Eating To Combat Insulin Resistance
When eating to combat insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity, the focus should be on plenty of unprocessed, whole foods.
Highly processed foods with simple sugars, such as white bread, cakes, cookies, and ice-cream spike blood sugars quickly, and over time, lead to insulin resistance.
Additionally, foods high in saturated fats have been shown to worsen insulin resistance, like sausage, bacon, cheese, and butter.
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Can Insulin Resistance Be Reversed
The answer to this isnt as cut and dry as one would hope. It is possible to become more sensitive to insulin, but insulin resistance can really only be reversed in those who are overweight or obese. Insulin resistance in someone who is overweight or obese can be reversed with weight loss, says Dr. Lonier. She also says there is a genetic component, too. Meanwhile, Dr. Bendix agrees, stating that insulin resistance is usually secondary to obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits. Though he does say insulin resistance can occur due to some medications such as steroids and psychotropics use for psychiatric disorders. If you believe one of these medications might be causing insulin resistance, its best to discuss it with your medical team before stopping the use of any medications.
So for the most part, your best bet to combat insulin resistance is to strive to maintain a normal weight and lead an active lifestyle.
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Can You Reverse Insulin Resistance
On the bright side, there are ways you can help improve insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance:
Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Exercise is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reverse insulin resistance.
Lose weight, especially around the middle. Losing weight around the abdomen not only improves insulin sensitivity but also lowers your risk of heart disease.
Adopt a high-protein, low-sugar diet. Protein helps keep your bodys blood sugar levels stable, whereas high-sugar diets can cause spikes in blood sugar that only make insulin resistance worse. Even though being insulin resistant doesnt necessarily mean you have diabetes, following a meal plan recommended by the American Diabetes Association can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Insulin Blood Sugar And Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin is a key player in developing type 2 diabetes. This vital hormoneyou cant survive without itregulates blood sugar in the body, a very complicated process. Here are the high points:
- The food you eat is broken down into blood sugar.
- Blood sugar enters your bloodstream, which signals the pancreas to release insulin.
- Insulin helps blood sugar enter the bodys cells so it can be used for energy.
- Insulin also signals the liver to store blood sugar for later use.
- Blood sugar enters cells, and levels in the bloodstream decrease, signaling insulin to decrease too.
- Lower insulin levels alert the liver to release stored blood sugar so energy is always available, even if you havent eaten for a while.
Thats when everything works smoothly. But this finely tuned system can quickly get out of whack, as follows:
- A lot of blood sugar enters the bloodstream.
- The pancreas pumps out more insulin to get blood sugar into cells.
- Over time, cells stop responding to all that insulintheyve become insulin resistant.
- The pancreas keeps making more insulin to try to make cells respond.
- Eventually, the pancreas cant keep up, and blood sugar keeps rising.
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What New Research Is Being Conducted On Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance has gained awareness and significance, in its own right, as a contributor to the metabolic syndrome. Timely intervention can delay the onset of overt type 2 diabetes. Future studies must assess longer intervals than existing research to determine the duration for treatment to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and related complications.
Lifestyle changes are clearly important to delay the development of type 2 diabetes in individuals with insulin resistance. Lifestyle changes are the primary recommendation for prevention of diabetes in high-risk individuals. Metformin is the only drug recommended by guidelines for patients at highest risk. Education about these changes must be directed to all groups at risk for type 2 diabetes. Childhood obesity is epidemic and on the rise in developed countries. Changes must be made in homes and school cafeterias to ensure healthier nutrition.
If I Have Insulin Resistance Does That Mean I Have Diabetes
Insulin resistance is not the same thing as diabetes. Instead, it is a risk factor for diabetes. Just because you have the risk factor does not mean that you will always develop the condition.
However, your risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with insulin resistance. Your pancreas responds to insulin resistance by trying to make more insulin. However, over the span of10 to 15 years, your pancreas becomes less able to keep up with the extra insulin production. This leads to high blood sugar levels and, often, a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
For this reason, if you have Type 2 diabetes, you often have insulin resistance as well.
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Homeopathic Remedies For Insulin Resistance
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What Medications Treat Insulin Resistance
Metformin is a medication used for treating type 2 diabetes. It exerts two actions to help control blood glucose levels. Metformin prevents the liver from releasing glucose into the blood, and it also increases the sensitivity of muscle and fat cells to insulin, allowing them to remove more glucose from the blood. By these actions, metformin lowers blood insulin levels because lower blood sugar levels tell the pancreas to put out less insulin.
Metformin is a reasonably safe medication when used in the proper population. Though occasionally associated with gastrointestinal side effects, metformin is usually well tolerated. While no FDA-approved drugsexist to prevent type 2 diabetes or to treat pre-type 2 diabetes , the American Diabetes Association has recommended that metformin be the only drug considered for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
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What Does It Mean To Be Insulin Resistant
Both of insulins primary jobs require your cellsspecifically, the insulin receptors on your cellsto respond to insulin. But for several reasons, your cells may stop responding to insulin as well as they should. In other words, instead of being sensitive to the effects of insulin, they become resistant to the effects of insulinhence, the name insulin resistance. When cells become insulin resistant, sugar stays in your bloodstream, which can lead to high blood sugar.
