How to Increase Insulin Sensitivity Naturally
If you want to get hold of your blood glucose levels, lose weight, and improve your overall health without medications, you need to learn how to increase insulin sensitivity naturally.
Insulin sensitivity refers to how effectively your body can use insulin to move glucose into cells, where it’s either used as energy or stored as glycogen or fat. High blood sugar levels are usually associated with diabetes, but high blood sugar levels alone don’t always result in type 2 diabetes.
One of the primary factors in determining whether you develop type 2 diabetes or not is your insulin sensitivity. This is basically how well your body responds to the hormone insulin and metabolizes glucose (blood sugar). If you can improve your insulin sensitivity, you will likely be able to keep your blood sugar levels low and reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
If you struggle with insulin resistance, you may experience symptoms like fatigue, sluggishness, and unwanted weight gain around your mid-section. This happens especially when eating foods high in carbs like fruit, starchy vegetables, pasta, white bread, baked goods, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Fortunately, there are several safe and effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity so that you can reap the benefits of greater energy levels and overall health.
What is insulin?
Insulin sometimes called the hormone of life plays an essential role in regulating blood sugar levels in the body. It’s produced by the pancreas and released into the bloodstream when you eat food. When released, insulin attaches to insulin receptors on cells throughout your body, allowing them to absorb glucose from your bloodstream for use as energy.
It can also convert excess sugar into fat.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance or low insulin sensitivity means your cells are rejecting insulin, leading to glucose accumulation in the blood. This is what happens in type 2 diabetes.
But that’s not all. With insulin also being a fat-storing hormone, it will convert the excess glucose in the blood into fat and store it in the body, specifically around your mid-section and internal organs.
These may increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
So if you’re looking to better control your blood glucose without storing it as fat, you have to improve insulin sensitivity.
Here’s how to increase insulin sensitivity naturally.
1. Engage in resistance training
For a long time, traditional aerobic endurance exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming have been the number one recommendation for increasing insulin sensitivity in both healthy individuals and those with insulin resistance, such as in type 2 diabetes.
However, studies are now clear that resistant training works best to help your body increase insulin sensitivity naturally, lose weight, and regulate your blood glucose.
Resistant training is any type of exercise that requires you to lift something and lower it back down against some sort of resistance (whether that be an external load like free weights or a weight bench, or an internal load like a medicine ball, push-ups, or squats).
Resistance training is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity. The reason: When you lift weights, your body releases a hormone called growth hormone, which helps break down fat cells and build muscle. Muscle building comes with new cells that are more receptive to insulin, thus improving insulin resistance.
If you do any kind of strength-based exercise on a regular basis, your insulin sensitivity will increase over time, leading to healthier blood glucose levels overall. Resistance training is also good for helping you maintain a healthy weight over time, which is another factor in lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Make sure that you do exercise that involves all major muscle groups—you’ll build more muscle mass and burn more calories overall that way.
In a controlled study published by the American Diabetic Association, progressive resistance training done twice weekly without any weight loss diet on type 2 diabetes individuals for 4 weeks recorded an increase in insulin sensitivity by 46%.
It also reduced belly fat and improved fasting blood glucose levels.
This popular practice within the weight loss industry may help you reverse insulin sensitivity naturally.
While some people may go for alternate day fasting, others may opt for intermittent fasting, and if done correctly, they both can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Intermittent fasting simply involves periods of eating and not eating. It is not a calorie restriction diet. However, studies have shown that it can be easier to follow and even more effective than restricting your daily calorie intake.
When you eat, you increase insulin production, which facilitates glucose storage in the liver and the conversion of glucose into fat. When you are not eating (fasting), you decrease insulin while burning the stored sugar and fat.
Fasting is one way to avoid triggering insulin. This will help the cells heal and become more sensitized to insulin. See 18:6 Intermittent Fasting.
3. Reduce inflammation
Chronic inflammation is the root cause of most diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. Read More. This comes from an unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. See 13 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
To increase insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance, you must first eliminate inflammatory foods such as:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Refined carbohydrates
- Trans fats
- Vegetable and seed oil
- Processed meats
Then incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as:
4. Adopt a low carb diet
Carbohydrates are digested to release sugar, and on a high carbohydrate diet, more sugar will be released into the blood, requiring more insulin to carry it. Best Low Carb Snacks.
And because the cells are rejecting insulin, but the body doesn’t send that signal to the pancreas to stop insulin production, insulin will keep being released to help get the glucose out of the blood. This can cause up to 7-9 times more insulin production than usual, causing more insulin resistance.
With high insulin, you can’t lose weight, and your body will keep storing fat.
A 2019 publication by The American Diabetic Association stated that a low carbohydrate diet was the most effective approach in the management of diabetes.
5. Get adequate sleep
It’s been known for a long time that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. When you don’t get enough shut-eye, your body starts secreting more of a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been shown to increase belly fat, slow metabolism, and disrupt other hormones like insulin. Getting enough sleep can help you fix all of these problems.
