26 Sep How To Improve Insulin Sensitivity Naturally
Insulin sensitivity is important for overall health, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes. So what is insulin sensitivity? And how can you improve your insulin sensitivity naturally? As a team of nutritionists who specialise in weight loss, we support many of our clients in improving their insulin sensitivity. Here’s what you need to know.
WHAT IS INSULIN?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, an organ located in the abdomen behind the stomach. It plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body. Insulin acts as a key that allows glucose to enter cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for future use.
WHAT DOES INSULIN DO IN THE BODY?
Here’s a breakdown of the key roles of insulin.
Glucose Regulation. After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates from food into glucose, which enters the bloodstream. Elevated blood glucose levels signal the pancreas to release insulin.
Cellular Uptake. Insulin binds to receptors on the surface of cells, particularly muscle, fat, and liver cells. This binding process facilitates the uptake of glucose into these cells from the bloodstream.
Storage and Usage. Once inside cells, glucose can be used for energy production or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for later use. This helps maintain blood sugar levels within a normal range.
Reduction of Blood Sugar. Insulin also reduces blood sugar levels by inhibiting the release of glucose from the liver into the bloodstream and by slowing down the breakdown of glycogen into glucose.
WHAT IS INSULIN SENSITIVITY?
Insulin sensitivity is how receptive your cells are to insulin. In people with type 2 diabetes, there is often a reduction in cells sensitivity to insulin. When cells fail to adequately respond to insulin it can result in a reduced uptake of glucose into cells, leading to an increase of sugar left circulating in the blood stream.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes: This autoimmune disease results in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes are typically diagnosed early in life and require lifelong insulin therapy to manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 Diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. The pancreas may also not produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed later in life and is associated with obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity. Type 2 diabetes can often be well managed through diet and lifestyle changes as well as medication. Doctors typically prescribe medications like Metformin which improve insulin sensitivity and thus reduces blood sugar levels.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE INSULIN SENSITIVITY?
Improving insulin sensitivity is important for overall health, particularly for individuals who have, or are at risk of developing, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Enhanced insulin sensitivity can help your body use insulin more effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. Here are the key strategies we recommend to improve insulin sensitivity:
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage is one of the most effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity. Losing excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, can significantly enhance insulin sensitivity.
Regular Physical Activity. Engaging in regular exercise, including both aerobic (cardio) and strength-training activities, can improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with strength training exercises two to three times per week.
Balanced Diet. Consume a balanced diet based on whole foods, including vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars, as these can contribute to insulin resistance.
Control Carbohydrate Intake. Pay attention to the type and quantity of carbohydrates you consume. A period of time on a very low carbohydrate (keto) diet can be beneficial for improving insulin sensitivity. If you do consume carbohydrates, focus on complex, unrefined carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (GI), which have a lesser impact on blood sugar.
Healthy Fats. Include sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, as they can positively affect insulin sensitivity.
Portion Control. Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating, which can lead to weight gain and decreased insulin sensitivity.
Optimal Sleep. Ensure you get enough quality sleep each night. Lack of sleep can negatively impact insulin sensitivity.
Stress Management. Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or mindfulness, as chronic stress can contribute to insulin resistance.
Hydration. Stay well-hydrated, as dehydration can affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
Moderate Alcohol Intake. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation, as excessive alcohol intake can impair insulin sensitivity.
Monitor blood sugar. If you have diabetes or are at risk of insulin resistance, monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to track changes and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Many people find that using a continuous glucose monitor can help them better manage their blood sugar and improve their insulin sensitivity.
Improving insulin sensitivity through these lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on your overall health and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other related health issues. It’s important to remember that individual responses to these strategies may vary, so working with a healthcare professional can help tailor a plan that suits your specific needs and goals.
WORK WITH US
We are a team of qualified nutritionists who specialise in weight loss. We work with many clients to support them in improving their blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Working with us can support you in overcoming your weight challenges, achieving your desired weight and maintaining it long term. You can use this link to book in for a complimentary call today. This is an opportunity to talk through your challenges with a qualified nutritionist and decide together whether one of our Intelligent Weight Loss programmes is right for you. Or contact us to request a copy of our brochure and we will get back to you soon.
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