fasting insulin levels

Why Is It Important to Know Your Fasting Insulin Level?

Insulin is a hormone.  It is made and secreted by the pancreas.

Functions of Insulin

The functions of insulin include:

  • Regulation of fats, proteins and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Helping cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream
  • Helping to regulate levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin helps to remove the glucose from the blood and put it into fat and tissue cells where it can be stored for energy.

The production of insulin is stimulated by eating. When all is running tickety-boo, insulin rises when we consume food, does its job and then goes back to its resting levels.  Our bodies always need some circulating insulin, even when we are not eating.

When food has not been consumed for a period of time, usually between 12-20 hours, this level of insulin is called the fasting insulin level.

If our bodies stop responding well to insulin, in many cases due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, this can lead to a condition called insulin resistance.  In the earlier stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas will notch up its production of insulin to keep glucose levels normal.  So if your fasting glucose levels are tested within this paradigm, all may look well.  However you may not be getting an accurate picture of what is truly going on.  Because while your blood sugar level may be within normal range, it could be due to your body compensating for blood sugar issues by elevating your insulin levels.

Insulin resistance in its early stages does not often present with symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear once insulin resistance leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain around the middle (belly fat)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Many diseases are linked to elevated fasting insulin levels including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Migraine headaches
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

A simple blood draw, testing for your fasting insulin level, could be a very important indicator of your health.

Ways to decrease insulin resistance

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can go a long way to decreasing insulin resistance:

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. Eat a balanced whole foods diet with a focus on plant-based eating
  • Get regular exercisefasting insulin levels
  • Get consistent good quality sleep
  • Increase intake of daily fibre aiming for 30-40 grams per day








The Importance of Magnesium for Blood Sugar Management

Magnesium is a mineral and is involved in over 300 enzymatic functions within our body including protein synthesis, blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, energy production and blood glucose management. In its management of blood glucose levels, magnesium therefore can play a role in decreasing risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes and to further this can decrease the risk for cancers of the colon, breast, pancreas and liver[1].

Blood levels of glucose are elevated after we eat and it is the role of insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas, to push that glucose in to our cells. If glucose is consistently elevated, the pancreas is called upon to continually secrete insulin to try and move that glucose from our blood in to the cells. The result of this chronically elevated insulin level is that the receptors on our cells for insulin stop responding with the result that glucose does not get removed from our blood stream and blood glucose levels rise. This condition is better known as insulin resistance.

This study helps us to understand how magnesium influences insulin resistance demonstrating that magnesium is critical for our insulin receptors to function properly. The study also brings to light the fact that high insulin levels can cause an increase in the amount of urinary magnesium excreted from the kidneys. Thus someone with sub par magnesium levels can

enter a vicious circle in which hypomagnesemia causes insulin resistance and insulin resistance reduces serum Mg(2+) concentrations[2]

Getting the daily recommended amount of magnesium, 420mg per day for men and 320 mg per day for women is therefore very important for managing blood sugar and in turn for fighting disease. To ensure that you are achieving your recommended daily allowance of magnesium include foods high in magnesium such as spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, kefir, black beans, bananas and avocados in your diet daily.