How Common Is Insulin Resistance
Since there arent any common tests to check for insulin resistance and there arent any symptoms until it turns into prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, the best way to measure the prevalence of insulin resistance is through the number of prediabetes cases. More than 84 million adults in the United States have prediabetes. Thats about 1 out of every 3 adults.
Natural Ways To Improve Blood Sugar And Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance is at the root of diabetes and prediabetes and affects more than 1 in 3 US adults. Even more shockingly, only 1 in 4 adults with diabetes knew they had the condition, and only 1 in 10 adults with prediabetes knew they were at risk for developing diabetes . While some people may experience no symptoms at all, the effects of insulin resistance can range from moderate to life-threatening. Read on to discover more about insulin, the symptoms of insulin resistance, and the best ways to naturally decrease insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity.
An Insulin Resistance Food Hack: Avoid The Middle Of The Grocery Store
As the American Diabetes Association says, Everyone’s body responds differently to different types of foods and diets, so there is no single “magic” diet for diabetes, but that doesnt mean you have to worry about not eating enough or missing out on delicious foods.
To simplify the what can I eat? concern, Erik Levi, certified functional nutritional therapy practitioner and health coach, says, I tell clients to avoid the entire middle of the grocery store. In short, focus on the perimeter of the grocery store, where youll find all of the fresh produce, meat, and seafood.
Youll want to avoid alcohol, sodas, boxed foods, candies, ice creams, breads, pastas and anything else that is processed. You can spot processed foods easily by looking at the packaging. Most processed foods come in a box or bag. You can also take a peek at the ingredient list. If its got a long list of ingredients, skip it.
Levi makes it very clear: The less ingredients the better.
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Supplements For Insulin Sensitivity
Certain phytonutrients, minerals, and supplements can be useful to support insulin sensitivity
Berberine upregulates an enzyme called AMPK, which stimulates glucose uptake and the use of fats for fuel . This supports a healthy blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity. Berberine is also useful for blood sugar balance in people who have PCOS as well.
Chromium is necessary for proper blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity. Studies show that blood chromium levels are lower in people with type 2 diabetes than those without .
Magnesium is essential for all human health, and plays a critical role in normal blood sugar balance and the actions of insulin. Magnesium deficiency also triggers systemic inflammation that perpetuates inflammation which worsens insulin resistance .
How Can You Make Your Body Insulin Resistant
There are many causes of insulin resistance, the most common of which are obesity, stress, and genetics. Insulin resistance is the inability of the body to use insulin effectively. Insulin resistance is a common problem, and it is likely to get worse as you age. Insulin resistance is associated with weight gain, which is why its common among obese people. Stress can also cause insulin resistance. This is because stress is associated with high levels of cortisol. Stress hormones cause insulin levels to rise, which causes insulin resistance. If you want to reverse insulin resistance, youll need to address the primary causes of insulin resistance, which include obesity and stress.
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How To Get Rid Of Insulin Resistance
Over time, our body can become resistant to insulin, which is a hormone that is critical to the use of insulin in our bodies. This process can happen because the body doesnt produce enough insulin or the cells dont respond to insulin properly. Symptoms of insulin resistance include weight gain, fatigue, aches and pains, brain fog, and skin issues. If youre suffering from these symptoms, you may want to think about taking some steps to get rid of insulin resistance.
Get Sufficient Micronutrients In Your Diet
We all know the importance of consuming the right proportion of macronutrients: carbs, protein and fats. But there is another essential food group that often goes ignored: micronutrients. These include enzymes, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, flavonoids, etc. that are responsible for a variety of functions, from neutralizing harmful free radicals, to ridding the body of inflammation. Micronutrients are necessary to build a healthy gut biomeso essential bacteria can flourish, ensuring your body is flush with a multitude of Vitamins needed to keep it ticking in tip top shape. Uncookedbut properly cleanedfresh greens, some fruit, colorful vegetables, herbs, and many spices are rich in these micronutrients. Ensure you get a heaping serving of these micronutrients in your diet.
Practice Good Sleeping Habits
Cortisol levels increase with sleep deprivation. Cortisol makes your body more insulin resistant. Markers of inflammation can also increase with poor sleep, which can raise blood glucose levels.
Alzheimers Disease: Type Iii Diabetes
Its been known in the medical and scientific community that type II diabetes can increase your risk of Alzheimers disease. However, there are recent developments regarding a new form of diabetes, type III diabetes which is directly linked to Alzheimers. An increasing number of researchers now call Alzheimers disease type III diabetes. Research has shown that insulin resistance is one of the main reasons behind memory loss and dementia that can lead to Alzheimers disease .
However, cognitive decline takes a long time to develop, and diabetes doesnt happen overnight either. The good news is that through appropriate dietary and lifestyle choices, diabetes and cognitive decline can both be prevented .
