insulin resistance, type 1, heart disease

Insulin Resistance in Type 1: Why Does it Happen?

We hear a lot about insulin resistance as a symptom of type 2 diabetes, but what about type 1? It turns out that insulin resistance is also possible in type 1, and a leading cause of heart disease in T1D patients. 

Double diabetes

When someone with type 1 diabetes develops insulin resistance, some scientists have called this “double diabetes.” In this case, a person has the symptoms of type 1 in which the cells of the pancreas do not produce insulin, as well as the effects of type 2 in which the body’s cells are resistant to insulin. 


What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance happens when the body’s cells ignore or resist insulin’s signal to take glucose out of the cells and use it for energy.  

Insulin resistance can be caused by many factors, including:

  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excess belly fat
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Large waist size
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Another factor causing insulin resistance is metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of  three or more of the following:

  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDLs
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High fasting blood sugar

Why do people with type 1 develop insulin resistance?

Why would someone with type 1 develop insulin resistance? In some cases, insulin resistance comes about for the same reasons it does with type 2: obesity, poor health, and high blood sugar. 

In other cases, insulin resistance actually occurs as a result of regularly injecting insulin and thus having too much insulin circulating in the blood. This is because injected insulin goes directly into the bloodstream, and not into the liver as naturally secreted insulin would. These necessary insulin injections can also lead to inflammation. 

Unfortunately, there is not much one can do to change this since insulin is necessary for survival in type 1 diabetes. Until advancements are made in new improved insulin, people with diabetes must use what’s available for now. The good news is that by eating a very low carb diet and managing your weight, you can reduce your chances of developing insulin resistance. Your chances of increasing insulin sensitivity are greater if you combine diet, exercise, and weight loss.