certain daily habitual activities you are doing preventing insulin from doing its job. 

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas playing a major role in our metabolism – the way the body uses digested food for storage.  Each day, our digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates which are sugar and starch found in plant-based foods and milk, into glucose.  Glucose is what enters into our bloodstream but requires insulin to help the body’s cells absorb glucose using it for energy.

But, if our cells have become insulin resistant, then our blood glucose is not absorb as well and as a result, blood glucose levels climb much higher than they should increasing the likelihood of diabetes complications

Insulin resistance is when the muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin causing glucose to not be as easily absorbed from the bloodstream.  As a result, the body needs more and more insulin to help glucose enter cells. The beta cells in the pancreas make insulin. When they have to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more of it, eventually the beta cells struggle to keep up with the body’s increased need for insulin.  When there is insufficient insulin being produced by the beta cells, glucose will build up in the bloodstream increasing the chance of serious health issues associated with diabetes.

Here are 3 common habits some of us may be doing daily that could be causing insulin resistance preventing your body from responding to insulin the way it’s supposed to:

1.     Drinking coffee throughout the day

Moderate amounts of coffee can be good for us – about 2 cups a day – but when it turns into a daylong lovefest of cup after cup, that’s when things turn bitter.  Three cups or more of coffee each day can lower insulin sensitivity by about 15%.  Caffeine is to blame for this reduced sensitivity as caffeine can trigger the release of adrenaline, a hormone that disrupts the body’s use of insulin. 

The solution?  Keep your daily java intake to no more than 2 cups a day or switch to decaffeinated coffee.    


2.     Sitting most of the day

Too many of us find ourselves sitting a great of time throughout the day.  If staying in a seated position goes on longer than 2 hours or more without getting up to move around, your metabolism slows down and your blood sugar levels spike.  Choosing to rest in a seated or reclined position after eating a meal instead of taking a walk is particularly bad for blood glucose to remain elevated.

The solution? Move – it doesn’t have to be anything super vigorous but just simply get up every hour during the day and take a 5-10 minute break where you are moving around.  If at work, walk up and down the halls, go up a flight of stairs or two, or get up and at least stretch – even just standing is better than staying seated. 

At home, any movement involving cleaning the house, gardening, walking the dog, getting up and walking around the living room at every commercial break, are all good ways to use up excess glucose circulating in your bloodstream.

3.     Staying up late at night

Night owls really need to get to bed earlier.  Those late, late shows may be fun to laugh at but what is not a laughing matter is insulin resistance.  Less than five hours of sleep a night will lower your body’s sensitivity to insulin by 16% according to a 2012 study in Annals of Internal Medicine.  

When we are lacking sleep, the hunger hormones of ghrelin and leptin get out of whack.  Insufficient shut-eye causes about 15% more ghrelin to be released (an appetite stimulant) while leptin (an appetite suppressant), is reduced by about 16% being released.  This can lead to cravings for sugary foods and overeating.

The solution? Tape your favorite late night shows or take advantage of on-demand and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu so you can watch them at an earlier hour.  Keep all electronics out of the bedroom and have a nightly bedtime ritual preparing your body for a good night’s sleep.