Insulin resistance refers to a condition in which your body does not respond to insulin. As a result, you end up with too much sugar in your blood. To truly understand the implications of insulin resistance, it is important to know how insulin works.
Insulin is a hormone that tells the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream after you have eaten. If there is an insulin malfunction, the cells don’t absorb glucose. The result is the conversion of glucose into fat.
This means your body would not have the energy it needs to function. At the same time, the pancreas (the insulin manufacturer) sends more insulin to keep signaling to the cells to take in more glucose.
Sometimes more insulin makes the cells resume their normal function. During severe insulin resistance, the cells do not respond. The pancreas would thus be exhausted and could even lead to diabetes.
Some of the signs of insulin resistance include fatigue, acne, high blood sugar, extra-abdominal weight, sugar cravings, and high blood pressure. Most people feel constantly hungry, have skin problems, and difficulty concentrating.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to reverse these symptoms and combat insulin resistance. All involve addressing the preexisting conditions that led to the resistance.
How to Reverse Insulin Resistance
1. Reduce your sugar intake
Sugar is a fundamental component of any insulin-based condition. Too much glucose in your body often increases the demand for insulin. This causes the pancreas to overproduce insulin and thus promotes insensitivity to the hormone.
However, if you don’t have as much glucose in your body, you wouldn’t need too much insulin and resistance may not develop.
Sugar is one of the major sources of glucose. To reverse insulin resistance, reduce your consumption of table sugar and added sugar. The latter could be in sweet foods like cookies but it is also in many processed foods. Refined drinks, processed snacks, ketchup, yogurt, or baked beans all have hidden sugar.
2. Practice mindful eating
Most people develop insulin resistance when they overeat. They cause a malfunction in the brain that doesn’t signal insulin normally.
To reverse this, chew slowly as you eat. Savor the aroma, flavor, and texture of the food. Notice when the sensation of tastiness kicks in and when it reduces. Choose to stop when these emotions reduce.
Also, only eat when you’re hungry. Being mindful also helps to reduce cravings that come when the glucose in your body isn’t being absorbed.
Use these mindful eating strategies to avoid overeating.
3. Try intermittent fasting
Insulin resistance develops because of two key factors. First, it arises from high insulin in the blood. Second, it arises from the high persistence of these high levels. If your body has had these conditions for a long time, it will grow immune to insulin.
Intermittent fasting can break the second condition involving persistence. The strategy involves eating your designated food in a short amount of time. Then you fast for the rest of the day.
The fasting can be 12 hours to 20 hours. For example, you can eat between 7 am to 7 pm then you can fast from 7 pm to 7 am the next day.
This study showed that intermittent fasting helps to reduce insulin levels. As a result, it changes your body’s demand for the hormone. Intermittent fasting resets your system by giving it a break.
4. Eat magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium plays a unique role in insulin sensitivity. Insulin receptors need magnesium to work properly and respond to the hormone.
Additionally, when you have too much insulin, it increases the magnesium extracted by the kidneys thus causing deficiency.
You can minimize these effects by eating foods rich in magnesium. They include green leafy veggies like kale or spinach, legumes, tofu, and raw cocoa.
5. Reduce your carbohydrate intake
If you eat too many refined or simple carbohydrates, you overwhelm the body with glucose. It thus becomes unable to store that glucose. The result is insulin resistance and even susceptibility to diabetes.
If you take fewer carbohydrates (note that you are not completely eliminating them) you would make your system reverse insulin resistance.
6. Improve your sleeping patterns
Insulin is a hormone that works best during the day. Your body cells also respond better to insulin at this time than at night. If you do not get adequate or uninterrupted sleep, you disrupt your circadian clock.
The result is ineffective insulin functioning and hence insulin resistance. Reverse insulin resistance by getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
7. Eat Omega-3 rich foods
Omega 3 is a special type of fatty acid that helps to improve insulin sensitivity. Seafood is an excellent source of this helpful nutrient. Add mackerel, salmon, oysters, herring, sardines, and caviar to your diet.
You may also opt for plant sources like flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts or soybeans. Mackerel and chia have the highest levels of Omega 3 per serving, so eat more of these foods to reverse insulin resistance.
8. Increase your dietary fiber
Dietary fiber helps to promote insulin sensitivity by tempering the speed of digestion. This is especially true for cereals like barley, oats, and whole grains. Vegetables and fruits are also fiber-rich.
When food lacks fiber, glucose is released in a concentrated state and often causes a huge demand for absorption. This puts your insulin on overdrive and can trigger insensitivity, research shows. However, if you eat fiber-rich foods, you slow down this need.
9. Reduce your stress levels
When you are stressed, you trigger a demand for more energy as the body needs it for fighting or fleeing. This exhausts the pancreas which cannot keep up with the demand. Elevated blood sugar thus activates insulin resistance, research reveals.
To reduce stress, try relaxation techniques, be positive, and make peace with events you can’t change.
10. Reduce saturated fat
Saturated fats can be unhealthy when consumed in large amounts. They often come from animal foods like beef, cheese, sausages, bacon, and burgers. Dairy desserts like ice-cream and grain desserts like cookies are major sources too.
If you have too much fat in your body, this blocks the insulin signaling process and thus increases blood sugar. The end result is a vicious cycle of insulin resistance. To reverse insulin resistance, eat less saturated fat in your diet.
11. Substitute saturated fat with unsaturated fat
Unsaturated fats are good fats. They are found in oils, seeds, and nuts. Typical sources include avocado, walnuts, and flax seeds.
You need unsaturated fat because they help to control glucose levels in the body, according to science. When glucose is regulated, then there won’t be a continual need for insulin.
12. Increase exercise
Exercise helps to burn glucose for energy. This means that your insulin would work better. For exercise to help, you need to do both aerobic and resistance training.
Cycling, swimming or cardio should be done alongside weight lifting. Resistance training builds muscles that use up blood sugar even when you are not working out.
Alternatively, you can do these stunningly simple fat-burning workouts for the next 28 days.
Lifestyle changes are a fail-safe and recommended approach to reduce insulin resistance. Consider making changes in your diet by eating fewer carbs, sugar and trans fats. Take more fiber, magnesium, and unsaturated fats.
Be mindful when you eat, reduce the stress in your life and get more sleep. With consistent application of these changes, you are bound to have fewer complications with insulin.