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Diabetes Care: Tips to Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Here are natural ways to keep insulin sensitivity in check.

Published
Diabetes
3 min read
Researchers engineer insulin-producing cells to help control diabetes
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Insulin is an essential horomone that keeps your blood sugar levels in check.

It is produced in the pancreas and helps in the transfer of glucose from the blood to the cells to produce energy. When you have diabetes, your cells become resistant to insulin hormones and do not use them effectively to produce energy.

This results in low energy levels or fatigue and increase in the blood sugar level since there is no transfer of sugar from the blood to the cells. This becomes harmful because high blood sugar can damage the nerves and organs in the body.

Insulin sensitivity is a condition in which cells become resistant to insulin.

But there are ways to keep insulin sensitivity in check and maintain blood sugar levels naturally.

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Get a Good Night's Sleep

A goodnight's sleep cannot be replaced by any food or medicine. It is important for overall health, and helps keep infections, heart diseases and type-2 diabetes at bay.

According to the US NIH, lack of sleep or improper sleep schedule leads to an increase in insulin resistance resulting in a spike of blood sugar levels. Less number of sleeping hours reduces insulin sensitivity but you can reverse your insulin sensitivity if you catch up on sleep and maintain it in the longer run.

Be More Active 

According to the US NIH, regular exercise and an active lifestyle can improve insulin sensitivity. It promotes the transfer of glucose into the muscles for storage that reduces the blood sugar levels automatically increasing the insulin sensitivity.

The effect lasts for about 2 to 48 hours depending on the intensity of the workout.

According to the PubMed Central, 60 minutes of medium-intensity cycling on a machine can improve insulin sensitivity for 48 hours. Resistance training is also beneficial for insulin sensitivity. A combination of resistance training and aerobic can be a fun and more effective way to increase insulin sensitivity.

Take Less Stress

Stress affects your body mentally as well as physically. Stress disrupts the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels. Whenever you are under stress, your body goes into a 'flight or fight state' and it results in the release of stress hormones like cortisol and glucagon.

These hormones breakdown the glycogen, a form of sugar molecules into glucose which enters the blood stream further increasing the blood sugar levels. According to the US NIH, increase in stress hormones reduces insulin sensitivity resulting increase in insulin resistance.

Yoga, exercise, meditation and sleep can help you fight stress and maintain your stress hormones.

Eat Slouble Fiber

The foods have mainly two types of fibers: soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fibers absorb water to form a gel like substance that keeps moving down the digestive system slowly making the person feel full for long.

These fibers help maintain cholesterol levels and curb appetite.

According to the US NIH, there is a link between soluble fibers and reduced insulin resistance. Double fibers keep the gut healthy which also improves insulin sensitivity. Foods like legumes, oatmeal, flaxseeds, sprouts and oranges contain high amount of soluble fiber.

Cut Down On Carbs

Foods rich in carbs are the main reason for a spike in blood sugar levels. Carbs are broken down into glucose which increases the blood sugar levels even more.

According to the US NIH, a diet low in carbs helps improve insulin sensitivity because it prevents the pressure on the pancreas to remove extra sugars in the blood that was th result of breaking down of carbs. Carbs with low-glycemic index are best because they take time to be broken down and include foods like brown rice, quinoa, potatoes.

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Use More Herbs and Spices 

Herbs and spices have been used as medicines in India since ages and it was later that people started using it in cooking to improve the taste.

According to the US NIH, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, ginger and garlic are high in soluble fiber which makes them reduce insulin resistance.

There are various ways to include them in your diet either while cooking, green tea, kadhas or in baked breads.

Avoid Added Sugars 

There are two groups of sugars: natural sugars, and added sugars found in the processed foods.

Natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables which are also nutritious. But added sugars are the table sugar or corn syrup which are made of fructose and sucrose respectively.

According to the US NIH, fructose can increase insulin resistance in the diabetic people and reduces the insulin sensitivity of liver as well.

That is why it is better to replace the cravings of pastries, candies, cookies with the fruits.

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