When cells of the body do not respond appropriately to the hormone insulin, resulting in non-utilization of glucose from the blood for energy, it is labeled as Insulin resistance. This leads to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Obesity, Inactive lifestyle, and high carbohydrates DIET are the leading causes of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is becoming increasingly prevalent in adults, and if left unattended can lead to type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease. If there is an increased level of glucose in the blood, insulin production goes up to bring down the glucose level in the blood, a natural feedback mechanism. If one overeats regularly, there will be a need for more insulin to shuttle glucose to the cells. Fortunately, there is a lot one can do to decrease insulin resistance. Lifestyle interventions are more effective in reducing insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes compared to pharmacological interventions.
Let us take a look at some tips to help the body deal with insulin resistance:
Dealing with insulin resistance via natural methods
Lose bodyweight – Losing bodyweight can help lower insulin resistance. The smaller the fat cells, the more sensitive they are to insulin and the body has to manufacture less insulin to shuttle glucose to the cells. It saves the pancreas from fatigue and lowers the insulin levels in the blood, which significantly reduces the health risks. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, losing over 5 percent of body weight reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 60 percent for three years.
Lose belly fat – Excess fat in the belly also referred to as visceral fat, reduces insulin sensitivity, and is mainly responsible for promoting insulin resistance in the liver and muscles. Several studies point to a correlation between excess belly fat and low insulin sensitivity. Unfortunately, there are no proven ways to target fat in the abdominal area in an effort to decrease it. However, if one keeps a check on the overall body weight, the visceral fat in the belly will be under control as well.
Increase fiber uptake – Increased fiber intake is linked to a decreased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Broadly speaking, fiber is categorized as soluble or insoluble. Most food items contain a combination of different types of fibers. Insoluble fiber is a bulking agent that helps prevent constipation. Soluble fiber helps lower the level of blood cholesterol and promoting satiety. Studies have found a link between the intake of soluble fiber and improved insulin sensitivity. Soluble fiber feeds the gut-friendly bacteria and keeps one healthy. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oatmeal, legumes, flaxseeds, Brussels, sprouts, and oranges.
Dealing with insulin resistance via natural methods
Keep a check on mental stress – Mental stress affects the body adversely. Chronic mental stress can upset the blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance, as the body activates the fight or flight response to acute mental stress. This stimulates the production of cortisol and glucagon. Glucagon breaks down stored glycogen, and the sugar is then released into the bloodstream, pushing up the levels of blood sugar. Studies indicate that high levels of stress hormones can reduce insulin sensitivity. Yoga practice is very effective in combating mental stress. If one is a beginner to yoga practice, make sure to practice under the guidance of a trained instructor before the postures are mastered.
Ensure adequate Sleep – Insufficient sleep is linked to a number of health issues, including weight gain, heart disease, compromised immune response, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Deep sleep, which is the most restorative stage of sleep, plays a major role in the regulation of blood sugar levels and maintenance of insulin sensitivity. Getting adequate sleep also helps regulate hormones that stimulate the appetite and also reduces the risk of metabolic dysfunction. Ensure to get at least eight hours of sleep every night to maintain good health. It is highly advisable to avoid exposure to blue light – light from cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices – for at least half an hour before one goes to sleep.
Add herbs and spices to the diet – Fenugreek seeds are rich in soluble fiber, which increases the effectiveness of insulin. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It increases insulin sensitivity by reducing the amount of free fatty acids and blood sugar. Gingerol, the active component of ginger, increases the availability of sugar receptors on muscle cells. Garlic also helps improve the secretion of insulin and has antioxidant properties that help increase insulin sensitivity. Add two teaspoons of cinnamon to the daily diet, which will help reduce both short-term and long-term blood sugar levels.
Authored by Dr H.P Bharathi, Dy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute
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