Insulin resistance is one of the most prevalent issues I see in practice and a major driver in several common health concerns. Many of my patients are struggling with symptoms of insulin resistance without knowing it because it’s so rarely tested in traditional blood work. These patients are frustrated when all their lab work comes back as normal despite knowing something doesn’t feel right!
Insulin is a storage hormone that plays a pivotal role in blood sugar control and regulation. It helps move sugar from the bloodstream into cells. Chronically high insulin levels frequently referred to as insulin resistance can lead to a wide range of concerns and can exist despite perfectly healthy and normal blood sugar levels.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms below and your blood work doesn’t match with how you feel, I would strongly recommend testing your insulin levels for more answers.
Long or Missing Menstrual Cycles
High insulin levels can impact ovulation and lead to either long or completely missing menstrual cycles. Insulin resistance plays a key role in approximately 70% of all women who have PCOS, a hormonal and metabolic condition that impacts 1 in 8 women in North America!
Thankfully, by restoring elevated insulin through diet and lifestyle changes women can restore ovulation and regular cycling. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or have long or irregular cycles with no known cause, get your insulin levels checked. You can read more about the connection between insulin and PCOS in my article on the topic here.
Weight Loss Resistance
For patients who are eating well and getting lots of exercise but still can’t lose a pound, insulin could be playing a role. Elevated insulin is a very common cause of weight loss resistance.
Insulin is a storage hormone, meaning whenever it is secreted in high amounts the body is focused more on storing energy rather than burning. Chronically high insulin levels can make it extremely easy to gain weight and very hard to lose weight.
Low Blood Sugar
Since insulin is involved with storing blood sugar in the cells, high levels can lead to more peaks and valleys in blood sugar. Many with insulin resistance are more prone to blood sugar crashes where they feel irritable, light-headed, and shaky, particularly after a higher sugar meal.
There are many different causes of acne, but insulin resistance is a common one that is often overlooked! Insulin will spike with high sugar and dairy diets, which is why removing these two types of food can often improve the appearance of acne. Particularly for women who have acne AND long menstrual cycles, insulin levels should be looked at.
Darkening of skin folds
High insulin levels can cause darkening of the skin within body folds and creases. This is a condition known as acanthosis nigricans and it is typically seen at the back of the neck, armpits, groin or knee creases.
Dr. Kelly Clinning, ND
Dr. Kelly Clinning is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor (ND) with a passion for research and evidence-based care. Her clinical focus is in treating women’s health with a particular concentration on reproductive health, PCOS, endometriosis and thyroid health. Her goal is to help women connect with their bodies, understand their remarkable physiology, and maintain sustainable balance in their health and life.
Dr. Kelly has her naturopathic prescribing license and incorporates natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) and bio-identical hormone treatment into her practice. She also uses nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and clinical supplementation.
After graduating from Western University with a Bachelor of Science and an Honours specialization in Kinesiology, she completed a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. She is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, and the Endocrinology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is in good standing with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.
If you would like to book an assessment or work with Dr. Clinning directly, you can book an in-person or online appointment here.