Anytime you eat, carbohydrates are broken down and your blood glucose level rises. This triggers the pancreas to produce insulin, which helps bring blood glucose levels back down to normal. When there’s insulin resistance, it means that the body is not reacting normally to the insulin. This can be detrimental to your health given that insulin helps transport blood glucose into cells, where it’s converted into energy. Insulin resistance is also connected to coronary heart disease along with a number of other chronic illnesses, most notably Type 2 Diabetes.
According to the CDC’s research, about 1 in 3 Americans has insulin resistance, but only 20% of those people know it. The issue is it’s very difficult to know if insulin resistance is a problem before it negatively impacts your health. One way to figure out a person’s insulin resistance level is through an at-home blood test. There’s so much you can analyze from a blood sample, including a number of metrics that are directly related to insulin resistance. If you isolate a few key metrics it will give you a clear picture of how your body processes insulin.
Average Blood Sugar Level
Something that is checked for on our liver health panel at-home test is average blood sugar level. Blood sugar levels tell you how much glucose is in the blood. If the average blood sugar level is high it’s an indication insulin resistance or diabetes could be a problem.
There are a few ways to gauge blood sugar levels:
You can take an A1c test to measure average blood sugar levels over the course of three months. The test will tell you what percentage of glucose is bound to red blood cells called hemoglobin. The 3-month metric is known as HbA1c.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
Another option is the fasting glucose test. You’ll have to forgo eating and drinking anything other than water for eight hours before the test. If your level is 99 mg/dL or less it’s considered normal. Fasting glucose levels that are 100-125 indicate insulin resistance. Anything above that is in the diabetes range.
Two-Stage Oral Glucose Test
You can also test how well the body is processing glucose with a two-step blood test. You take the first blood sample after fasting to get that blood sugar level. You then drink a beverage that has 75 mg of sugar and wait two hours. After the two hours have passed you’ll take another blood sample. You want the glucose to be 139 mg/dL or less on the second sample. Anything over that signals insulin resistance because blood sugar isn’t being processed quick enough. However, if you are close to 139 mg/dL your physician may want to do another more in-depth glucose test that collects blood samples 1, 2, and 3 hours after the initial sample is taken.
Triglycerides : HDL Ratio
The tried and true measurement for insulin resistance is the triglycerides : HDL ratio. It’s primarily used to diagnose metabolic insulin resistance syndrome. Ideally, you want the ratio to be less than 1.2.
Of course, testing insulin levels is also crucial. This will tell you if the pancreas is producing an excessive amount of insulin in order to regulate blood sugar levels. When this happens it’s possible for the average blood sugar level to be normal after a period of fasting. The only way of knowing if blood sugar is regulated in a normal way is to test your insulin level as well. A level of 100 mg of glucose or higher is the benchmark for insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is something each person should be aware of because it can have such a dramatic effect on our health and wellbeing. The biggest advantage of an at-home blood test is that once you know your insulin resistance levels you can take steps to improve it. There are a number of lifestyle choices that can influence uptake and reduce insulin resistance.
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