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Insulin Resistance Syndrome (IRS)

The occurrence of conditions such as diabetes and some kinds of cancers are increased significantly if a person is affected by a group of risk factors that can raise the chances or likelihood of these conditions occurring in the body-these conditions are together known as the insulin resistance syndrome (IRS)-they are considered a group of risk factors within the body. The impaired ability to process glucose within the body that can occur in some individuals occurs because of one particular risk factor known as insulin resistance, this risk factor is associated with the impairment of the hormone insulin and its inability to deal with the rise of glucose levels within the body-something that it normally controls and supervises. There are many other risk factors that accompany IRS and which are considered serious conditions when they occur in the body of an individual-these include the elevation of the blood sugar and increased or elevated blood triglycerides, other conditions such as a lowered HDL-or "good" cholesterol, and an elevation of the blood pressure can also be considered risk factors in themselves, the accumulating of excessive body fat in the abdominal region is also a major risk factor in most individuals as obesity and excess fat increase the likelihood of other diseases occurring in an individual. In general it can be said that individuals who are affected by IRS are commonly affected by a lot of these conditions even though all of the risk factors may not be apparent in an individual at the same time. Blood test and a thorough medical examination carried out by a qualified doctor are often necessary to make a proper diagnosis of the condition in the individual or persons affected with these risk factors.

While many people without any form of diabetes can also develop some sort of resistance to insulin, insulin resistance within the body tends to be always present as a symptom in all individuals who have the type 2 diabetes- or as is commonly known the insulin dependant diabetes. The problem often goes unnoticed for long periods of time because the fact that the body has developed some sort of resistance to insulin often does not cause symptoms nor are any complications immediately apparent because of the condition. Experts believe that both lifestyle factors and genetic factors are responsible for the presence of insulin resistance in people who develop this condition-thus individuals whose parents have the condition are at an increased risk of inheriting it from them.

Individuals with some form of IRS can have some benefit from using the supplements and health measures prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes, this is besides the other two recommendations discussed below. The reduction of the severity of other health risk factors such as lowering the high triglyceride level, managing the high blood pressure and reducing obesity can all be combined in a health strategy by people with IRS to gain the maximal benefits from the complications that can arise because of this disease.

High cholesterol levels and a high blood pressure often affects individuals with IRS, and such people tend to be obese and are overweight in the abdominal area, sluggishness following a meal are some other typical symptoms that can be present in all such individuals.

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There are disputed diets guidelines where people with insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) are concerned, some dieticians advise the consumption of a diet with a carbohydrate content that is lower than the levels of carbohydrates suggested in current public health guidelines, while other dieticians suggest that all individuals with IRS must avoid all high carbohydrate diets. The lowering of the carbohydrate intake is linked to the rationale, that high consumption of carbohydrate stimulates increased production of the hormone insulin-which can lead to further physiological effects such as a heightening of the triglyceride levels and a lowering of the HDL cholesterol, and these can also play a role in the development of heart disease by interfering with the fat levels in the blood stream of the individual. while the opposite view is taken by other dieticians who suggest that complications like an increased insulin resistance, likelihood of heart disease, and obesity can all result fro a lowered carbohydrate consumption as such a diet will result in a higher calorie intake from fat-thus these dieticians recommend that individuals with IRS should not be given a diet that has low carbohydrate levels. Many complications arising as a result of IRS were seen to be avoidable through a diet that treads the middle path as seen during a recent preliminary study-during which a balanced diet low in fried foods and sausages, and high in food groups like the vegetables, all kinds of fruits, freshwater and marine fishes, and rich in sources of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain rice and pasta-this diet was very healthy and seems to be the best option for individuals with IRS.

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The type of fat that is consumed, plays a big part in the effect that dietary fat will have on insulin resistance in a person with some form of IRS. The consumption of saturated fats in the diet can often aggravate the insulin resistance in the individual so suggest preliminary studies carried out on animals and humans subjects, at the same time the insulin resistance was also appreciably improved with an increased consumption of unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids from fish and other dietary sources, besides the omega-fatty acids, the role of other unsaturated fats or their likely benefits remains unknown and requires further study. These results are countered in another study which showed that both diabetics and healthy individuals had an improved sensitivity to insulin by the consumption of diets that are abundant in monounsaturated fats. Thus individuals with IRS can protect themselves against the onset of heart disease, by sticking to a diet that is low in all sources of saturated fats, and which at the same time contains abundant quantities of fish and other sources of monounsaturated fat. This is further borne out by a recent study carried out on individuals with IRS who were given a diet that was low in fat and which at the same time had abundant quantities of fish and fish products-this resulted in a lowering of resistance to insulin in all the test subjects.

