Foods from Your Kitchen That Help Fight Insulin ResistanceAugust 3, 2018
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone in the body that helps with the uptake of glucose by the cells and also maintainsits normal levels. This hormone is produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin resistance is a condition wherein the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of the insulin. In other words, the normal response given to insulin is reduced. As a result, a higher amount of insulin is required to have a proper effect and the pancreas tries to compensate by producing more insulin.
Due to insulin resistance, the pancreas produces more insulin, until the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient insulin for the body’s needs, leading to a rise in blood sugar. Insulin resistance can slowly lead to type 2 diabetes. People with insulin resistance are often diagnosed at a prediabetic stage. Changes in diet and lifestyle can help reduce insulin resistance and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
What foods can help fight insulin resistance?
The need for insulin in the body can be reduced by eating foods with low glycemic index (GI). The advantage of foods with the low GI is that they are digested slowly and do not raise blood sugar and help maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Following is a list of foods that you can eat to lower your insulin resistance and prevent diabetes.
- Tons of vegetables: Vegetables have low calories and are rich in fiber, and thus are an ideal diet for people trying to manage their blood sugar levels. The best option is to take the dark green, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. These are low in carbohydrates and packed with nutrients. However, avoid eating starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas.
- Plenty of fruits: Fruits contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is best to go for fruits that are high in fiber such as apple, berries, bananas, grapes, plums, and peaches. Avoid canned fruit with added syrups and fruit juices as they can quickly raise blood sugar levels.
- High fiber diet: Try eating whole grain foods as they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, choose healthy, whole, and unprocessed food items. Examples of some foods rich in fiber include oats, oatmeal, barley, lentils, beans, buckwheat, flaxseeds, and quinoa.
- Eat lean protein: Studies have shown that adequate intake of protein in the diet is important for people with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes as proteins are neutral with regard to lipid and glucose metabolism. Lean protein foods such as organic chicken, wild fish, egg whites, lentils, yogurt, almonds, low cheese, plants such as beans, lentils, and nut butter. Avoid protein sources that are loaded with fats such as beef, lamb, and pork.
- Healthy fats: Research has shown that the type of fatty acids consumed in the diet is more important than the total fats in the diet. People with insulin resistance should take unsaturated fats in place of saturated and trans fat. People with insulin resistance should increase the consumption of omega-3-fatty acids. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, white fish, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, egg yolks and natto.
- Eat dairy: Studies have shown that intake of dairy products leads to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This is because of the role of dairy products in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Scientists have shown that trans-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter may significantly reduce the risk of insulin resistance and health issues related to it, such as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It is best to go for organic products, sheep or goat milk, raw cheese, and kefir.
Apart from these dietary changes, there are certain food products commonly available in the kitchen that can specifically help in fighting insulin resistance. These include:
- Herbs and spices: Herbs and spices including fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, and garlic have shown very promising results in improving insulin sensitivity. Fenugreek seeds are rich in fiber, which makes insulin more effective. They can be eaten as a whole or an extract or even baked into bread. Turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It decreases insulin resistance by reducing free fatty acids and sugar in the blood. Ginger contains gingerol that makes sugar receptors on the cells more available, increasing sugar uptake. Garlic increases insulin sensitivity and also improve insulin secretion.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon helps decrease insulin resistance by increasing glucose transport into the cells and even mimics insulin to increase sugar uptake from the blood.
- Apple cider vinegar: Vinegar helps decrease insulin resistance by reducing blood sugar and improving the effectiveness of insulin. It also helps delay the release of food from the stomach into the intestines, giving the body more time to absorb sugar into the bloodstream.
- Green tea: Green tea is an excellent beverage for patients with type 2 diabetes or those who are at risk of it. Studies have shown that drinking green tea can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar. These beneficial effects of green tea are believed to be due to a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) present in it.
Insulin Resistance in Women
It is important to maintain a proper and healthy diet to prevent and fight insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has multiple adverse effects on health, especially in the case of a woman from puberty to pregnancy to the menopause. Womenare at a risk of a variety of conditions such as hypertension, hyperglycemic disorders, and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
With a very demanding life, full of pressure and responsibilities, women need to take care of their diet to prevent the increased risk of several conditions, including osteoporosis, weaker bones, gallbladder disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes, and hypertension during pregnancy. Here is a great nutritional guide for women that they can follow for the prevention of specific risks.
Certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight, increasing physical activity. and avoiding eating late at night can also help fight insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. However, dietary changes are a must to prevent the risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.