Many of us have heard of insulin, but few are aware of its importance in our bodies. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate the amount of sugar in our bloodstream.
Insulin also plays a role in how our bodies use and store energy from food. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin, meaning the pancreas has to produce more to keep blood sugar levels in check.
Therefore, if you’re looking to improve your insulin sensitivity, there are several strategies you can try. In this article, we’ll discuss how to improve your insulin sensitivity and the importance of doing so.
Several Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Here are some ways you can improve insulin sensitivity…
1. Move your body as much as possible
Exercise helps to improve the body’s insulin sensitivity by stimulating glucose uptake and utilizing it as an energy source. This helps to reduce the amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream and increases the body’s ability to use insulin to process glucose. Additionally, exercise helps to reduce stress levels, which leads to an improvement in your insulin sensitivity. And, by exercising daily, you’ll lose body fat.
By engaging in regular physical activity, people with diabetes can also help to maintain healthy insulin sensitivity. This can help reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications such as stroke, heart attack, and blindness. Luckily, there are many options where you may get the necessary fitness tips you may need on your journey. However, it is essential to speak to a doctor before beginning an exercise program, as some conditions may require special precautions or modifications.
Some exercises you could try are:
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is a type of exercise that involves switching between brief bursts of vigorous activity and rest intervals. Studies show that HIIT can improve insulin sensitivity by up to 24 percent.
- Resistance Training: Resistance training helps to increase muscle mass, which can help improve insulin sensitivity.
- Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, and biking can increase insulin sensitivity by up to 30 percent.
- Yoga: Yoga can help improve insulin sensitivity by increasing muscle tone and improving flexibility.
2. Fix up your diet
Changing your diet is often considered one of the most challenging lifestyle changes you can make. It involves transforming your entire diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, changing your eating habits requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and determination. Additionally, there are many factors to consider when switching to a healthier lifestyle, and knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on actions you can take now to improve your insulin sensitivity through your diet.
Some ways to improve your diet:
a. Increase your intake of soluble fiber-rich foods
If you’re looking for ways to improve your health and well-being, adding more soluble fiber-rich foods to your diet is an excellent place to start. Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote digestive health. All of this, and more, lead to an improvement in your insulin sensitivity.
Soluble fiber is found in various plant-based foods, including oats, legumes, barley, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, nuts, and seeds. It’s important to be mindful of your daily fiber intake. Too much can cause digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and constipation. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for fiber is 25–30 grams per day for adults.
b. Eat fewer processed and refined foods
Processed and refined foods have become a mainstay of the modern diet. Many people rely on these foods for convenience and overlook their potential health consequences. Eating fewer processed and refined foods is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Processed and refined foods are typically high in unhealthy additives, such as sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These additives can lead to weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and other health problems. Furthermore, such foods also tend to be low in essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So, if you want to follow different insulin-resistance meal plans to keep your condition in check, there are certain foods you should avoid.
Processed foods to avoid to improve insulin sensitivity include:
- White bread, pastries, biscuits, and other baked goods
- Processed meats (sausage, bacon, deli meats, etc.)
- Packaged snacks (chips, cookies, crackers, etc.)
- Sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks, fruit juices, etc.)
c. Include healthy fats and protein into your diet
As the focus on health and nutrition has grown, so has the need for understanding the importance of adding healthy fats and proteins to our diets. Not only do healthy fats and proteins provide the body with essential nutrients, but they can also help us lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and even prevent insulin resistance.
Some of the best healthy fats to add to your diet include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Additionally, you can get some healthy fats from coconut oil and flaxseed oil. All of these fats are packed with beneficial nutrients and can help boost your overall health.
Adding protein to your diet can help keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day. Protein can also help build and maintain muscle, which is vital for strong bones and proper body function. Eating a variety of protein sources is important to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Healthy protein sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and dairy products. In addition to these sources, plant-based proteins such as quinoa, tofu, and tempeh can be great additions to your diet.
3. Work on reducing your stress levels
When we experience stress, the body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels. So, reducing stress should be on your list if you’re wondering how to improve insulin sensitivity.
There are many ways to reduce stress. One of the most important things you can do is to recognize the various signs of stress and take steps to manage it. Make sure to get enough rest each night, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Take time each day to relax and do something that you enjoy. Talking to friends, family, or a counselor can also help to reduce stress. Furthermore, try to focus on the present moment with mindfulness and meditation. Finally, don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day and practice self-care when you feel you need to.
4. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
Take a careful look at your bad habits, such as smoking and too much alcohol. The dangers of smoking and drinking alcohol are well known. Smoking increases your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses. Furthermore, drinking alcohol can lead to physical and mental health problems, car accidents, and other dangerous situations.
Taking the time and motivation to make these changes can be difficult, but the rewards are worth it if you want to improve your insulin sensitivity and overall life.