Treating Insulin Resistance: Metformin vs. Movement


Insulin Resistance Is A Complex Problem


When one thinks about insulin resistance, their thoughts probably drift to carbohydrates being a culprit in the complex problem that insulin resistance is.  However, body fat, particularly fat within the muscle, liver, and pancreas deserves some attention as well.

A recently published study in Diabetes Care even found a relationship between insulin resistance and subcutaneous fat cell size, where a reduction in fat cell size improved insulin sensitivity.

Because of the relationship between body fat and insulin resistance, it’s not unusual to hear weight loss being prescribed as the solution for insulin resistance.  However when the directive is “just lose weight,” how helpful is that advice?

Metformin (Glucophage) Pros and Cons

“Insulin resistance occurs when one’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. As a result, glucose (blood sugar) has a harder time getting into cells, thus leaving blood sugar elevated.

To overcome this, the pancreas produces more insulin, which eventually brings blood sugar down. However, this becomes very taxing on the pancreas and may increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.”

Weight loss is challenging, especially in the presence of insulin resistance. So it’s understandable when other methods of treatment are pursued, particularly use of the medication Metformin.

Metformin, also known as Glucophage, is often prescribed for insulin resistance because it has the potential to reduce blood glucose levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, and in some cases help with weight management.

Read This Related Article:
Carbohydrates and Insulin Resistance: Finding a Happy Medium

While Metformin may seem to offer a host of benefits to those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, it’s also important to know that long-term use may lower levels of Vitamin B12 and folate, and it can sometimes cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Find the Nearest Pool! Swimming May Improve Insulin Sensitivity

So, what options does a person have if they struggle with insulin resistance and find it difficult to lose body fat, but don’t want to start a medication?  I suggest swimming.

I’ve noticed at Green Mountain at Fox Run that swimming seems to cause a dramatic change in blood sugar levels for our participants with diabetes.  I suspect that part of this is due to the fact that the activity reduces insulin resistance.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found this to be the case in lab animals with insulin resistance.  Those that were made to swim had improved insulin sensitivity compared to the inactive animals.

For those of you who test your blood sugar, do you find swimming brings it down significantly?  

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