Insulin sensitivity is also increased in the body through the consumption of a diet that is high in carbohydrates, and this could be because of the accompanying weight loss that often occurs when people use this type of diet on a regular basis, and correspondingly because of the fact that such diets are low in fats, especially the fats that are of the saturated form-the reasons being that such fats often aggravate the resistance to insulin in the body of individuals. Sensitivity to insulin also depends on the type of carbohydrate consumed during a high-carbohydrate diet. While studies on human subjects have shown inconclusive results, some of the research done on animals show that the consumption of diets rich in sugars like fructose or sucrose can aggravate the sensitivity to insulin. The medical term "Glycemic index" is given to the blood sugar-raising effect of consumed food, the consumption of food groups that have a low glycemic index may lead to improved insulin sensitivity in some individuals so suggest some preliminary studies on humans-these results have not been borne out by all the research that has been carried out. The connection of the consumption of dietary fiber to improved insulin sensitivity may be the result of effects that this diet has on overall glycemic index. The careful choice of carbohydrate diets according to their corresponding effect on the possibility of heart disease must be made by people with IRS and this must be done along with the form of dietary fat that is consumed during the diet. The best diet is one with a lot of refined carbohydrates, which is very high in dietary fiber at the same time.

The effect of increased dietary protein consumption in individuals with or without IRS has not been investigated thoroughly and very little research has been done on whether such a factor in the diet has any effect on the resistance to insulin among other things. While both a high protein diet and a high carbohydrates diet taken in a controlled study produced similar results as fat as insulin sensitivity was concerned, people with some symptoms caused by IRS seem to lose weight faster on the high protein diet than on the diet high in carbohydrates during the trial. A reduced risk of heart disease was also evident in all individuals who were given a diet that replaced the carbohydrates for proteins during preliminary and controlled trials along with a low-fat diet, in the individuals who were without IRS, such a diet led to an improvement in the level of the blood lipids-including cholesterol, the triglycerides, and HDL over the trial period. Since some of these results are inconclusive at best, further research is on the effects of high protein diets in people with IRS is necessary before any recommendations can be made with regard to the form of dietary regulations that such people must undergo.

In a group of individuals afflicted with some form of IRS, two controlled studies showed that a combination program that included a weight-loss diet that was low in fat and high in foods like fish, accompanied by regular and through exercise practiced thrice every week, led to significant changes in the individuals physiology, thus the insulin resistance in the individuals was lowered, there was a stabilization of the levels of blood triglycerides and cholesterol, and the blood pressure stabilized to normal levels.

Preliminary studies also suggest that the consumption of large amounts of salt leads to a lowering of the sensitivity to insulin in young and healthy individuals-this result was not evident in older individuals suffering from hypertension; thus the positive effects of a high salt intake may be limited to young people. There are some indications that the moderate restriction of salt intake leads to a lowering of the insulin sensitivity as found during a preliminary study done on healthy individuals, this same effect was not apparent and did not work in further confirmation studies carried out on groups of people, some of whom were hypersensitive and some of whom were normal physiologically. However, in individuals suffering from IRS, the effect of an increased consumption of salt or its restriction in the diet has not been investigated and needs further study to confirm or debunk other beneficial effects if any.

There is proof that the in people who have IRS, the risk factors may be reduced through the consumption of glucomannan-which is a type of water-soluble dietary fiber. People with IRS were investigated during a double-blind trial where they were administered 8-13 grams of the glucomannan every day of the trial; this resulted in a significantly improved blood cholesterol control within the body and also in a reduction of one measure of blood glucose control and its level within the body. A similar improvement in the sensitivity to insulin and an improvement in many other components of IRS, including the blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and factors like cholesterol, and triglycerides were achieved during supplementation with guar gum which is a fiber akin to glucomanan, the study was conducted on healthy individuals who were administered 30 g of the gum every day of the testing period. These results were partly negated by the fact that sensitivity to insulin did not appreciably change during another study, conducted on obese people who were given dosages of 8-16 grams per day of the guar gum for a testing period that lasted 6-12 weeks-thus these results may not necessarily reflect the actual ability of the guar gum.

Other double blind studies conducted on groups of healthy individuals and others with hypersensitivity that used the vitamin E, 800-1,350 IU per day, showed an increase in the sensitivity to insulin in all test subjects. People with IRS still have to be studied for beneficial effects, if any, that such supplementation can have in controlled scientific experiments before these results are confirmed.

People suffering from hypertension were observed to show an improved sensitivity to insulin during a double blind trial found that utilized 1,500 mg per day of calcium per test subject. However, these results also have not been substantiated as further research on the effects of calcium supplementation in people with IRS is still to be conducted.

