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The difference between diabetes and insulin intolerance

One of my clients asked me today and it’s a question which is raised often after many people receive their blood test results: what is the difference between diabetes and insulin intolerance?

Pre-diabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance, is how we describe an earlier state of developing insulin resistance. It is normally diagnosed by having a fasting blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dl. Pre-diabetes is very easy to reverse.

This can be done by some basic lifestyle adjustment. Swapping processed foods for real foods lower in sugar and sugar-forming carbohydrates together with regular exercise will quickly put lead to a turnaround of this condition.

As insulin resistance advances, sugar and fats increase in the bloodstream which leads to high triglyceride levels and increased body fat--especially abdominal fat (and visceral fat) — and elevated blood pressure. Having three or more of a group of symptoms caused by insulin (and leptin) resistance is called metabolic syndrome. This group of symptoms include high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol), higher blood glucose and blood pressure, and increased abdominal fat.

If you’ve reached this point, you’re well on route toward developing type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas is producing some insulin, in fact usually too much, but is unable to recognise the insulin and utilise it properly. This is a progressive stage of insulin resistance.

When there is insufficient insulin signalling, sugar cannot get into the cells and instead builds up in the blood. Therefore blood sugar levels will be elevated.

It is often thought that metabolic syndrome is linked to eating too many calories and not moving enough. But there is scientific evidence that shows that sugar, and especially fructose, really is to blame.

When I say that sugar is “toxic” I mean that it is not a real poison but it contributes to metabolic syndrome, which can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a number of other chronic conditions. So consumed in large amounts over time will clearly result in impaired health.

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