Insulin is one of the most important hormones in your body. It is responsible for keeping your blood sugar levels low, which is very important in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease closely linked to the epidemic of obesity that requires long-term medical attention to limit the development of its wide range of health complications.
One of the signs that you are at risk of developing diabetes is when your body stops, responding to insulin.
When this happens, you are considered “pre-diabetic” and need to take steps to increase your sensitivity to insulin.
The good news is that this can be done by changing your diet and lifestyle. Here are eight natural ways to boost insulin sensitivity.
What is Insulin Sensitivity?
When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin to maintain proper blood sugar levels.
Insulin takes the sugar out of your blood and places it into cells to be used for fuel or storage.
However, cells can stop responding properly to insulin and will not take in sugar. This leads to increased blood sugar levels.
People with insulin resistance often receive a diagnosis of prediabetes, which might lead to type 2 diabetes. The key to keeping your blood sugar regulated is to keep your body sensitive to insulin.
- Smoking can impair insulin production.
- Being overweight- excess visceral fat can increase your risk.
- Lack of sleep- losing 1–3 hours of sleep per night can increase insulin resistance.
- Age- being over 47 years of age can increase our risk.
- Use of steroids- Taking this type of drug can increase insulin resistance by 60–80 percent depending on the dose.
- High blood pressure, previous episodes of stroke or heart disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Hormonal disorders- such as Cushing’s syndrome and acromegaly, can disrupt insulin sensitivity.
- Race-African-American, Hispanic, Native Alaskan, Indian, Hawaiian, or American, and Pacific Islander descent are at a higher risk of insulin resistance.
8 natural ways to boost Insulin Sensitivity
Exercise immediately boosts your body’s sensitivity to insulin. When you exercise, your muscles readily take sugar in for storage and fuel. Depending on your workout, you can increase insulin sensitivity.
This is according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.
The results suggest that, when compared with a control intervention, regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity in T2DM, and this may persist for more than 72 hours after the last exercise bout.
Both cardio and resistance training increase insulin sensitivity, so you can do both throughout the week to keep your body as healthy as possible.
For example, a study of overweight men with and without diabetes found that when participants performed resistance training over three months improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss.
Try to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This can include aerobic exercise and strength training.
2) Sleep More
Sleep is incredibly important for your health. When you sleep well, your body has a chance to repair itself. Studies have shown that losing 1–3 hours of sleep per night can increase insulin resistance.
Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. You can make sleep a priority by making your bedroom as calm and peaceful as possible, so you can easily fall asleep and stay asleep.
3) Eat More Fiber
Fiber does more than keep you regular. Increasing your fiber intake can help improve your insulin sensitivity too.
Fiber helps your body slowly absorb sugar and keeps insulin and blood sugar levels low. Fiber also helps increase the good bacteria in your gut. Make sure to eat foods high in soluble fiber like oatmeal, quinoa, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
4) Use More Spices
Adding delicious spices and herbs to your foods can do more than make it taste good! Herbs and spices have been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of illnesses.
Moreover, we now know that several different spices can help increase your insulin sensitivity. Try adding garlic, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek seeds, and cinnamon to your dishes. All of these spices work with your body to reduce insulin resistance.
5) Cut Carbs and Sugar
Simple carbs like white bread, bagels, and pasta raise your blood sugar just like eating sugary treats like cupcakes, cookies, and chocolate. This spike in blood sugar leads to an increase in insulin.
When there is too much insulin production, you risk your body no longer responding correctly.
Avoid sugar and carbs as much as possible, and enjoy fruits and dark chocolate instead. Carbohydrates are also high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
Following a low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet can help to promote weight loss.
Caloric restriction and weight loss are essential factors for remission of Type 2 diabetes, as recently demonstrated in an open-label Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial. The results of the study showed that through a caloric restriction (840 calories day) and weight loss, patients experienced remission to a non-diabetic state.
6) Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may not sound like an appetizing drink, but studies have suggested that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity after a meal while others have shown that it can improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 19-34%.
Apple cider vinegar reduces blood sugar, which decreases the production of insulin in your body. If you cannot stomach drinking apple cider vinegar, you can add it to dressings, sauces, or mix it into a smoothie or tea.
7) Lose Weight
You are much more likely to decrease insulin sensitivity if you are overweight or obese. People with excess fat around the abdomen, are at higher risk of developing insulin resistance.
Fat cells secrete hormones and other substances that may interfere with the processes of insulin.
Fortunately, when you lose weight, you will improve insulin sensitivity and your risk of type 2 diabetes will be reduced.
For example, a study at Johns Hopkins University found that people with prediabetes who lost 5–7% of their total weight over six months reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 54% for the next three years.
This is particularly true if you carry your excess weight in your belly. Pay close attention to your diet, and exercise regularly to lose weight in a safe, healthy way.
Even taking a few pounds off can dramatically boost your insulin sensitivity.
The fasting diet, otherwise known as intermittent fasting, has become popular in recent years, and many people swear by its benefits. The idea behind it is that you fast for short periods.
This is thought to help the body repair damage without entering starvation mode (ketosis).
According to Dr. Charles Burant, a Professor of internal medicine, another effective way to rest the beta cells is by reducing the insulin resistance.
When this happens, insulin secretion will be diminished, which will be enough to maintain a normal glucose level. By increasing the insulin sensitivity, the beta cells will not have to work as hard.
8) Reduce Stress
We all know that stress is bad for your health, but it can also significantly impact your insulin sensitivity as well.
Many studies have reviewed the link between insulin sensitivity and stress and have found that high-stress levels can have a significant impact on insulin production.
One study investigated the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of serum morning cortisol and aspects of insulin action in Latino children and adolescents (8–13 yr) at risk for type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that that cross-sectionally, cortisol may affect insulin sensitivity through increased glucose concentrations, decreased β-cell function, decreased AIR, and IGF-I at an early age, contributing to a long-term decrease in insulin sensitivity.
When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that increase blood sugar levels and trigger insulin production.
Stress hormones also contribute to your body’s inability to respond to insulin properly. Try to lower the stress levels in your life and actively seek out calming practices like yoga, reading, meditation, and relaxation.
If you are diabetic or just worried that you are not sensitive to insulin, then you can start making changes today to increase your body’s insulin sensitivity.
It is crucial to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, no matter how fit you may feel. Always try to lower your stress levels and look into adding spices, herbs, and apple cider vinegar to your diet. These consistent, small changes will make a big difference in how your body responds to insulin and will keep you healthy and feeling good.