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Though these principles are simple, integrating them into your lifestyle can be a big change and can often require guidance and support.
To begin, we recommend watching our Masterclass about how to take immediate control of your diabetes health. Once youve watched that Masterclass, consider joining one of our programs to dramatically improve your diabetes health quickly.
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Mastering Diabetes has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
Adeva-Andany, María M., Julia Martínez-Rodríguez, Manuel González-Lucán, Carlos Fernández-Fernández, and Elvira Castro-Quintela. Insulin Resistance Is a Cardiovascular Risk Factor in Humans. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome 13, no. 2 : 144955. .
Amla Benefits: 12 Reasons To Try Indian Gooseberries. .
Bird, Stephen R, and John A Hawley. Update on the Effects of Physical Activity on Insulin Sensitivity in Humans. BMJ Open Sport Exercise Medicine 2, no. 1 . .
Choi, Chan Hee J, and Paul Cohen. How Does Obesity Lead to Insulin Resistance? ELife 6. .
Explaining Insulin Resistance And How To Reverse It
You may see the phrase insulin resistance a lot these days, especially if you use social media. This condition has been linked to conditions such as prediabetes, weight gain and high cholesterol, and social media influencers and diet purveyors often reference it to promote sometimes-dubious eating plans. But is a three-day meal plan to lower insulin resistance or the addition of a few superfoods into the diet really going to help? Nope. Insulin resistance is a precursor to many chronic conditions, so it needs to be kept at bay with a sustainable exercise and eating plan, not with a silly fad diet.
From the ubiquitous mentions, it may also seem as if every person who is overweight has insulin resistance and as if people who dont have weight issues dont need to worry about it. But thats not necessarily true. Here are the facts about insulin resistance, including what it is, how to know whether you might have it, and how it can be managed.
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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How Can Diet Affect Insulin Resistance
Your diet has a big impact on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Highly processed, high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods require more insulin.
In general, eating foods that have a low to medium glycemic index and limiting foods that have a high glycemic index can help you reverse and/or manage insulin resistance. Eating foods with fiber also helps regulate blood sugar levels because it takes your body longer to digest fiber, meaning your blood sugar levels dont spike as much.
The glycemic index is a measurement that ranks foods containing carbohydrates according to how much they affect your blood sugar levels. The Glycemic Index Foundation classifies the GI of foods as either low, medium or high, with pure glucose generally as a reference at 100:
- Low GI: 55 or less.
- Medium GI: 5669.
- High GI: 70 or greater
High-GI foods generally have a lot of carbohydrates and/or sugar and low to no fiber content. Low-GI foods generally have low amounts of carbohydrates and higher amounts of fiber.
Examples of foods with a high GI include:
- White bread.
- Indigenous people from the continental United States.
- Indigenous people from the Pacific Islands.
Although you cant change certain risk factors for insulin resistance, such as family history or age, you can try lowering your chances of developing it by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Less Risk Of All Disease
This seems like a lofty statement, but evidence supports its truth. Healthy, balanced blood sugar and insulin sensitivity are essential for whole-body health. Insulin resistance increases risk of all chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, Alzheimers disease, Type 2 diabetes, and much more .
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Insulin Resistance In The Bipoc Community
according to a March 2019 study in Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research.according to a systematic review and meta-analysis in Diabetes Care.
- 5 percent of non-Hispanic whites
- 2 percent of Asian Americans
- 7 percent of non-Hispanic blacks
- 5 percent of Hispanics
- 7 percent of American Indians/Alaskan Natives
More on Health Disparities Affecting BIPOC Individuals
Supplements For Insulin Sensitivity
Certain phytonutrients, minerals, and supplements can be useful to support insulin sensitivity
Berberine upregulates an enzyme called AMPK, which stimulates glucose uptake and the use of fats for fuel . This supports a healthy blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity. Berberine is also useful for blood sugar balance in people who have PCOS as well.
Chromium is necessary for proper blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity. Studies show that blood chromium levels are lower in people with type 2 diabetes than those without .
Magnesium is essential for all human health, and plays a critical role in normal blood sugar balance and the actions of insulin. Magnesium deficiency also triggers systemic inflammation that perpetuates inflammation which worsens insulin resistance .