Factors such as a deficiency of the essential mineral magnesium in the body can lead to a reduction of the sensitivity to insulin, this is further borne out by the fact that in people who are not diabetics and who are otherwise healthy, a greater resistance to insulin was present where there was a low dietary intake of magnesium and corresponding low blood levels of magnesium. This also needs further confirmation studies as far as people with IRS are concerned, as the connection between magnesium supplementation and the risk factors of IRS affected individuals is unknown.

Individuals affected with all forms of insulin related disorders are also known to be helped by supplements of the essential trace mineral chromium. This is further borne out by the fact that all the known mechanisms of chromium within the body indicates that the mineral plays an active role in the promotion of a sensitivity to insulin-however, the effect of chromium supplementation has not be specifically studied in people with IRS and the future research has to approve or disprove this theory. Furthermore, the chances of a chromium deficiency is also increased by the loss of chromium from the body, which in turn can probably be caused by a resistance to insulin within the body-this results were suggested during a preliminary investigation and still has to be confirmed by thorough and future study.

In people who are overweight the preliminary evidence from initial studies reports that a low intake of the essential mineral zinc is associated with the rise of several risk factors that commonly occur during incidence of IRS and furthermore the presence of low levels of zinc in the blood also leads to increased insulin resistance in such individuals. The supplementation of zinc and its effects, and the specific property of zinc in this regard have not been investigated to any degree in individuals with IRS-future studies have to confirm the beneficial effects if any exist regarding the mineral zinc.

Individuals with a high blood pressure and those suffering from some form of a heart condition also benefited during a double-blind trial though the use of the coenzyme Q10, at a dosage level of 120 mg per day, this led to the reduction of glucose and the levels of insulin in the blood of such people. While further research is necessary in order to confirm these findings, the preliminary results suggest that the use of the coenzyme Q10 may improve insulin sensitivity in people with components of IRS and other risk factors related to insulin resistance.

Additional things you may do

The severity of resistance to insulin increases because of obesity; this is particularly so in men, where the accumulation of excess body fat tends to be in the abdominal area and the regions around it, this form of increased resistance to insulin because of obesity can also increase the risk factors for IRS in all overweight or obese individuals. The sensitivity to insulin shows a marked increase when an individual loses any excess weight thus it reduces insulin resistance within the body, people afflicted with IRS also respond to weight loss in a similar manner. There are a number of other health risk factors that accompany IRS in any individual, and the chances of these developing in the body of the individual are reduced appreciably because of loss of weight.

Insulin resistance in the body has also been associated in some studies with the habit of smoking cigarettes, however, these results are not borne out in all corresponding studies, thus is also true of individuals who are exposed to secondhand smoke and who make use of nicotine replacement products as far as it has been studied. At the same time the effects of quitting the smoking habit on individuals with IRS has not been studied, it is known that where the average individual is concerned the cessation of smoking leads to an increased sensitivity to insulin in healthy people.

There is also some indication that the moderate or light consumption of products and beverages containing alcohol enhances sensitivity and leads to a better insulin management in non-diabetic people who are healthy. Therefore, the benefits to be gained for patients already having IRS from the quitting of alcohol remain slight, especially if they are already moderate drinkers, some evidence suggest that moderate alcohol consumption greatly reduces other risk factors for heart disease and so as far as drinks are concerned they are more beneficial than negative in dealing with IRS. This is not to say that the consumption of alcohol is to be promoted, this habit is very addictive and is a major risk factor for other serious conditions and therefore the use of alcohol as far as patient with IRS are concerned must be done after consulting a doctor on all aspects of the issue.

The use of aerobic and other physical exercises is beneficial in a lot of ways and in healthy individuals as well as in insulin resistant individuals the use of strength training and aerobics seem to improve insulin sensitivity. This positive result has not been borne out in a recent controlled trial that found the fact that aerobic exercises alone do not seem to affect the insulin resistance in people already with IRS and they did not show an improved sensitivity to insulin in any manner during or after partaking in regular aerobics programs. In addition to the above results some researches that compared the potential benefits of strength training to using aerobic exercises by insulin resistant people, it was seen that strength training gave greater benefits; this need not be strictly followed as a combination of the two forms of physical exercises will give the best results possible. Also, many of the other risk factors that accompany IRS in an individual tend to be greatly benefited through the use of any form of exercises.

Stress is another major factor in decreasing the body's sensitivity to insulin, in general stressful experiences cause a decrease in the sensitivity to insulin, and sensitivity to insulin is also increased following major stressful evens such as surgery, and events like emotional stress and mental stress related to work accompany a decreased sensitivity to insulin in an individual, insulin sensitivity is increases by all other aspects of an individual's lifestyle that might bring about stressful situations or events in the life of the person. The validity of these results need to be corroborated by investigations that probe the effect of stress in individuals with IRS, and to date no scientific study has tested the association between stress in individuals with IRS. The benefits of reducing stress while treating IRS must still be tested in a controlled setting.

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