3 ways to prevent insulin resistance

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Can you believe it’s already November? Although the holiday season is still a few weeks away, I’ve already noticed some sweet treats showing up in the office. While I work hard to create balance in my life, and I strive to never demonize any food group (moderation is everything!), I’m also aware of the negative impact that refined sugar has on not only my health.

Although excess sugar intake is a major contributing cause of developing insulin resistance, there are a number of other contributing factors, such as genetics, extra body weight, lack of exercise, smoking, and even poor sleep. 

So what is insulin resistance? First, let’s define insulin. Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas that helps glucose enter muscle, fat, and liver cells where it’s used for energy. When your blood sugar rises after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. Then, it’s insulin’s job to lower blood sugar levels to keep it in the normal range.

Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to the insulin hormone, and fail to take glucose from your blood. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin in order for glucose to enter your cells. When cells don’t respond to insulin properly, many people become at risk for diabetes.

Although insulin resistance can have extremely detrimental health impacts, there are simple changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle that help to prevent the condition. Here are my suggestions:

Get daily movement.

Not only does daily movement help your cells become more sensitive to insulin, it also helps to lower your blood sugar, which is an essential part of reducing the risk of insulin resistance. Commit to a regular exercise routine that you enjoy, and make it part of your everyday life!

Regulate your blood sugar.

Foods that are highly processed, such as white breads, pastas, rice, and soda, digest very quickly and can spike blood sugar levels. This puts extra stress on the pancreas, which is responsible for creating the insulin hormone. Here are a few ways to regulate your blood sugar levels:

  • Choose whole foods over processed foods. When you eat processed foods, such as bread, pasta, white rice and soda, you’re blood sugar levels get spiked. This puts extra stress on your pancreas, which is responsible for making the insulin hormone.

  • Choose healthy fats over saturated fats. Healthy fats can slow digestion and provide essential fatty acids. Some examples of healthy fats to include are nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocados and olive oil. 

  • Eat protein at every meal. Protein helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, and helps to normalize your blood sugar levels.

  • Include spices and herbs. Cinnamon, adaptogenic herbs, cloves, oregano and sage can all help to lower blood sugar levels.

Improve your sleep.

From around 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., your blood sugar levels naturally rise. In a healthy person, insulin can stabilize the spike in blood sugar by having the muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb the glucose. For those who have insulin resistance, their insulin cannot absorb the excess glucose, meaning they can’t stabilize their blood sugar levels. To reduce your chances of insulin resistance, make sleep a priority. Here’s how:

  • Turn off your screens. As difficult as it can be to disconnect from technology, the light emitted from screens can disrupt your body’s natural biorhythm, or internal ‘clock.’

  • Read more. Try reading a novel for 30 minutes before bed instead of automatically turning to Netflix or your Instagram feed. Research shows that reading can exponentially improve your ability to reduce stress levels. By starting a bedtime reading routine, your body can begin recognizing it as a signal to wind down and go to sleep.

  • Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol. When insulin levels are unable to keep up with the amount of sugar in your blood, your sleep becomes disrupted. By eliminating dessert, coffee or alcohol before bed, you can help to lower your blood sugar, and in turn sleep more restfully. 

  • Incorporate natural supplements. Try using melatonin, magnesium, gaba, and vitamin D to calm your nervous system and improve your sleep.

Riley Webster