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Prevention Of Insulin Resistance
Making lifestyle changes can help reverse insulin resistance so that your body can respond properly to insulin.
Lose weight.Eat a .
How Do Doctors Diagnose Insulin Resistance And Prediabetes
Doctors use blood tests to find out if someone has prediabetes, but they dont usually test for insulin resistance. The most accurate test for insulin resistance is complicated and used mostly for research.
Doctors most often use the fasting plasma glucose test or the A1C test to diagnose prediabetes. Less often, doctors use the oral glucose tolerance test , which is more expensive and not as easy to give.
The A1C test reflects your average blood glucose over the past 3 months. The FPG and OGTT show your blood glucose level at the time of the test. The A1C test is not as sensitive as the other tests. In some people, it may miss prediabetes that the OGTT could catch. The OGTT can identify how your body handles glucose after a mealoften before your fasting blood glucose level becomes abnormal. Often doctors use the OGTT to check for gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
People with prediabetes have up to a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes over the next 5 to 10 years. You can take steps to manage your prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.
The following test results show Prediabetes2
- A1C5.7 to 6.4 percent
- FPG100 to 125 mg/dL
- OGTT140 to 199 mg/dL
You should be tested for prediabetes if you are overweight or have obesity and have one or more other risk factors for diabetes, or if your parents, siblings, or children have type 2 diabetes. Even if you dont have risk factors, you should start getting tested once you reach age 45.
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What Foods Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Foods that are particularly helpful for people trying to prevent type 2 diabetes and maintain a healthy weight are similar to the low glycemic index foods described above:
- Vegetables and fruits provide fiber and vitamins.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products provide calcium and strengthen bones. Avoid full-fat dairy products, as high-fat foods can worsen insulin resistance.
- Whole-grain products have a lower glycemic index than refined grains and are rich in fiber.
- Nuts contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
- Some fish can be a source of “good” fats, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, or sardines.
- Lean meats or beans are an excellent source of protein.
Several studies have confirmed that weight loss — and even aerobic exercise without weight loss — increases the rate at which muscle cells take glucose from the blood as a result of improved sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin And Insulin Resistance The Ultimate Guide
Insulin is an important hormone that controls many bodily processes.
However, problems with this hormone are at the heart of many modern health conditions.
Insulin resistance, in which your cells stop responding to insulin, is incredibly common. In fact, over 32.2% of the U.S. population may have this condition .
Depending on the diagnostic criteria, this number may rise to 44% in women with obesity and over 80% in some patient groups. About 33% of children and teenagers with obesity may have insulin resistance as well (
Even so, simple lifestyle measures can dramatically improve this condition.
This article explains all you need to know about insulin and insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas.
Its main role is to regulate the amount of nutrients circulating in your bloodstream.
Although insulin is mostly implicated in blood sugar management, it also affects fat and protein metabolism.
When you eat a meal that contains carbs, the amount of blood sugar in your bloodstream increases.
The cells in your pancreas sense this increase and release insulin into your blood. Insulin then travels around your bloodstream, telling your cells to pick up sugar from your blood. This process results in reduced blood sugar levels.
Especially high blood sugar can have toxic effects, causing severe harm and potentially leading to death if untreated.
However, cells sometimes stop responding to insulin correctly. This is called insulin resistance.
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Tip For Reversal #: Avoid Added Sugars
One step you can take to improve insulin resistance is to reduce your intake of added sugars. When comparing the difference between natural sugars vs added sugars, natural sugars are found naturally in foods, such as in fruits, vegetables, and milk. Whereas foods with added sugars have had sugar or sweetener added to them. Foods that can contain added sugars include sodas, juice, candy, bread, flavored yogurts, pastries, cereals, and sauces. Added sugars are often found in the form of table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. These both contain a large amount of fructose, and research has shown that high intakes of fructose can lead to increased insulin resistance. To become more aware of your added sugar intake, start reading nutrition labels – all packaged foods now include added sugar amounts in the labels.
Tip For Reversal #: Lower Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress may contribute to the development of insulin resistance. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the effects of chronic stress in over 700 workers and found that high levels of stress were associated with higher cortisol and insulin resistance. This makes sense since cortisol is our main stress hormone and activates the fight-or-flight response in times of stress. It also elevates blood sugars and insulin in the body.