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Reduce Stress And Practice Deep Breathing
Due to the increased release of a stress hormone, called cortisol, excessive and chronic stress can increase your blood sugar levels. Chronic stress can also increase emotional eating, overeating, and cravings for sugary junk foods and other unhealthy comfort foods, which can increase inflammation in your body and further increase your blood sugar. To stabilize your blood sugar and reverse insulin resistance, tackling chronic stress is crucial .
Meditation, relaxation exercises, yoga, journaling, coloring, using essential oils, creating some me-time, taking a relaxing bath, spending time in nature, and connecting with loved ones are natural stress relievers that can benefit your health if you are dealing with insulin resistance. These practices can help you to lower overall stress levels and respond to stress more effectively without ruining your health .
Deep breathing is another practice that can reduce stress and stabilize your blood sugar. Diaphragmatic breathing is one form of a deep breathing technique you can try. Breathe deeply through your nose, hold it in for four counts, then exhale for two through your mouth. Gradually increase the length of your breath until you can hold your breath for 20 counts and exhale for 10 counts. Repeat this two to three times a session for three times a day to reduce stress and improve insulin sensitivity. You can learn more about the benefits of breathing in this article.
When To See A Doctor
If youre struggling with insulin resistance, its important to schedule a visit with your doctor.
He or she should diagnose, treat, and monitor any underlying conditions causing your insulin resistance.
Your doctor may also order some blood tests. HOMA-IR is one important measure of insulin resistance. It is not measured directly in the blood but is calculated from your fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.
You may try the complementary approaches listed below if you and your doctor determine that they could be appropriate for your metabolic health.
Read through and discuss the strategies listed here with your doctor. Remember that none of them should ever be done in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.
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Here Are Some Ways To Determine If You Have Insulin Resistance:
Find your waist to hip ratio.
Measure yourself around your natural waist and also around the widest part of your hips. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For women, the ratio should be no greater than 0.8. If you are above that, it means that you are at risk for insulin resistance. The number for men is 1.0.
Get a fasting insulin test
Ask your doctor to order a blood glucose and insulin test. Typically, you fast for 12 hours and then have your first blood draw. Then you will eat a meal and get a second blood draw two hours after your meal. Fasting blood glucose levels should be under 90 mg/dL. If your levels are 100 to 125 mg/dL you are considered in the pre-diabetes range and are insulin resistant. Fasting insulin levels should be around 5 mcU/ml Anything higher indicates insulin resistance.
Get your cholesterol checked
Abnormal blood cholesterol in addition to abnormal fasting insulin and blood glucose may indicate that you have insulin resistance, especially if you have low HDL and high triglycerides. Typically fasting triglycerides should be below 150. But, more importantly, you want to look for a 1:2 ratio of triglycerides to cholesterol.
Do a skin check
A skin condition called acanthosis nigricans is associated with insulin resistance. Look for darkened skin patches on your neck, elbows, knees, and armpits. Skin tags are also a sign of insulin resistance.
Can You Reverse Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance and prediabetes can be reversed. However, once youre insulin resistant, youre more likely to become insulin resistant again if you dont sustain healthy lifestyle changes.
Healthcare providers typically dont use the word reversed when it comes to insulin resistance or diabetes, but instead might call your insulin resistance controlled, stable, or well-managed.
Its important to diagnose and reverse insulin resistance and prediabetes as early as possible. If left untreated, insulin resistance progresses to type 2 diabetes.
Having insulin resistance or prediabetes is one of the biggest predictors of developing type 2 diabetes later. According to a study, insulin sensitivity declines sharply around five years before a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. That means that the progression from an insulin resistance/prediabetes diagnosis to type 2 diabetes might not take very long.
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Foods To Avoid For Insulin Resistance
If youre managing insulin resistance through what you eat, its important to cut down on processed foods with added sugar.
Foods like these increase your risk of a blood sugar spike:
soda, juice, and sweet tea
refined grains, including white rice, white bread, and cereal with added sugar
ultra-processed snack foods like candy, cookies, cakes, and chips
What To Eat On An Insulin Resistance Diet
The American Diabetes Association are clear that theres no one-size-fits-all diet for controlling insulin resistance. Instead, they recommend personalized nutrition aimed at reaching your blood sugar targets and weight management goals.
However, the ADA have published some broad guidelines for people with insulin resistance:
boost your fiber intake by eating more whole grains
eat food that provides polyunsaturated or good fats
focus on non-starchy vegetables
choose whole foods rather than processed or junk food
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Insulin Sensitivity + Insulin Resistance
Currently, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have pre-diabetes, which means their cells are becoming insulin resistant. Its also estimated that 2 in 5 adults will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses, share root causes in metabolic dysfunction, which is driven primarily by insulin resistance and glucose tolerance .
Continuous overconsumption of carbohydrates creates a constant bombardment of insulin upon your cells. After an extended period of time, your bodys cells begin to become insulin resistant.