Creating A Lifestyle That Supports Healthy Insulin Sensitivity
If you have any of the symptoms listed above or are curious about being tested for insulin resistance, please reach out to us at TCIM to schedule an appointment. Our Functional Medicine Physicians and Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioners would be happy to help you manage and reduce insulin resistance, and lower your risk of developing diabetes. We are here to talk through the diets, supplements, and lifestyle changes available and help you create and incorporate a plan that brings you to ideal health. It is our joy to assist you in creating sustainable lifestyle changes that will bring you real health.
Jonathan Vellinga, M.D.is an Internal Medicine practitioner with a broad interest in medicine. He graduated Summa cum laude from Weber State University in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and completed his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from medical school, he completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Michigan. Dr. Vellinga is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine.
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What Are The Causes Of Insulin Resistance
There are genetic factors that can contribute to the development of insulin resistance, including a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, but lifestyle choice can play a major role, specifically carrying excess weight with the extra pounds accumulating in the abdomen . However, insulin resistance can also occur among thin people and present the same risks for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes as it does among the overweight.
Additional Signs Of Metabolic Syndrome
According to the National Institutes of Health,7 in addition to excess abdominal fat , if you have two or more of the following , you likely have metabolic syndrome, which creates insulin resistance:
- High triglycerides. Levels of 150 or higher, or taking medication to treat high levels of these blood fats.
- Low HDL cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein levels below 50 for women and 40 for men or taking medication to raise HDL levels.
- High blood pressure. Readings of 130/85 mmHg or higher, or taking medication to control high blood pressure.
- High fasting blood sugar. Levels of 100 to 125 mg/dl or over 125 , or taking medication to treat high blood sugar.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Insulin Resistance
If youve been diagnosed with insulin resistance or conditions related to insulin resistance, its important to see your healthcare provider regularly to make sure your blood sugar levels are in a healthy range and that your treatment is working.
If youre experiencing symptoms of high blood sugar or prediabetes, contact your healthcare provider. They can run simple tests to check your blood sugar levels.
If you have a family history of diabetes or conditions that can cause insulin resistance, talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of developing insulin resistance.
How To Reverse Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance can be reversedalthough some doctors prefer to use the word controlled or managedand the most effective ways are with lifestyle changes.
- Eat a plant-based, insulin resistance diet rich in things like whole grains, beans, legumes, and vegetables. One study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that adhering to a plant-based diet, even after the researchers adjusted for things like body mass index and certain lifestyle factors, lowered the risk of developing insulin resistance. A vegetarian diet would be good, Dr. Reichert states. And a vegan diet is even better. And if you do want to eat meat, it definitely should be lean.
- Lose weight if you need to. One study shows that even a modest weight loss of 10 pounds or so can reduce insulin resistance in overweight individuals. In related research, subjects in the NIH-funded Diabetes Prevention Program who lost just 5% to 7% of their starting weight reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58%.
- Exercise. Research shows that one single bout of aerobic exercise can improve insulin resistance by 50% for up to 72 hours. Aim for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
- Get adequate sleep. The CDC recommends at least seven hours a night for health and well-being.
- Quit smoking and/or vaping.
Some of the drugs frequently prescribed for insulin resistance include:
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Whats The Best Insulin Resistance Diet
If youre looking for an eating plan that closely follows the guidelines and foods mentioned, the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best.
The main characteristics of eating a Mediterranean diet are typical of a balanced diet and include:
- High unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 150g / ¾ cup tomatoes, roughly chopped
- handful pitted black kalamata olives
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 50g / ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- small bunch mint leaves, chopped
- juice and zest ½ lemon
- 300ml / 1 ¼ cups hot vegetable stock
- 200g can / 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 200g can / 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 50g / ¼ cup frozen broad beans
- zest and juice ½ lemon
- coriander & bread to serve
Dinner: Spicy Mediterranean Beet Salad
- 1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
- mint leaves, chopped, to serve
Causes And Risk Factors Of Insulin Resistance
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome or Cushings disease
- With a family history of type 2 diabetes
- With a personal history of gestational diabetes
- Over the age of 45
- Who are Hispanic, African American, Native American, or Asian American
- With a waist circumference larger than 40 inches or larger than 35 inches
- With a history of high blood pressure or high triglycerides
The risk factors for insulin resistance are similar to the risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. But lifestyle changes can help your body use insulin properly, which can reduce your risk of diabetes.
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Do You Have Insulin Resistance
How do you find out if youre insulin resistant? No one test will tell you, but if you have high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides , high LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol, your health care provider may determine you have insulin resistance.
Important note: Type 1 diabetes is different its thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction . People with type 1 diabetes dont make enough insulin and need to take it to survive.
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What Is The Conventional Treatment
Weight loss and exercise are considered the best treatments for restoring the bodys ability to respond to insulin normally. Since smoking contributes to insulin resistance, quitting is recommended to bring the condition under control .
The FDA has not approved any drug specifically for the treatment of insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. However, in an effort to lower blood glucose levels and restore the bodys normal response to insulin, physicians may prescribe drugs normally used to treat type 2 diabetes. These include two classes of pharmaceuticals, known as biguanides and thiazolidinediones, that sensitize muscle and other tissues to the effects of insulin. Metformin can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes in those with insulin resistance but is not as effective as losing weight and increasing activity. Other medications used for diabetes that act by different mechanisms may also be prescribed. These include alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which restrict or delay the absorption of carbohydrates after eating, resulting in a slower rise of blood glucose levels, as well as sulfonylureas and meglitinides, which act directly on the pancreas and are sometimes prescribed to increase insulin production.