Insulin resistance is the first step toward metabolic dysfunction which can increase your risk for a host of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. If you have or are worried about insulin resistance, there’s good news! By understanding it, there are some simple & easy approaches that you can take today to slow, stop, and even reverse the potential effects of insulin resistance!
What Is Insulin Resistance
One of the most important factors in your body’s ability to metabolize nutrients, and function properly, is the hormone known as insulin. This is produced by the pancreas and controls how your body uses and stores blood sugar, commonly referred to as “glucose.”
When our blood sugar is high (right after a meal for example) our pancreas releases insulin, which tells our liver and muscle cells to pull sugar out of the blood for storage. When our blood sugar is in normal range, our pancreas stops producing insulin, which encourages the liver to slowly release the sugar from storage to fuel the rest of the body. If our blood sugar is too high too often (because we’re snacking or drinking sugary drinks), our pancreas is constantly releasing insulin. If insulin is too high for too long, your liver stops listening to it (ie, it becomes ‘resistant’ to insulin). MFN [You know how you can get used to a sound or smell and eventually you stop noticing it? That’s the same thing that’s happening here.]
Insulin resistance, also known as low insulin sensitivity, is when the cells from your liver, fat, and muscle are unable to tap into your glucose stores and, in turn, use as energy for the body. This insensitivity is caused by chronically high insulin . When this happens, the pancreas begins pumping out more and more insulin as a way to compensate. For a time, this works, and your glucose levels are kept in check when your pancreas is able to make enough insulin to support your cells. Over time, though, if too much glucose stays within the bloodstream [due to insulin resistance], the potential risk of pre-diabetes and the development of Type II diabetes could occur.
Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Imbalanced
As we just learned, the main objective of insulin is to control the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and to, ultimately, keep levels “normal.” This is especially key after we eat, when blood glucose levels rise. If this happens rather quickly, and more insulin is released than needed, blood glucose levels drop and we start to feel its effects. If this happens too frequently, though, and high insulin levels remain present, this is when we are at risk for the potential of becoming insulin resistant.
Here are some signs that could indicate a possible blood sugar imbalancement:
- Resistance to weight loss and/or an increase in abdominal fat storage
- Lack of sleep and/or restlessness
- Lack of concentration
- Changes in overall mood
- Brain Fog
- Caffeine, alcohol, and/or nicotine addiction
- Sweating more than usual
How to Reverse Insulin Resistance
The good news – it is possible to reverse insulin resistance by adopting some realistic, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle behaviors! Let’s take a peek at a few ways:
- Intermittent Fasting Benefits for Insulin Resistance: Research shows that alternating between periods of fasting and caloric restriction have shown measurable improvements in individuals with insulin sensitivity. That’s because long periods without food, leads to long periods of low insulin, which gives our cells time to resensitize to insulin. MFN [it’s like when you come home from a long trip and are able to notice smells in your house that you weren’t able to smell while you were home. “Did the house always smell like this?”] By fasting, we are allowing our insulin levels to drop low enough giving our bodies a chance to go into fat burning mode.
[Learn about how to control cravings during fasting interstitial.]
- Eating More Fats & Slow Burning Carbohydrates: Healthy, unsaturated fats are a wonderful addition to your diet as they provide a means of decreasing the rate of digestion, increasing satiety, and supplying the body with essential fatty acids such as heart-healthy Omega-3’s. Some examples include: good quality nuts, nut butters, olives, avocados, and using high quality cooking oils when preparing dishes. In addition, eating slow burning, complex carbohydrates – i.e. whole grains, most vegetables, some fruits, beans & legumes – are ideal for keeping blood sugar levels balanced. With their high fiber content, they absorb slower into the bloodstream, creating less of a blood sugar spike unlike their simple, sugary carbohydrate counterparts (i.e. soft drinks, pastries, candies, artificial sweeteners, added sugar products, etc.).
- Use Stabilizing Supplements: Although there are numerous options which can help, research has shown the following to be proven most effective in reversing insulin sensitivity:
Of course, whenever adding new supplements/medications to what you may or may not be taking, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider.
- Move Your Body Regularly: Regular, physical activity not only makes you feel good but the more lean muscle you have & build, the more calories you will burn at rest. While moving should be part of your daily routine, focus on getting in, at least, 30 minutes of purposeful, physical activity 3 days per week. This can be broken up throughout the day or done all at once.
From utilizing fasting principles & incorporating quality nutrients in your diet, to adding natural supplements [under a doctor’s care,] and focusing on moving MORE, these lifestyle changes are small but mighty efforts to reversing insulin resistance.