Five Natural Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance

Five Natural Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you know that your body has trouble regulating blood sugar levels. This is because the cells of your body no longer respond properly to the hormone called insulin, creating a condition called insulin resistance. When your body is resistant to insulin, your cells cannot properly absorb sugar from the blood stream, so your blood sugar levels remain high- especially after meals.

Chronically high blood sugar levels can increase your risk of damage to many body systems, including your heart and blood vessels, nerves, kidneys, and eyes. It is important to do all that you can to maintain good control over your blood sugar levels. The good news is, you can minimize insulin resistance with nutrition and lifestyle changes! Here are 5 ways to minimize insulin resistance and help improve your blood sugar levels:

1. Build more muscles. Resistance training, like weight lifting and bodyweight exercises, can help you increase your muscle mass, making your body more sensitive to insulin. Maximize the effects by including your gluteus maximus often called the glutes- the biggest muscles in your body. Strengthen them by doing some squats or leg lifts. You don’t have to be at a gym to do squats. You can perform them as chair exercises. Stand, then sit down, but before your bottom touches the chair stand up again. Start with 10 and work your way up. Always research the best form for knee and ankle position with chair squats to avoid injuries. Try to work your muscles two or more days a week. Include legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. Start with very light weights and always make it a priority to use proper form with each repetition. The great thing about resistance training is that it can be done just about anywhere, even with no equipment! Squeeze in some reps during commercial breaks while watching TV, or designate 10-15 minutes every other day for strength training! You can set an alarm on your phone to remind you of your commitment.

2. Cut back on the wrong types of carbohydrates. When it comes to grain products such as bread, pasta, rice, choose WHOLE GRAINS as much as you can. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Buy 100% whole grain bread and pasta, and brown rice.
  • Instead of sugary cereals, try whole grain cereals or whole oatmeal with out added sugar.
  • Limit your consumption of sugary snacks and dessert such as brownies, cakes, and ice cream. Even “healthy” desserts like whole grain brownies are loaded in sugar. Try to save these treats for special occasions, and stick with a small slice. Also watch out for hidden sugar in crackers, pretzels or sauces.
  • Read the nutrition label. Aim to buy whole grain products with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, that avoid or limit added sugar.

3. Spread your carbs throughout the day. Since most of the sugar that ends up in your blood stream comes from carbohydrates, it is wise to spread them out throughout the day. Aim to eat every 4-5 hours, and be sure to incorporate appropriate carbohydrate portions in every meal. Aim for 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal, depending on your activity levels, age, gender, and more. If you don’t know what your recommended serving of carbs per meal is, speak to your doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist, nurse, or certified diabetes educator.

4. Watch portion sizes. We have gotten so used to eating big portions of carbohydrates and protein, with very little or no vegetables! Try this when you are plating your next meal. Look at your plate and aim for this half to have non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, tomato slices, lettuce, carrots). Boost healthy fats and choose lean proteins. Choose the right whole grain carbohydrates in smaller amounts.  Always adjust your carbohydrates based on your individual response to carbohydrate and include post prandial blood glucose measurements as part of the equation. 

5. Exercise. Cardiovascular exercising can sensitize the cell’s ability to take in glucose, reversing the insulin resistance! If your blood sugar is high after a meal, go for a walk to help bring it back down. You can also try dancing around your living room, or doing some weight resistant exercises. Anything to get your blood pumping and muscles working!

Try utilizing these lifestyle techniques in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you manage your insulin resistance and keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Article was edited on January 18, 2016 to help clarify the language in number 4 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • bettyboo
    1 year ago

    I’m 77 and just diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. I’ve read on what’s good and not good to eat for Diabetes, friends, etc. have advised and I become more confused each day, One article says tomatoes turn sugary in your body, don’t eat, another one says ‘eat tomatoes’, one says make your own smoothies, another says ‘not good.’ I’m trying to lose weight and exercise more & eat healthy, yet my glucose reading read 6 pts higher than the last one even eating healthy foods, I feel it’s time to see a nutritionist and getting on a ‘new’ diet is hard at my age after yrs of eating what I wanted. I also read ‘fat free’ and ‘sugar free’ are NOT good for diabetics. Talk about being confused! It seems everyone has a different opinion and approach on diabetes and what’s good and what’s not,

  • Margot moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi bettyboo,

    We hear you; it can be very overwhelming, especially when newly diagnosed! I am glad that you are reading and asking questions – that’s the best thing to be doing! We have tips here as well for newly dianosed: https://type2diabetes.com/living/four-tips-on-being-newbie/

    As bodies are different by person, different diets, medications, etc. may work differently for people, and bring about different reactions; it is important to work with your doctor and/or dietitian or nutritionist to find the best way of managing for you personally. Seeing a nutritionist is a great idea; and, they can help you transition to a new diet and make it as easy as possible as well. A certified diabetes educator can also be a great help! And, you may find this article on nutrition label claims such as “fat free” and “sugar free” helpful: https://type2diabetes.com/nutrition/what-everyone-ought-to-know-about-nutrition-label-claims/

    Thinking of you!

