Treating Insulin Resistance with Direct Primary Care
Once you are insulin resistant, you are always insulin resistant. Those lost pancreatic beta cells never produce insulin again. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. But it’s certainly possible to make your remaining pancreatic function perform better for the rest of your life.
The best treatment for managing insulin resistance is exercise, diet and weight loss. As a direct primary care physician, I spend anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes with patients newly diagnosed with insulin resistance and together we can form a plan to fight the disease. With same-day or next-day appointments available, I believe in being accessible to my patients and providing thoughtful care.
Advocacy also matters to Olp Family Medicine of Carmel, so I emphasize the need to educate my patients about what lifestyle changes they can make to improve insulin function and prevent future diabetes. Here’s my advice regarding exercise, diet and weight loss.
Exercise to Prevent Diabetes
Regular exercise is well known to be the strongest insulin sensitizer we have. It will improve insulin function better than any medication you could ever take. Even if you don’t lose a pound or eliminate a single gram of sugar from your diet, if you add exercise into your lifestyle you’ll improve your insulin function.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. I personally think that’s only a minimum. People who exercise for a full hour a day will dramatically improve their insulin function.
I try to really emphasize to my patients the importance of exercise, and educate them on how much to do and the best ways to schedule it into their day. You can get the same benefits from exercising for 10 minutes, three times a day, as doing all 30 minutes at one time. Walking for 10 minutes, three times a day, is one way to incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle.
Diet Tips to Defend Against Pre-Diabetes
The more carbohydrates you eliminate from your diet, the less work your insulin needs to do to function optimally. So, it makes sense that the less stress you place on your insulin, the longer it’s going to work for you.
I try to help my patients understand what a carbohydrate is, and identify healthy ways to replace them. One of the biggest questions I get is, “I know what I’m not supposed to eat, but what can I eat?” Carbohydrates come in many forms, and they hide in so many places because we have so much processed food now.
Try to eliminate refined sugar, anything made with white flour, and starchy foods like pasta, white potatoes, rice and corn. I don’t like no-carb diets, but I think low-carb diets work well for insulin resistance.
I also have patients keep a food diary and an exercise diary for one week before they come in, so we can go through it and figure out what they’re doing right, what we can eliminate and what we can substitute. I teach them how to read food labels, do carb counting and figure out how many carbs they can have per day.
Weight Loss Will Help
If you’re doing the first two (exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day and cutting out the junky carbs), the weight loss just goes along with that. Most of the research today shows if you lose just 5 percent of your total body weight, you’ll get a good boost in insulin function; 10 percent, gives you even more. That helps stave off diabetes even longer.
Research also shows if we don’t treat you when you are in the insulin-resistant or pre-diabetes phase, there’s a 100-percent chance you will be a diabetic within five to 10 years. It’s so important to treat it early, so you never get diabetes or we delay it as long as we can.
Direct Primary Care Approach to Treating Diabetes
At Olp Family Medicine, we do frequent weigh-ins. Because I’m a DPC practice, I have some patients who come in weekly just to be weighed. It helps them feel more accountable when they know someone is tracking that scale number. Some patients come in monthly, which helps them keep a 30-day goal in mind.
This personable and accessible approach allows me to manage lifestyle factors and insulin resistance in real time. Instead of a doctor telling you to cut out the carbs, exercise and see you in three months, I’m much more personally involved in your daily activities.
I believe the best way to treat insulin resistance and improve the efficiency of your insulin is through making significant changes to your diet and committing to regular exercise. Contact me today and let’s work out a treatment plan to prevent diabetes from ever rearing its ugly head.