GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– As many as one in three Americans are affected by insulin resistance.

The silent blood sugar problem increases the risk for prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other serious health problems.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, 7NEWS’ Taylor Murray, spoke with a nurse practitioner about preventing and reversing insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance also known as Metabolic syndrome is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. Over time, it causes your blood sugar levels to go up.

It sounds complicated, but nurse practitioner Amanda Ridenhour says it’s pretty common.

“So your body is not able to utilize the sugar that you’re eating in the form of carbohydrates or sugars, so your body’s not able to convert it to energy like it normally would,” Ridenhour said.

Untreated, insulin resistance can lead to heart attack, stroke, cancer, and prediabetes, which in turn can progress into full-blown type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, the blood sugar problem often lurks silently in the body.

Ridenhour says there are some ways to know you are at risk.

“Someone that tends to carry their fat more in the central part of their abdomen, around their chest, closer to the heart– that person might be a greater risk for insulin resistance.”

Amanda Ridenhour / Nurse Practioner, Bon Secours Endocrinology

A family history of type 2 diabetes, as well as a sedentary lifestyle also raises your risk.

A balanced diet and exercise is the key way to prevent and reverse insulin resistance– the hallmark treatment.

“A person to be physically active in the form of 115 minutes per week. So, really that breaks down to about 20 minutes a day of aerobic physical activity as simple as walking,” Ridenhour said.

Reducing stress and getting enough sleep will also help.

You can’t tell someone has insulin resistance just by looking at them. Some tests will need to be run by a healthcare professional.

Ridenhour says regular check-ins with your doctor can keep insulin resistance from going unnoticed.

Ridenhour says those who have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome are at risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

She recommends getting vaccinated as the best way to stay safe from covid, as well as, following other safety precautions like mask-wearing and handwashing.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.