- Insulin sensitivity
- Insulin resistance
- Processed foods
Foods That Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is an essential hormone responsible for regulating levels of blood sugar, and the bodies response to the release of insulin is called insulin sensitivity. When the sensitivity is high, the body will require a small amount of insulin to reduce blood sugar levels. When sensitivity is low, the body may fail to respond to even high levels of insulin, and this labeled as insulin resistance.
Insulin is made by beta cells in the pancreas. When the body’s cells are insulin resistant, they can’t use insulin effectively and the blood sugar level rises as it builds up in the blood. When your pancreas senses high blood sugar, it makes more insulin to overcome the resistance, but this may not improve the situation. Chronic insulin resistance, common in type 2 diabetes, may deplete beta cells in the pancreas. Prolonged high blood sugar can damage nerves and organs, so improving insulin sensitivity to reduce insulin resistance in imperative.
Here are 8 ways to improve insulin sensitivity.
1. Eat More Soluble Fiber
Eating soluble fiber has many health benefits and has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps in forming stool that can easily move through the bowels, while soluble fiber plays a huge role in promoting insulin sensitivity, as shown in a study published in NCBI. Another study showed that women who ate more soluble fiber had significantly lower levels of insulin resistance. Soluble fiber promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut which has been linked to decreased insulin resistance.
Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include legumes, oatmeal, flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, and fruits like oranges.
2. Eat More Colorful Fruit and Vegetables
Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which rid the body of free radicals causing harmful inflammation and insulin resistance.
3. Use Herbs and Spices
A number of spices play a role in promoting insulin sensitivity. They include:
- Fenugreek seeds have high soluble fiber content. A 2001 study concluded that “fenugreek seeds improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type-2 diabetic patients.”
- Turmeric containsan active component called curcumin which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which help to reduce insulin resistance.
- Ginger contains acomponent called gingerol which increases sugar uptake and improves insulin sensitivity.
- Cinnamon is known for its ability to reduce blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity.
4. Drink More Green Tea
Green tea is a choice drink for people with diabetes type 2. Green tea has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels. Green tea also has antioxidants that help to fight off free radicals and many other health benefits.
5. Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar, a key ingredient in apple cider vinegar, could help increase insulin sensitivity by reducing blood sugar and improving the effectiveness of insulin. Vinegar helps to slow gastric emptying hence allowing time for the body more time to absorb sugar. This gives insulin more time to act. Apple cider vinegar can be added to cold salads or drinks.
6. Cut Down on Carbs
Carbs are the main stimulus behind high sugar levels and the production of insulin. Carbs release sugar into the bloodstream when they are broken down, and this sugar is an essential source of energy for the body. When the body breaks down carbs into glucose and releases it into the blood, the pancreas releases insulin to move the glucose from the blood into the cells. Consuming excessive carbs could cause insulin resistance because of the excess glucose from those carbs sparks an overproduction of insulin. Reducing your carbohydrate intake could increase insulin sensitivity. There is no need to eliminate carbs as that will cause other problems. Processed carbs that are likely to trigger insulin resistance include white rice, pasta, and white bread.
7. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats
Trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils that are usually added to processed foods to help them keep for longer and to give them a better taste. Foods that typically contain artificial trans fats include cakes, cookies, pies, doughnuts, and fried fast foods. Artificial trans fats are typically found in more processed foods.
Trans fats have been shown to cause inflammation and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared trans fats unsafe to eat in 2018, however, this directive is yet to be implemented by manufacturers. It is up to you the consumer to scrutinize the ingredient list before buying any processed foods.
8. Reduce Your Intake of Artificial Sugars
Artificial sugars are mostly found in processed foods, and they contain two main types of sugar: high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar known as sucrose. Fructose has been linked to insulin resistance even in people with no diabetes.
Can Supplements Help to Improve Insulin Sensitivity?
The idea of taking natural supplements is a controversial one and may require consultation with your physician. If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance, you may benefit from taking supplements that increase insulin sensitivity. These include chromium, berberine, and magnesium supplements which are linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Another compound, Resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes and other berries also appears to increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
Since supplements can interact with other medication, it is important to consult your doctor before you start taking them.
1. NCBI (2011): Trans Fatty Acids Induce Vascular Inflammation and Reduce Vascular Nitric Oxide Production in Endothelial Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3247279/
2. NCBI (2013): Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708
3. NCBI (2014): The impact of soluble dietary fiber on gastric emptying, postprandial blood glucose and insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901089
4. NCBI (2013): The Role of Gut Microbiota on Insulin Resistance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705322/
5. NCBI (2001): Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11868855
6. NCBI (2014): Effect and mechanisms of action of vinegar on glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and body weight. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25168916