8 Ways to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity Naturally
Insulin sensitivity refers to the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, and it’s an important part of managing diabetes naturally. In some cases, you can improve your insulin sensitivity through lifestyle changes; in others, you may need to work with your doctor to manage medications that affect your insulin sensitivity. Here are eight natural ways to improve your insulin sensitivity and help manage diabetes more effectively.
1) Avoid Low-Carb Diets
Low-carb diets can be effective in many ways, but they come with a few caveats. You can lose weight on them and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, but there’s evidence that low-carb diets high in animal products increase your risk of cancer. In addition, research suggests that low-carb diets may lead to slower metabolism in general (7).
Because you’re cutting out whole food groups from your diet, you also miss out on vitamins and minerals that would otherwise help protect against chronic disease. Going meatless for a few days each week is an easy way to incorporate more low-carb foods into your diet without getting bored or going broke!
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2) Eat Enough Fat
One way to increase insulin sensitivity is to eat enough dietary fat—and healthy fats, in particular. Contrary to popular belief, eating fat doesn’t actually raise your cholesterol levels; and it is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Healthy fats may also help reduce inflammation throughout your body. To improve your insulin sensitivity, try adding extra avocado, olive oil or salmon into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially helpful for improving blood sugar control, as they help regulate blood flow and improve heart health.
A well-balanced diet will include these foods as well as lean meats, fish, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Be sure to check with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
For more tips on how to prevent diabetes read our post: Diabetes Prevention Tips.
3) Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are a detriment to insulin sensitivity. When food is processed, fibre and protein content is reduced while added sugars, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats are added. In addition, such foods have been stripped of most antioxidants and other nutrients that support healthy blood sugar levels. This creates a number of negative health effects including poor insulin sensitivity.
When eating out, ask your server about ingredients used in dishes you order; if possible, opt for healthier meals like salads or grilled chicken rather than fried or breaded entrees as these will help improve your insulin sensitivity. Avoid soft drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup and table sugar; drink water instead. Increase consumption of whole grains as they provide many benefits like healthy digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
4) Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity in recent years, due in part to its efficacy at helping people lose weight. One of the intermittent fasting’s biggest advantages is that it increases insulin sensitivity, which is your body’s ability to use insulin effectively. The process of breaking down and utilizing food requires an adequate supply of insulin—one reason why many people who are overweight struggle with weight loss.
If you have poor insulin sensitivity (or if you have diabetes), then intermittent fasting can help restore your body’s normal response and make it easier for you to shed pounds without feeling hungry or deprived. Check out 5 Tips for Achieving a Fasting State for more information on how intermittent fasting works and learn how you can reap these health benefits along with help with fat loss!
5) Increase Fiber Intake
Fibre slows digestion and helps keep your blood sugar in check. It can also help you feel fuller, and for longer, which may prevent you from snacking on empty calories later on. Fibre-rich sources include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Start small with a daily goal of 25 grams (1 ounce) for women or 38 grams (1 1/2 ounces) for men; aim for at least 14 grams from soluble fibre foods like beans, nuts and oats as well as from fruits and vegetables. Increase your intake gradually overtime if needed.
Don’t forget about insoluble fibre—found in wheat bran, brown rice and many other whole grains—which can help improve elimination by helping food move through your digestive tract more quickly. Foods high in insoluble fibre include whole-wheat bread and cereals, brown rice, popcorn, dried peas and beans, applesauce and most fruits.
6) Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a good source of natural caffeine and catechins, which have potent antioxidant activity in cells. One such compound, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), has been found to improve insulin sensitivity by increasing glucose transport into muscle cells. You can buy green tea supplements or brew your own at home for less than a dollar per cup!
7) Exercise Regularly
While regular exercise is a proven way to lose weight, it’s also great for your health. Working out improves insulin sensitivity and may help control glucose levels better than medication alone can. Plus, being physically active—particularly if you already have type 2 diabetes—can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week, or try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that can boost metabolism quickly.
8) Eat a Vegetarian Diet Section: 9) Use the Glycemic Index Section: 10) Take Fish Oil Section: 11) Get Enough Sleep Section: 12) Lower Stress Levels Section: 13) Stop Smoking Section: 14) Lose Weight
A common side effect of insulin resistance is weight gain. Specifically, it’s gaining around your middle. So as you try to take control of your insulin sensitivity, think about making diet and lifestyle changes that will help you lose weight. Among other benefits, losing just 10 pounds can bring down your fasting glucose levels by up to 50 mg/dL — that’s a pretty big drop! (Reference: 1) Note: This post has been updated since it was originally published in May 2016; no significant content was changed.
References are linked within text where appropriate, though some links may require purchase or subscription. Image credit: Shutterstock On Tuesday, November 28th, I’ll be hosting my first live webinar ever at 12pm ET on How to Start a Successful Business .
You’ll learn what it takes to start your own business from concept to execution including how much money you need, how long it takes and more. Join me here to join me live and ask questions during the presentation. I’d love for you all to join me there on Tuesday if possible!
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