Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a condition that causes an elevation in blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the sugar levels in your blood by carefully monitoring the breakdowns of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
There are four types of diabetes:
-Pre-diabetes : The blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose diabetes. But preventive measures need to be followed to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes
-Type 1 diabetes : It is also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent insulin. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce or produces very little insulin.
-Type 2 diabetes : The pancreas produces adequate insulin; however, the cells in the body do not respond well to it. The pancreas then tries to produce more and more insulin to get the cells to respond.
-Gestational diabetes : This type of diabetes is first diagnosed during pregnancy. It affects up to 10% of women who are pregnant in the U.S.
What is Insulin Sensitivity?
If your body is sensitive to insulin, it means that it can transport glucose from your blood into the cells to be used as an energy source. A high insulin sensitivity results in a faster and more effective movement of glucose into cells. Low insulin sensitivity is also called insulin resistance. The cells of the body do not respond to insulin, and as a result, do not absorb the glucose. This leads to high glucose levels in the body, eventually resulting in type 2 diabetes.
How Does Exercise Affect Insulin Sensitivity?
Regular exercising can help enhance insulin sensitivity.
Exercises help move sugar into muscles for storage, which immediately increases insulin sensitivity. Glucose uptake increases for up to two hours after a good workout. According to a study, a single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for at least 16 hours post exercise.
Resistance training can help increase your insulin sensitivity. A study conducted on overweight men both with and without diabetes, revealed that resistance-training for three months increases their insulin sensitivity. This wasn’t dependent on other factors like weight loss.
Importance of Insulin Sensitivity
Your sensitivity to insulin determines how effectively your body can use glucose for energy to perform critical body functions.
Other benefits of insulin sensitivity include:
Enhanced insulin sensitivity has been shown to result in successful long-term weight loss.
Reduced Risk of Disease
Insulin sensitivity helps reduce the risk of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, thyroid conditions, blood clot disorders, and more.
Slowing Down Cognitive decline
Insulin resistance has been associated with poorer cognitive performance and greater cognitive decline. In fact, some researchers refer to Alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes.
Insulin resistance results in increased secretion of insulin. This has been associated with the increased risk of various skin conditions like acanthosis nigricans, skin tags, hirsutism, and androgenetic alopecia.
How Does Genetics Affect The Influence Of Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity
The Influence Of LIPC Gene on Insulin Sensitivity
The LIPC gene encodes the enzyme called hepatic lipase. This enzyme is produced in the liver and transported into the bloodstream, where it helps with the conversion of one form of lipoprotein (very low-density lipoproteins - VLDLs or intermediate-density lipoproteins - IDLs) to another (low-density lipoproteins - LDLs). Lipoproteins are a type of fat-transporting molecule.
The enzyme also helps transport high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) that carry cholesterol and triglycerides (TG) from the blood to the liver.
Remember, HDL is the ‘good cholesterol,’ and LDL (including VLDL) is the ‘bad cholesterol.’
The effect of rs1800588 of LIPC Gene on Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity
rs1800588 is an SNP in the LIPC gene. It influences the effects induced by aerobic exercises on VLDL, TG, and HDL levels. The sex of an individual can sway the outcome.
According to a study, the C allele is associated with higher hepatic lipase activity and better insulin sensitivity response to regular exercise.
Non-genetic Factors That Influence the Effect of Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity
The Frequency Of Exercising
A single session of workout can enhance insulin sensitivity from anywhere between two to sixteen hours. But after this window, this effect diminishes. So, regular exercising ensures a good sensitivity to insulin.
The Duration and Intensity of Physical Activity
Both low-intensity exercises for a longer period and high-intensity exercises for a short duration are effective. In fact, one can be substituted for another.
The Type of Physical Activity
Both aerobic and resistance exercises help increase insulin sensitivity. But, the best results are seen when both of these are included in the routine.
Effects of Lowered Insulin Sensitivity
Low insulin sensitivity is called insulin resistance. Without management, insulin resistance can progress to type 2 diabetes. Other effects of insulin resistance include:
-Higher than normal blood pressure readings
-Elevated blood sugar levels
-Abnormal lipid profile
-acanthosis nigricans (a skin disorder resulting in velvety dark patches)
Effects of Very High Insulin Sensitivity
Enhanced insulin sensitivity is mostly a sign of good health. However, at times, higher sensitivity can become an issue.
High insulin sensitivity in people with type 1 diabetes can put them at a risk of hypoglycemia - blood glucose levels dip to levels lower than normal.
Exercises to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Any type of workout can help improve the functioning of insulin. When combined with aerobic activities like brisk walking or cycling and resistance training like weight training, it can result in improved insulin sensitivity.
When starting from a completely sedentary lifestyle, a walking program or a moderate resistance training program can help.
Some aerobic exercises include:
-Jogging or running
Some functional resistance training exercises include:
HIIT workout for Enhancing Insulin Sensitivity
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training involves short periods of high-intensity exercise followed by long periods of recovery – repeated multiple times.
HIIT is an effective workout choice for people with diabetes because of its effects on insulin sensitivity.
HIIT exercises work the fast-twitch muscles really well. This results in an increased uptake of glucose by muscles from the blood. Hence, blood glucose concentrations decrease.
- Insulin sensitivity allows the cells in the body to effectively take up glucose from the blood. Good insulin sensitivity helps prevent glucose build-up and hence decreases your risk of diabetes.
- Enhancing your insulin sensitivity offers many health benefits, including weight loss, healthy skin, decelerating cognitive decline, and reducing diabetes risk.
- Exercising can help improve insulin sensitivity by encouraging the muscle to uptake glucose from the bloodstream. However, the type, duration, and frequency of exercising can influence the response.
- Certain genetic variants determine the extent to which your insulin sensitivity improves in response to exercises. For example, the C allele in the rs1800588 of LIPC gene is associated with a better response to insulin sensitivity upon exercising. Thus, people with the CC type may benefit more in terms of insulin sensitivity if they exercise regularly.
- A low insulin sensitivity can result in weight gain, elevated blood pressure and blood glucose levels, skin tags, and an abnormal lipid profile.
- While it is crucial for your cells to be insulin-sensitive, very high insulin sensitivity can reduce the blood sugar levels to lower than normal (a condition called hypoglycemia) in people with type 1 diabetes.
- A combination of aerobic and resistance training has been associated with a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity. HIIT workout also happens to be an effective choice for people with diabetes. By activating the fast-twitch muscle fibers, HIIT workout encourages the glucose to move from the blood to the muscles, reducing blood sugar levels.