“Insulin Resistance: How to Reverse It Naturally and Effectively”
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can occur when the body produces insulin but does not respond to it properly, or when the body does not produce enough insulin to properly regulate blood sugar levels.
Better explained, insulin is a special chemical in your body that helps your body use the sugar from the food you eat for energy. It’s like a key that unlocks the door to your body’s cells, so the sugar can go inside and give you energy.
Sometimes, the key doesn’t work as well as it should, and the sugar can’t get inside the cells. This is called insulin resistance. It’s like the lock on the cell door is stuck, so the key can’t unlock it properly.
When this happens, your body has to make more and more insulin to try to get the sugar into your cells. This can make your blood sugar level too high, which can cause problems with your health. Well, what kind of problems you may ask. Great Question!
When there is too much sugar in the bloodstream, it can cause damage to various organs and tissues in the body. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to a range of health problems, including:
- Diabetes: Prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough of it.
- Cardiovascular disease: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Nerve damage: High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves, causing tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet.
- Kidney damage: High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys, leading to chronic kidney disease and even kidney failure.
- Eye damage: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can cause blindness.
- Slow healing: High blood sugar levels can slow down the healing process of wounds, making it harder for the body to fight infections.
Insulin resistance can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, obesity, aging, and certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
It’s also important to note that sudden and drastic changes in carbohydrate intake, especially after a period of low or no-carb dieting, can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and potentially lead to temporary insulin spikes or changes in insulin sensitivity. This can be especially problematic for people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or metabolic disorders.
Insulin resistance CAN be reversed or improved through lifestyle changes, including:
- Eating a healthy diet: A balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. Avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and refined carbohydrates may also be helpful.
- Regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss, which can help reverse insulin resistance. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Getting enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Managing stress: Chronic stress can also contribute to insulin resistance. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can help improve insulin sensitivity.
- Medications: In some cases, medications such as metformin or other insulin-sensitizing drugs may be prescribed to help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.
With lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, some people may start to see improvements in insulin sensitivity within a few weeks or months. However, generally it can take several months to a year or more to reverse insulin resistance with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss. A safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. So, if you need to lose a significant amount of weight, it may take several months to a year or more to reach your goal weight.
In an effort to loose weight quickly a lot of people will resort to eating a low carb, high fat diet. As mentioned before this is not a quick fix and if not sustained can actually make the situation worse. Also, paying attention to the kinds of fats you eat is important.
When we eat foods high in fat, particularly saturated and trans fats, it can lead to the accumulation of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which can interfere with insulin signaling and contribute to insulin resistance.
On the other hand, consuming healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and plant-based oils, can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
If you are insulin resistant and want to gradually increase your carbohydrate intake, one approach that is often recommended is to start with low-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits, and gradually increase the portion size and frequency over time. This approach can help prevent blood sugar spikes and minimize the risk of worsening insulin resistance.
It’s also important to consider the timing and distribution of carbohydrates throughout the day. Eating smaller, more frequent meals that include a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes.
If you’re not sure if you are insulin resistant or not know that insulin resistance often develops slowly over time and may not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, some signs and symptoms that may indicate insulin resistance include:
- Feeling tired or fatigued after meals
- Increased hunger or cravings for sugary foods
- Difficulty losing weight or weight gain around the waistline
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride levels
- Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
- Darkened skin patches, especially around the neck, armpits, or groin
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have risk factors for insulin resistance, such as being overweight or obese, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, or leading a sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can order blood tests, such as a fasting blood glucose test or an A1c test, to check your blood sugar and insulin levels and determine if you have insulin resistance or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Who among us isn’t stressed? Well, guess what? Chronic stress can affect insulin resistance. Stress triggers the release of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase blood sugar levels and insulin resistance over time. When cortisol levels are consistently high, it can lead to insulin resistance and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What about those of you who are working your butt off in the gym only your butt or maybe gut aren’t going anywhere? Over-exercising or intense exercise can also lead to physical stress, which can worsen insulin resistance in some cases. When you engage in intense exercise, it can increase cortisol levels and trigger an inflammatory response, which can make the body more resistant to insulin.
Additionally, over-exercising can cause physical fatigue, which can lead to poor sleep quality, and subsequently increase cortisol levels, which can worsen insulin resistance. This is especially true if the exercise regimen is not balanced with adequate rest and recovery time…Refer to my blog on Rest! My point here, STOP killing yourself in the gym if this is you! Trust me! I learned this the hard way.
Here’s a recipe for a hearty dinner that is great for someone who has insulin resistance:
Garlic Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 bone-in turkey breast (about 2-3 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, and sage)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the turkey breast.
- Place the turkey breast in a baking dish and roast for about 60-75 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- In a separate baking dish, toss together the sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, and red onion with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and caramelized.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard.
- Serve the roasted turkey breast with the roasted vegetables and drizzle with the balsamic-honey glaze.