Best Foods for Insulin Resistance

By October 26, 2019Insulin Resistance

Best Foods for Insulin ResistanceDid you know that insulin resistance is the cause of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes? In fact, insulin resistance is the largest factor to America’s chronic disease epidemic! How about the best foods for insulin resistance? here is everything you need to know!

It usually starts with patients finding out they are insulin resistant. Then insulin resistance develops into pre-diabetes. Unfortunately, once you have developed pre-diabetes it can often lead to type 2 diabetes. Therefore, people who are already insulin resistant need to be extra careful. Otherwise, they could develop type 2 diabetes. 

In order to prevent type 2 diabetes, there are certain diet and lifestyle changes that can be made. If you commit to making these dietary changes, you can improve insulin sensitivity. This will help reduce your insulin resistance and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In this article, we will discuss insulin resistance and what the best foods are to help reverse it. 

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is an important hormone that controls many body functions. It is an important hormone that controls many body functions. However, problems with this hormone are the start of many health conditions. Insulin resistance is caused by an impaired reaction to insulin and elevates the glucose levels in your blood. There are a few common causes for insulin resistance. 

Some of them are:

  • Weight Gain/ Belly Fat
  • Excess Calories/ Overeating
  • High Sugar Intake
  • Inflammation
  • Decreased Physical Activity
  • Gut Health

If you are uncertain if you have insulin resistance, you can use the checklist below to see if you have any of the common symptoms. 

  • Fatigue
  • Tingling in Hands and Feet
  • Frequent Urination
  • Hungry Post Meals
  • Dark Dry Patches on Skin
  • Intense Thirst/ Hunger

If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, you should talk to your primary care doctor about the possibility of insulin resistance. Next we will discuss the best methods for testing insulin resistance.

Best Methods for Testing Insulin Resistance

It is always more accurate to be tested for insulin resistance. A number of tests can help diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. Some of them are:

  • A1C test: This test measures a person’s average blood sugar level over 2–3 months.
  • Fasting blood glucose test: A doctor checks glucose levels after a person fasts for 8 or more hours.
  • Glucose tolerance test: Your blood glucose level is determined before you begin. Then you receive a pre-measured drink. Two hours after you drink it, your blood glucose level is checked again.

Test scoring for the A1C test are:

  • An A1C under 5.7 percent is considered normal.
  • An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent means pre-diabetes.
  • An A1C equal to or above 6.5 percent means diabetes.

Test scoring for the fasting blood glucose test are:

  • Fasting blood sugar levels under 100 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) are considered normal.
  • Levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL indicate prediabetes.
  • Levels equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL mean diabetes.

Test scoring for the glucose tolerance test are:

  • A blood sugar level after two hours of less than 140 mg/dL is considered normal.
  • A result between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes.
  • A blood sugar level of 200mg/dL or higher is considered diabetes.

Healthy Blood Sugar Support

Doctors usually request more than one of these tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis. If your blood sugar levels consistently fall outside of a normal range, it might indicate that your body is becoming resistant to insulin. If your doctor tells you that you are becoming insulin resistant, you need to understand why it is happening. We will discuss that next. 

Physiology of Insulin Resistance

Basically when you have insulin resistance, your cells produce insulin that the cells are resistant to. Therefore, the cells are unable to use it. This leads to high blood sugar. Then the beta cells in your pancreas start increasing their production of insulin. This action further increases your blood insulin level. 

In order to fix this issue, there are several approaches you can take. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that individuals can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes. (10) The most important changes that you can make are to lose weight and increase your physical activity.

In order to lose weight when you are insulin resistant, it is important to change your eating habits and exercise. Next we will discuss why it is important to reverse insulin resistance.

Why it is Important to Reverse Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is very prevalent in America today and it increases your risk for many other chronic diseases. Some of these diseases are:(5)

  • Cancer
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Obesity
  • High Cholesterol
  • Fatty Liver
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Blindness
  • Kidney Failure
  • Retinopathy

As you can see, these are very serious chronic diseases. However, if you can correct your insulin resistance with the proper nutrients then you will reduce your risk of developing them. (8) Next we will discuss the nutrients that are best for insulin resistance.

