Insulin, a hormone that helps control metabolism and blood sugar, is the major player in diabetes and prediabetes. When people become resistant to insulin, their body no longer uses the hormone effectively, and they may develop type 2 diabetes.

What is insulin resistance?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when you become insulin resistant, your muscles, liver cells, and fat have difficulty absorbing glucose from your bloodstream, which insulin normally facilitates. The pancreas tries to compensate by producing more insulin, but the overworked beta cells in the pancreas likely fail over time. The resulting glucose buildup in your bloodstream may lead to prediabetes, diabetes, and other health problems.

Obesity may cause insulin resistance

Some experts believe that obesity is linked to insulin resistance. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that was reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, scientists looked into this connection. They found that adipose tissue, or body fat, is likely associated with insulin resistance, but it is not clear whether the absence or excess of this fat plays a key role. The researchers noted that fat cells act as endocrine glands and have major effects on organs including the brain, as well as regulating glucose homeostasis and energy balance.

Some experts believe obesity is linked to insulin resistance.

New study links lung disease and insulin resistance

In September 2015, a study published in the American Journal of Physiology and summarized in a press release from the American Physiological Society found that mice with inflammatory lung disease were more prone to insulin resistance. The researchers set out to determine whether inflammatory signaling through airway epithelial cells can cause insulin resistance. People with lung diseases like asthma and pneumonia often have high glucose levels and may be insulin resistant. However, it was unknown whether this is caused by the diseases themselves or by coexisting conditions like obesity or being treated with steroids.

The study mice had airway inflammation which also developed in the liver and other organs. The mices' insulin didn't lessen the liver’s glucose production, but the effects of insulin were moderately impaired in other organs.

The researchers noted that therapies meant to reduce lung inflammation in the interest of treating lung injuries may also lessen a person's likelihood of developing inflammation throughout the body as well as insulin resistance.

Avoiding insulin resistance

The NIH says obesity and lack of physical activity and sleep are risk factors that may increase insulin resistance and the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Exercise may help improve your metabolism and in turn reduce your chances of becoming obese, developing diabetes, and enduring other blood-sugar-related issues.

If you believe you may be on the path toward developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor to determine the next steps you can take to improve your health.

For more on diabetes and insulin:

Know Your Insulin Options
Oops! Insulin Errors Unveiled
New Inhalable Insulin: Afrezza