    Best,
    Margot, Type2Diabetes.com Team Member

  • Rc62
    2 years ago

    I’am 62 still very active, still working ! I do lots of walking at work and at home! Bike riding but not much weight resistance! Sugar always high in the morning! Average sleep 5 to 6 hrs! Still trying to figure out my diet! I eat oatmeal, 1 or 2 eggs in the morning! Flaxseed bread! I take 3 different meds and vitamins !

  • Margot moderator
    2 years ago

    Wow! It sounds like you’re doing a lot – that’s so great! Thanks for sharing and being a part of our community! If you’d like to look at our diet resources we have a whole section on the site! https://type2diabetes.com/diet-nutrition/. And many recipes! Oatmeal and eggs are both great!

    Best,
    Margot, Type2Diabetes.com Team Member

  • ScottS
    3 years ago

    What a Crock of BS on Insulin resistance! Not one thing other than weight loss decreases resistance (adipose induces resistance, hence the link between type 2 and obesity) Everything listed such as increased muscle mass and exercise simply reduces Blood sugar levels, and until the body fat is reduced insulin resistance is not decreased. Blood sugar is just used more than at a sedate life style.
    Writing to write, but with no real knowledge of the subject is not a noble endeavor, it is just spreading lies and misleading the uninformed.

  • Kelly McNamara moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Scott,

    I wanted to reach out with a note from the author: “By building more muscle mass, you’re more metabolically active and this will help with weight loss. Muscle is metabolically active. You’re decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass through resistance training which is why it’s so important! By cutting back on the wrong type of carbohydrates you’re less likely to over eat – think potato chips vs. an apple or french bread vs 1/3 cup of quinoa. Which one are you more likely to over indulge in? So the article isn’t saying eat more carbs, it’s saying choose the right kinds when you do so you don’t overeat leading to weight gain. Some individuals eat too much carbs at one meal instead of balancing them out. This is why it says to spread them out. As far as portion size, we know they have greatly increased over the years! Even our plate size has increased. See this helpful tutorial: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/portion-distortion.htm and http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/discoveries/large-plate-mistake Lastly exercise does help with insulin resistance. These choices will either help replace non-nutrient choices (refined foods) which can lead to overeating, or improve muscle mass (resistance training) to lower body fat mass.” I hope this is helpful. Thanks for being a part of the community!

    Best,

    Kelly, Community Manager

  • Dana
    3 years ago

    I am shocked at the dietary recommendations in this article. I am a Type 2 diabetic and don’t see how eating brown rice, whole grain bread/tortilla, potatoes, brown rice, cereal or oatmeal is healthy. I assure you that if I increased my carbs to 75% of my caloric intake, I would be sick as hell and my blood sugar levels would be extremely high.

    I would never use cooking oils because they are toxic and lead to inflammation. Healthy sources of fat come from butter, beef, eggs, coconut oil, avocados, oily fish, cheese, heavy cream and chicken.

    Low fat cheese? Why? If the fat is removed, it is usually replaced with garbage. Full fat dairy is a great source of nutrition that does not affect blood sugar levels.

  • ScottS
    3 years ago

    replacing equal amounts of carbs with nondigestible carbs can help, BUT this hogwash is way off. One of the biggest issue we Type 2 sufferers face, with our insulin resistance is our body reads that our cells are not getting useable carbs so our livers start making even more. This is why when someone with type 2 gets “regulated” we commonly see a massive weight loss. the excess blood glucose from the liver is reduced, and no longer converted to body fat. When we are faced with bad dietary advice, it gets even worse and throws te liver into overdrive shooting the bg levels out of this world…

  • 49er
    3 years ago

    Totally agree Dana. I am absolutely stunned that RDs continue to provide this type of advice when it is clear that for many people with diabetes, even a small amount of carbs can cause a huge spike in BS.

    I haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes but suspect I have metabolic issues. Recently, a regular serving of plain oatmeal spiked my BS 78 points. Like you, if I followed the dietary recommendations in this article, I would not be very healthy either.

    It is very frustrating needless to say.

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