What is insulin?

Insulin resistance is a common, virtually silent condition where the body's cells become less able to effectively respond to the hormone insulin. To maintain blood glucose stable, this causes the pancreas to secrete even more insulin.

As described in our comprehensive companion manual: What you will need to know about insulin resistance, this becomes a vicious cycle with insulin rising higher and higher and cells getting even more resistant. Eventually, this can lead to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, or other chronic health conditions.

Insulin is a vital hormone we can not live without. What happens but when it's chronically too high? Our cells stop responding to it efficiently. That is insulin resistance. To treat insulin resistance, this guide explains what you can do, particularly with powerful lifestyle activities.

In case you are diagnosed with insulin resistance, your first question maybe if any medicines can cure this condition. The FDA hasn't yet approved one medication to treat insulin resistance. Many physicians may prescribe the popular diabetes drug metformin for insulin resistance individuals.

See: Ayurveda treatments to prevent and reverse Diabetes Mellitus

What is Insulin Resistance?

You may believe that getting a diagnosis of insulin resistance or prediabetes promises you will develop Type 2 diabetes, but that is not true. Insulin resistance and prediabetes are incredibly responsive to lifestyle and dietary alterations. Factors such as improved nutrition, weight loss, and regular exercise can considerably help your blood sugar levels.

Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your liver, muscles, and body fat start to resist and ignore the sign that insulin sends out, alerting them to remove excess sugar from the bloodstream. These cells rely upon insulin to remain properly nourished; they are restricted in drawing sugar from the blood by themselves. If all systems are functioning correctly, the blood glucose remains in balance, and the body's tissues and muscles are well fed with the extra glucose drawn in the bloodstream.

Prediabetes happens when glucose in the blood is elevated but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. The perfect lifestyle changes, insulin resistance, prediabetes, and Type 2 diabetes can be managed and reversed in many cases. Medication may also be prescribed.

See: Best Foods For Diabetics & Shopping List

Reversing insulin resistance naturally

You need to make some diet and lifestyle changes to fight insulin resistance:

- Physical activity & exercise. Muscles burn sugar for energy. The more you go, the more sugar your muscles take from the blood for energy usage, decreasing your glucose levels. This allows for a decrease in insulin secretion, reducing the burden on your pancreas. Likewise, muscles that don't move do not consume blood glucose, so insulin levels can grow to process any surplus. Studies reveal that a mere five days of bed rest induces a condition of insulin resistance in entirely healthy volunteers. Any sort of regular movement can help. Studies indicate that high-intensity interval training (HIIT), resistance training, and aerobic training enhance glucose utilization and enhance insulin sensitivity.

Regardless of your preferred kind of motion or exercise, it's clear that inactivity may result in insulin resistance. And movement increases insulin sensitivity so long as the exercise persists.

- Increase your fitness level: Choose a physical activity you enjoy doing, and devote at least three times weekly to control and reverse insulin resistance and prediabetes.  Moderate exercise is best, like a brisk 30-minute walk every day, yoga, or tai chi. Combine cardio exercise with resistance training or weight-bearing exercise. Consider whether you prefer exercising alone, with a spouse, or in the event you'd like a group game. Also, add some easy techniques to get more active every day.

Whole foods diet. Try to consume complex carbohydrates. Eliminate processed and refined starches, in addition to industrially produced fats (trans fats) and processed foods, from the diet. Some good choices are vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Complex carbohydrates are more complicated on a molecular level and take longer for the body to break down. This means that they absorb more slowly, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. The Complex carbs will also help you feel fuller longer and assist with appetite and weight control. Aim to eat whole food, plant-based diet whenever possible.

No Sugary Drinks. Simple sugars don't cause diabetes, but they do contribute to insulin resistance and overall poor health. A particularly bad offender is high fructose corn syrup is. Avoid simple carbohydrates that include sugar, fructose, and sucrose, like candies, cakes, soft drinks, and added sugars and sweeteners. Learn how to read food labels -- you will find that processed foods and sweets are typically loaded with added sugars.

Boost Fiber Intake. Research indicates that eating insoluble fiber and whole grains, and complex carbohydrates reduce Type 2 diabetes risk. Aim to consume some insoluble fiber with every meal. Good sources include berries like leafy greens, squashes, peas, whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, oats, beans: lentils, navy beans, kidney beans

See: Functional Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle remedies for insulin resistance

Other natural ways to combat insulin resistance include lifestyle changes:

Stress

Studies reveal temporary insulin resistance arises during periods of short term physiological and psychological stress, like a sudden illness or sudden threat. In theory, this might have been an evolutionary advantage at some point in human existence and has been termed "adaptive insulin resistance." This insulin resistance yells when the sudden stress is finished. This type of response to some short-term stress probably has no long-term negative consequences. However, besides, it seems that chronic stress and chronic activation of the body's fight or flight reaction will also cause insulin resistance. Since chronic stress is longer-term, with no sudden onset and fast resolution of this cause, it may lead to longer-term unwanted consequences. Mindfulness training, meditation, yoga, massage, and walking in nature can be powerful ways to decrease stress, improve a feeling of wellbeing, and enhance general physical health. They might also help with insulin resistance. Explore the methods you unwind best, and you might be helping improve your insulin sensitivity.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a popular dietary trend that involves just what it sounds like: not eating during specific time intervals. Even though it might seem like a fad to supportive research is promising.