Think of this process like continually receiving constant spam phone calls. Eventually, you get frustrated, and stop picking up the phone. This is a little like what happens with your cellsthey become less and less likely to respond to the message insulin sends and they become more insulin resistant.
Insulin resistance can occur over many years, but changes in insulin sensitivity can occur in the body in a little as a few days, making your bodys use of insulin important right now, and not just years in the future.
Nutrition counseling at CentreSpringMD can help you improve your insulin sensitivity.
What Is Insulin And How Does It Work
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Its main job is to manage how your body uses glucose for energy. When blood sugar levels rise after a meal, your pancreas releases insulin to help your bodys cells especially cells in the liver and muscles absorb glucose. Your liver converts stored glucose to glycogen for future use.
When blood sugar levels are too low, your pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon forces the liver to convert glycogen back to glucose, which causes your blood sugar to rise.
You always have low levels of insulin circulating in your body. When insulin is out of balance, the result is abnormal blood sugar levels. High insulin levels can make you feel tired, bloated and cause sugar cravings. And, the more insulin you have circulating in your body, the harder it becomes to lose weight and burn fat.
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Understanding The Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index is an index that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by high, medium, and low glucose levels. Understanding where foods fall on the GI scale can help you make smart eating and food purchasing decisions to help support insulin resistance.
Youll want to eat foods that generally fall low on the GI scale. Low GI foods include whole grains, sweet potatoes, and non-starchy veggies. If youre looking for sweet stuff, youll want to try low-GI, non-nutritive sweeteners, such as monk fruit and Stevia.
A wise move: Download a GI app, such as Glycemic Index Load, for your phone to help you make healthy grocery-shopping decisions.
Reduce Your Carb Intake
Reducing carb intake consistently improves insulin sensitivity and fasting insulin levels . In addition to low carb being an effective strategy for weight loss which improves insulin sensitivity. Going lower in carbohydrates simply means that you are having less of the macronutrient that causes the greatest glucose and insulin response.
Tip: low carb does not mean no carb or keto! If you havent ever tried having less carbs, experiment! Start with one meal a day, replacing a higher carb item like some rice, with some cauliflower rice. Check out the lower carbohydrate recipe section for more meal ideas.
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Get The Right Amount Of Protein And Fat For You
Similarly, a diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates can contribute to insulin resistance too. However, pairing your carbohydrates with a little bit of fat can help with improving blood glucose levels.
The key is to focus on finding the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for your unique body. This where an individualized approach either with a CGM, dietitian, or both can help.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Over the past few decades, the incidence of insulin resistance has skyrocketed primarily due to our lifestyle and the rising incidence of obesity. Without treatment, the condition is associated with numerous complications including fatal cardiac events. The management of insulin resistance is best done with an interprofessional team. The consultations most indicated for the treatment of insulin resistance include:
The key is encouraging lifestyle changes in these patients. Dietary intervention should include a combination of calorie restriction and reduction of high glycemic index carbohydrates. Physical activity improves both calorie expenditure and insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue.
For those who remain compliant with therapy, the outcomes are good but unfortunately, many patients remain non-compliant and suffer adverse cardiac or CNS events. This is why an interprofessional team approach is needed in the management of these patients.
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Add Herbs And Spices To Your Cooking
Herbs and spices were used for their medicinal properties long before they were introduced into cooking.
However, it was not until the past few decades that scientists began examining their health-promoting properties.
- Fenugreek seeds. Theyre high in soluble fiber, which helps make insulin more effective. Eating them whole, as an extract, or even baked into bread may help increase blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity (
These findings for herbs and spices are promising. However, most research in this area is recent and was conducted in animals. Human studies are needed to investigate whether herbs and spices do indeed increase insulin sensitivity.
Garlic, fenugreek, turmeric, and ginger may help increase insulin sensitivity. The research behind them is recent and primarily conducted in animals, so more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
What To Limit Or Avoid
Try your best to stay away from:
Processed foods, which often have added sugar, fat, and salt. If it comes in cans, boxes, wrappers, and other packaging, itâs probably processed.
Saturated and trans fats, which can boost insulin resistance. These come mainly from animal sources, such as meats and cheese, as well as foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils.
Sweetened drinks, like soda, fruit drinks, iced teas, and vitamin water, which can make you gain weight.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: âEvidence-based diabetes nutrition therapy recommendations are effective: the key is individualization,â âThe DASH Diet and Insulin Sensitivity,â âNutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes,â âDiet and risk of Type II diabetes: the role of types of fat and carbohydrate,â âDairy Products and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: Implications for Research and Practice.â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: âPrediabetes and Insulin Resistance.â
Ohio State University: ââIn study, skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain.â
American Diabetes Association: âDiabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet,â âDiabetes Superfoods,â âNon-Starchy Vegetables,â âFruits,â âProtein Foods,â âDairy,â âCreate Your Plate.â
American Heart Association: âPolyunsaturated Fat,â âMonounsaturated Fat.â
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