New research reveals that those with inflammation in the lungs are at higher risk for insulin resistance and diabetes. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin cannot absorb or manage glucose effectively. Even though the pancreas continues to produce insulin, it is not being used properly, which causes blood sugar levels to spike.
Diabetes is categorized by insulin resistance, so diabetics must continuously monitor their blood sugar levels in order to prevent spikes or drops. There are many factors contributing to diabetes and insulin resistance, such as being overweight, lack of activity and poor diet. But new research now shows inflammatory lung disease, too, can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes and insulin resistance.
Lung disease increases risk of diabetes and insulin resistance
The new findings were published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. It reveals that inflammation of the lungs – as seen in conditions like asthma and pneumonia – induces body-wide inflammation, which can contribute to insulin resistance.
It is common to see higher glucose levels in those with an inflammation lung disease. Those individuals tend to be overweight or on a steroid treatment for lung disease – two known risk factors of diabetes.
Researchers observed mice with airway flow inflammation and noticed that additional inflammation formed within the liver and other organs. Researchers also observed that the mice were less effective at controlling blood sugar and showed other signs of insulin resistance (glucose production in the liver was not suppressed, insulin action was impaired in other organs).
The researchers concluded inflammation of the lungs is in fact a risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. In order to reduce one’s risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, it is important to combat lung inflammation and body-wide inflammation.
The study comes from researchers at Vanderbilt University.
Role of insulin resistance in diabetes
Insulin resistance is commonly found in those with prediabetes, but studies have shown that diabetes can develop within 10 years in those with prediabetes. Insulin resistance alone is not the cause of diabetes, it simply makes the body work harder to produce insulin as a means to negate the inability to use the insulin which is present.
As prediabetes and insulin resistance worsen, cells continue not to function effectively, which is what causes the onset on type 2 diabetes. Diabetics have chronically high blood sugar – when unmanaged – which can lead to nerve and blood vessel damage. This is why there are numerous complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular problem, nerve problems and even vision loss.
Diabetes can be avoided and is not inevitable just because a person has prediabetes. If a person is in the prediabetes stage, they can easily begin to change their lifestyle habits in order to better improve their health. It is suggested that five to seven percent of body weight be lost if you want to improve your condition. If you’re over 200 pounds, 10 to 14 percent of body weight needs to be lost. An increase in physical activity as well as proper eating can easily help you achieve your goals. If losing weight is a challenge, speak with your doctor for guidance and support.
Risk factors of insulin resistance
So what exactly puts one person at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance than someone else? Well, the following are risk factors which can make you prone to insulin resistance.
- Being overweight or having a high body mass index (BMI)
- Men with a waist circumference over 40 inches, woman with a waist circumference larger than 35 inches
- Being over the age of 40
- Having blood relatives with type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure
- Having a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other metabolic syndromes
- Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Diet for reducing insulin resistance
Many of the factors related to an increased risk of insulin resistance have to do with weight and lifestyle habits. Therefore, an easy way to lower your risk and prevent insulin resistance is to start with your diet. If you want to begin a diet to help you reduce insulin resistance, start with these foods:
- Vegetables: low in calories, low-sodium, filling, contain essential nutrients
- Fruits: contains fiber, vitamins and minerals
- Dairy: promotes strong teeth and bones, stick with low-fat options
- Whole grains: won’t cause sugar spikes or crashes, contains essential nutrients
- Nuts: contains healthy fats and fiber, low in carbohydrates, contains essential fatty acids, may contain high calories so limit consumption
- Beans: good source of fiber, raises blood sugar slowly
- Fish: contains omega-3 fatty acids, protects your heart
- Lean meats: skip the skin for optimal benefits
Now that you know what foods to eat, you need to know when to eat them. It’s also important to note that you should not be skipping meals as that can worsen insulin resistance.
- Enjoy protein for breakfast, such as eggs or nut butter.
- Eat small meals every four hours to regulate sugar levels.
- Stop eating two to three hours prior to bed.
- Try and control the glycemic load in all your meals.
- Ensure your meals are balanced – proper protein, fat and vegetable ratios.
- Don’t eat quickly and avoid eating carbohydrates on their own.
- Eat a variety of foods to get different nutrients and prevent boredom.
Protecting your lungs from inflammation
Now that we have a better understanding of how lung inflammation can play a role in insulin resistance and diabetes, it is important to learn how to prevent lung inflammation in the first place. Here are some tips to better prevent lung inflammation and lower your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- 1. Don’t smoke.
- 2. Avoid being exposed to pollution.
- 3. Prevent infection – wash your hands, get vaccinated and stay home if sick.
- 4. Avoid heading outdoors during smog advisories or high allergen days.
Preventing insulin resistance and diabetes just takes simple lifestyle changes; they are not inevitable parts of aging. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it is not a life-sentence, there are still many changes you can make to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.