Studies indicate intermittent fasting may improve insulin sensitivity.

If you're not eating carbohydrates, blood sugar isn't entering the blood flow at precisely the same rate, and insulin isn't released to compensate. This should permit the cells the chance to recuperate and become more insulin sensitive. Fasting provides your pancreas a break.

Though fasting and time-restricted eating are associated, they do have slightly different meanings. Time-limited eating is a sort of intermittent fasting that involves eating foods in a set time frame every day, like only between 11 am and 7 pm. A review of healthy subjects' research demonstrated that fewer foods during a shorter feeding window caused improved glucose and insulin levels. Healthy men who fasted for 20 hours daily for 15 days demonstrated higher glucose uptake with identical insulin levels, in essence, enhancing their insulin sensitivity.

- The low carb, ketogenic diet

Practically any dietary intervention which leads to weight loss, particularly fat loss around the stomach, can temporarily enhance insulin sensitivity. A ketogenic diet fits this description and might be more potent than low carb diets for improving insulin sensitivity. If you're not eating sugar or carbohydrates, which quickly digest to sugar, you'll have less sugar entering your blood and thus less need for high levels of insulin to move sugar from the blood and into cells. Recent studies reveal that a low-carb diet may be an effective diet for enhancing and maybe even reversing type 2 diabetes.

Since insulin resistance is the underlying problem behind type 2 diabetes, a low-carb diet is probably a fantastic diet for addressing the prerequisite insulin resistance before full-blown type 2 diabetes develops. One study in 2005 showed a 75% decrease in insulin levels in ten obese patients with type 2 diabetes that went to a low-carb diet. Lowering your sugar consumption and carbohydrates that digest sugar will probably decrease insulin production and enhanced insulin resistance.

Tobacco use

No smoking component is good for health, but some studies report that active smoking is associated with insulin resistance and the development of diabetes.

Although it's hard to control other potentially harmful actions in which many smokers can also participate, an elevated risk does seem to exist. It's apparent that quitting smoking is vital for improving health on several different levels, and your insulin sensitivity is no exception.

- Sleep

Studies indicate that short-term sleep deprivation raises glucose levels and worsens insulin resistance.

A chronic sleep disturbance, like obstructive sleep apnea, can also be related to worsening insulin resistance. It is uncertain how much sleep is too small, just enough, or too much.  However, there's an association between insulin resistance and sleep. And treating sleep problems may result in improved insulin sensitivity.

The majority of people who reverse their insulin resistance and lower their blood glucose will see those all return to previous high levels if they stop their lifestyle interventions. This strengthens the need to make lifestyle changes that may be preserved for decades and lifetimes. It is best to remain with the most intensive lifestyle change you can keep and be cautious about continual screening for insulin resistance recurrence.

See: How To Lower A1C Overnight

Summary

Insulin is very important to survival and great long-term health. Still, chronically higher insulin levels make your body more receptive to this critical hormone, which could increase your chance of developing severe chronic health conditions. Adopting significant lifestyle changes, such as a low-carb, ketogenic diet, regular physical activity, and a great sleep routine can reduce insulin levels and decrease insulin resistance.

 

See: Yoga & meditation for natural stress relief

References

1. Hall, K. D., & Chung S. T. (2018). Low-carbohydrate diets for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes [Abstract].  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29677013

2. Kumar, A. S. (2018). Exercise and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis [Abstract].  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30553010

3. Mann, S., et al. (2013). Changes in insulin sensitivity in response to different modalities of exercise: A review of the evidence. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 30(4), 257–268 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/dmrr.2488

4. Rajkumar, H., et al. (2014). Effect of probiotic (VSL#3) and omega-3 on lipid profile, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory markers, and gut colonization in overweight adults: A randomized, controlled trial. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2014/348959/

5. Breneman, C. B., & Tucker, L. (2013). Dietary fiber consumption and insulin resistance — the role of body fat and physical activity.  https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridgecore/content/view/AD0FF04833E5280ACF3C86A653D6F963/S0007114512004953a.pdf/dietary_fibre_consumption_and_insulin_resistance_the_role_of_body_fat_and_physical_activity.pdf

6. Gadgil, M. D., et al. (2012). The effects of carbohydrate, unsaturated fat, and protein intake on measures of insulin sensitivity: Results from the OmniHeart trial. Diabetes Care, 36(5), 1132–1137 http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/early/2012/12/02/dc12-0869.full.pdf

7. Imamura, F., et al. (2016). Effects of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate on glucose-insulin homeostasis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled feeding trials. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002087

8. Barnosky, A. R., et al. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: A review of human findings [Abstract].  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X

9. Liu, K., Zhou, et al. (2014). Effect of resveratrol on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: A meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials.  https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/6/1510/4577489

10. Leproult, R., et al. (2015). Beneficial impact of sleep extension on fasting insulin sensitivity in adults with habitual sleep restriction.  https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/5/707/2416915

11. Simental-Mendía, L. E., et al. (2016, September). A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effects of magnesium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and glucose control [Abstract]. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043661816303085

12. Yu, K., et al. (2014). The impact of soluble dietary fiber on gastric emptying, postprandial blood glucose, and insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes.  http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/23/2/210.pdf

See: Yoga Helps You & Your Baby For Gestational Diabetes

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