Keep reading to learn everything about the best foods for insulin resistance.

Best Foods to Eat for Insulin Resistance

Nutrients that help to maintain blood sugar levels are magnesium, calcium, fiber and potassium. Unfortunately, our diets tend to lack those nutrients.(2) Those with insulin resistance need to understand what foods support insulin sensitivity and why they are important. 

Here are some foods that support insulin sensitivity. They also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (7)

  • Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, dark leafy greens, and peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits: lemons, oranges, and limes
  • High-fiber foods: beans and lentils
  • Whole grains: oats and barley
  • Protein-rich foods: lean meats, fish, soy, legumes, and nuts
  • Fish with a high omega 3 fatty acids: salmon, sardines, and herring
  • Foods that contain antioxidants: berries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Water
  • Unsweetened teas
  • Unsweetened yogurt
  • Cinnamon
  • Green Tea

Some of the best choices are non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, dark leafy greens and peppers. In addition, lean meats, fish, soy, legumes, and nuts are very beneficial.(3) Whole grains are also very helpful for insulin resistance. The reason is because complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down. This means they absorb more slowly, which helps to keep blood glucose levels stable. These foods also will make you feel fuller longer. You should always try to eat a plant-based diet if you can. 

Studies reflect that eating insoluble fiber decreases the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.(2) You should try to eat some insoluble fiber with every meal. Some good food sources of insoluble fiber are:

    • Fresh fruits: pears, apples, prunes, dried figs
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Vegetables like leafy greens, squashes, peas
    • Berries
    • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, oats
    • Beans: Lentils, navy beans, kidney beans

Fatty fish are proven to reduce insulin resistance. This is because of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are responsible for reducing insulin levels.

Additionally cinnamon has been proven to be beneficial for insulin resistance. This is because it is loaded with antioxidants. Studies have been done on healthy people and those who were insulin resistant. Both populations results were that cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity.(11) It is suggested that one teaspoon per day of cinnamon may provide other health benefits as well.

Green tea contains high amounts of antioxidants as well. Many studies prove it helps to fight insulin resistance. (12) Researchers reported that green tea was found to significantly lower fasting insulin levels in studies. (13)

Now that we’ve discussed what you should eat, we will discuss what you should avoid.

What to Avoid

Although it is true that simple sugars alone don’t cause diabetes, they do not help. Simple sugars contribute to insulin resistance and poor health overall. (10) One of the worst simple sugars you can consume is high fructose corn syrup. You should also avoid simple carbohydrates that contain glucose, fructose, and sucrose.(4) Some examples of these are candies, cakes, soft drinks, and added sugars. If you don’t already know how to read food labels, you should learn. You will notice that most processed foods are full of added sugars.

Additionally, you will need to make these healthy habits work for you as an individual. There are many different types of foods. People have many different preferences. (1) You may not like something that someone else does. Your diet needs to fit your taste buds and your lifestyle. Otherwise, you won’t stick with it.  Next we will discuss other tips for your success.

Other Tips for Insulin Resistance

You should also increase your activity level with exercise. This is an important step in reversing insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. (9) This change makes a difference. This is because after you exercise, muscles become more sensitive to insulin. The most effective way to increase your fitness level is by doing an exercise that you enjoy doing. Then you should stick to it at least three days a week.(6) Some examples are a 30 minute jog each day, yoga or kickboxing. You should also try to combine cardio exercise with strength training.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now you know about insulin resistance and what you can do to reverse it. The most important thing you can do for your health is to adopt healthy habits. When you do this, it is important to gradually add them in to your life. That way they can become permanent changes for you. If you can commit to a healthier lifestyle than you can help improve insulin sensitivity. Trust us. You’ll thank us later. 

References

  1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18171910
  2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334091/
  3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730354
  4.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4625541/
  5.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2640399/
  6.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587394/ (studies)
  7.  diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy
  8. 10.1093/advances/nmz050
  9. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820526
  11. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17296187
  12. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614112
  13. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23803878