That being said, sleep quality matters. When you sleep better, the body gets time to repair and restore itself. If you don’t get enough—or if you have poor-quality sleep—you’ll end up feeling tired and cranky, which makes it more difficult to exercise and eat right. Poor sleep will also directly contribute to insulin resistance, a major factor in type 2 diabetes. Ensure you get between seven and nine hours of good quality sleep each night for optimal results. Top 10 Benefits Of Getting Enough Sleep.
6. Reduce stress
Chronic stress can disrupt your sleep and spike cortisol, a hormone that promotes belly fat. In fact, study participants who experienced greater stress and anxiety had higher levels of visceral fat—the kind deep in your belly that’s linked to inflammation and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It converts the amino acid in protein into sugar and reduces the effects of insulin. This can lead to an increase in blood sugar with poor insulin function causing more insulin resistance. Why Is Stress Management Important?
Fortunately, there are several things you can do in your daily life to reduce stress. You can, exercise, or go for a walk. Also, try being more organized and putting systems in place that help you stay organized so that tasks don’t get stressful. Finally, sleep is another effective tool for reducing stress, so make sure you are getting enough of it every night. Best Foods For Stress Relief.
7. Eat foods high in soluble fiber
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Although they are both beneficial to your health, insoluble fiber acts to add bulk to your stool and help with bowel movements. In contrast, soluble fiber helps feed your good gut bacteria and has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity. How Much Fiber Per Day?
Soluble fiber can be found in foods like oats, apples, artichokes, garlic, and whole grains. It absorbs water and forms a viscous gel that slows digestion. Insoluble fiber doesn’t form a gel, and it will go straight through your digestive system without being absorbed or digested. Soluble fiber helps control blood sugar levels by slowing down food’s journey through your body. High Fiber Gluten-Free Foods.
If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, adding more soluble fiber to your diet can help lower your blood glucose levels. If you don’t have diabetes but are at risk for developing it, increasing soluble fiber can also help prevent spikes in blood glucose after meals. See some
Some people find it easier to add more fiber slowly rather than all at once, so start with just one new source of fiber per day and gradually increase from there. Eating both types of fiber is ideal because they offer different benefits; combining them creates an even greater impact on blood sugar regulation and gut health. Best Fiber Foods For Constipation.
8. Include cinnamon in your diet
Cinnamon is an aromatic spice and probably one of the best to include in your insulin-sensitive diet due to its ability to reverse insulin resistance naturally.
Cinnamon can help increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose regulation through its ability to imitate the effects of insulin and improve glucose utilization within the cells.
In one review, 543 patients with type 2 diabetes recorded lower fasting blood sugar, reduced total cholesterol, decreased LDL, and increased HDL (good cholesterol) for 4-8 weeks that they were on cinnamon.
9. Cut down on carbohydrates
Carbs, especially refined carbohydrates, are quickly converted into glucose and sent throughout your body. This sugar rush triggers your pancreas to release insulin—which prompts cells in your body to absorb glucose and convert it into energy. The more you eat carbs, however, the less sensitive your cells become over time.
So if you’re trying to lose weight and increase insulin sensitivity, cutting back on carbs is a good idea. To lower your carb intake, start by avoiding bread and pasta; try switching from white rice to brown rice or quinoa instead. Also, avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice; instead, opt for water or unsweetened tea. It may take some getting used to at first, but these new habits will soon feel normal.
10. Lose weight
Another effective way to boost your insulin sensitivity is by losing weight. Losing weight helps you decrease your insulin levels and makes it easier for your body to process carbohydrates.
In fact, research suggests that there’s a direct correlation between weight loss and insulin sensitivity. Every pound lost can help increase your insulin sensitivity by 1%. That may not sound like much, but over time those small changes can make a big difference in increasing insulin sensitivity.
For example, if you were 100 pounds overweight and lost 50 pounds, your insulin sensitivity would improve by 50%, which would significantly reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other conditions. See Lifestyle Changes To Lose Weight Permanently.
11. Add turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that gives curry powder its distinctive yellow color. It’s filled with curcuminoids compounds, like curcumin, which gives it potent anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds can also help protect against disease, improve brain function, fight infection, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase the transportation of glucose into the cells.
This potent herb can be taken in capsule form or added to dishes such as soups and stews. 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric can add more than 1,000 mg of curcumin—that’s nearly 10 times what you would find in an average capsule!
Insulin is an essential hormone that helps regulate your blood glucose levels, among other functions. However, chronic elevation in blood glucose may cause the cells to be less receptive to insulin, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more.
Insulin sensitivity refers to the ability of insulin to facilitate glucose uptake and utilization by the cells in your body. If your body is not responding well to insulin, it means that your cells are not taking up glucose from your bloodstream as readily as they should be able to—a state called insulin resistance, which can lead to higher than normal blood sugar levels, prediabetes, and eventually diabetes. It may also increase your risk of developing cardiovascular conditions.
Luckily, this article provides different things you can do to increase insulin sensitivity naturally, helping you maintain your health and wellbeing.
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