Find ways to alleviate stress and help manage your stress levels, whether thats exercise, yoga, meditation, mindfulness exercises, or deep breathing.
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Eat More Resistant Starches
Reach for resistant starches, says Kara Landau, RD, of Uplift Food. These are carbohydrates that resist digestion in the small intestine. Sounds confusing, right? These foods actually ferment in the large intestine, acting as a prebiotic, thus increasing the growth of good bacteria in our gut.
So how does this help with insulin resistance? Foods filled with resistant starch are particularly valuable for those who suffer from insulin resistance due to the fact that resistant starches have been shown to help make our cells more responsive to insulin, says Landau.
These foods can aid in blood sugar regulation all while making you feel fuller faster which is particularly important for patients with diabetes, who may have constant cravings for food. To eat resistant starches, youll want to fill your kitchen with cassava, plantains, potatoes, oats, peas, and chickpeas.
Tip For Reversal #: Choose Your Fats Wisely
All fats are not created equal, and certain fats can either improve or worsen insulin resistance. Choosing the right fats can make a difference. A review published in Clinical Nutrition found that a diet high in saturated fats increases insulin resistance, whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats improve insulin resistance. Research also suggests that omega-3 fatty acids counteract insulin resistance due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids.
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Reduce Your Intake Of Added Sugars
Theres a big difference between added sugars and natural sugars.
Natural sugars are found in sources like plants and vegetables, both of which provide lots of other nutrients.
Conversely, added sugars are found in more highly processed foods. The two main types of sugar added during the production process are high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, also known as sucrose.
Both contain approximately 50% fructose.
Many studies have found that higher intakes of fructose can increase insulin resistance among people with diabetes .
The effects of fructose on insulin resistance also appear to affect people who do not have diabetes, as reported in an analysis of 29 studies including a total of 1,005 people who were moderate weight and overweight or had obesity.
The findings showed that consuming a lot of fructose over less than 60 days increased liver insulin resistance, independent of total calorie intake .
Foods that contain lots of added sugar are also high in fructose. This includes candy, sugar-sweetened beverages, cakes, cookies, and pastries.
High intakes of fructose are linked to a higher risk of insulin resistance. Foods that contain high amounts of added sugar are also high in fructose.
Foods That Help Balance Blood Sugar
With Kara Landau RD and Beatriz Mendez del Rio, FDN-P
Fill your kitchen with vegetables, legumes, and resistant starches to have on hand.
Your pancreas produces insulin, an all-powerful hormone that enables your cells to absorb glucose from the foods you eat. When you have insulin resistance however, your cells arent able to effectively utilize the insulin that your pancreas makes. Or, your pancreas may make no insulin at all, which is the case in type 1 diabetes.
When your cells cant actually use the glucose for energy, this leads to high levels of sugar in the blood. When these levels are higher than they should be with the pancreas working over time to release enough insulin this is considered pre-diabetes , a serious condition that occurs in one in three people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . When the pancreas chronically overworks to make enough insulin, you eventually end up with diabetes. Long-term insulin resistance can cause major health issues, such as damage to your organs, eyes, limbs, and muscles.
According to Beatriz Mendez del Rio, FDN-P and health coach, people with insulin resistance should aim to regulate their blood sugar each day, with every single meal. Its not about cutting out a particular food group. Its choosing the right foods from each group that matters.
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Insulin Resistance = Accelerated Aging
Increased insulin resistance is the first step towards prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In fact, type 2 diabetes is caused and defined by severe insulin resistance.
Increased insulin resistance is also associated with an increased risk of many aging-related diseases and symptoms, like heart attacks, hypertension, Alzheimers disease, belly fat, being overweight and having difficulty losing weight, osteoarthritis, macular degeneration, and so on.
When we get older, we automatically become more insulin resistant. Its a part of the aging process. However, you can considerably slow down the pace of insulin resistance. The opposite of insulin resistance is insulin sensitivity. The more sensitive and less resistant your body is to insulin, the healthier. So its very important to be insulin sensitive as long as possible.
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.
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