Insulin resistance in type 1 diabetes

Insulin resistance is becoming more common in people living with type 1 diabetes.

Carrying extra weight (especially around the waist) increases the body’s resistance to insulin and can result in high blood glucose levels.

Larger doses of insulin are often required to overcome insulin resistance, which can lead to further weight gain. Adolescents and adults with type 1 diabetes are more insulin resistant when compared to people without diabetes with similar body fat, triglycerides, cholesterol, and levels of physical activity.

There are many factors which can increase insulin resistance:

  • weight gain / overweight /obesity
  • family history of type 2 diabetes
  • certain ethnic groups
  • puberty/adolescence
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • sedentary lifestyle (not enough physical activity)
  • illness/infection
  • certain medications (e.g. steroids).

If you eat a fairly consistent diet and your insulin requirements are increasing, insulin resistance may be playing a role. Insulin resistance can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 1 diabetes and high blood glucose levels over the long-term can also increase the risk of other diabetes-related complications.

The main ways to reduce insulin resistance are:

  1. Eat more fresh food and less processed food
    Aim for five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day to provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Minimise processed foods which can increase blood glucose quickly and lead to weight gain.
  2. Stay active in as many ways as possible
    Choose an activity that you enjoy to keep your body moving. Our muscles use glucose for energy during physical activity and exercise also improves insulin sensitivity.
  3. Lose excess weight (if overweight)
    Carrying extra weight around the waist leads to a build-up of fat around the liver and pancreas and increases insulin resistance. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help you lose weight and reduce insulin resistance.

We recommend to speak with your doctor or diabetes educator if your insulin doses are increasing consistently. A dietitian can help with healthy eating and an exercise physiologist can advise on a suitable exercise program to help reduce insulin resistance.

For more information, please contact us on 1300 136 588.

Keywords:type 1

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