Food Freedom Friday Edition 193 - Managing Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is not an issue to take lightly. It can lead to prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health consequences, including heart, kidney, and cognitive problems.
Through simple dietary and lifestyle changes, you can take control of your blood sugar and manage and even reverse insulin resistance, improving insulin sensitivity naturally
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from harm, injuries, illness, and infection. However, when inflammation turns chronic due to an unhealthy diet, stress, unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental toxins, it can be very disruptive.
Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Eating an anti-inflammatory low carbohydrate diet can be a powerful weapon in reducing this chronic inflammation by stabilizing your blood sugar and lowering insulin resistance.
An anti-inflammatory diet provides your body with a healthy balance of fats, protein, and carbohydrates, while ensuring the necessary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water are present. Nutrient-dense foods that are rich in antioxidants can effectively fight inflammation and free radicals. Research has shown that low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic, or keto diet can effectively reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, help weight loss and reduce many of the symptoms of metabolic problems.
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, GMOs, trans and hydrogenated fats, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods need to be eliminated to lower inflammation and stabilize blood sugar.
They can be replaced with nutrient-dense foods. This would include healthy fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, pasture raised eggs, and grass-fed butter. Herbs, non-starchy vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits, such as berries, lemons, and limes provide ample antioxidants to protect from free radical damage.
High-quality protein including grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised poultry, and wild game is also important. Adding some nuts and seeds can provide additional fiber and Omega-3s to further reduce inflammation.
Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles can protect gut health. Natural sweeteners, such as monk fruits and stevia can add a little sweetness.
Hidden food sensitivities may be at the root of many health concerns including insulin resistance. While food allergies come with obvious symptoms, such as rashes or anaphylactic shock, food sensitivities are not blatant. Food sensitivities usually lead to more subtle health challenges. These may include fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, brain fog, joint pain, and other unwanted symptoms for seemingly unknown reasons.
Common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, corn, soy, shellfish, fish, and tree nuts, however, the cause of the symptom could also be a less common food.
Food sensitivities can cause a big rise in blood sugar and insulin even if the food is low-carbohydrate and anti-inflammatory. Uncovering food sensitivities and avoiding these is crucial to stabilize blood sugar and reverse insulin sensitivity. Getting a food sensitivity test, trying an elimination diet, and doing a pulse test
Intermittent fasting is a powerful way to lower inflammation and requires fasting only for a day or a part of a day on a regular basis.
A popular intermittent fasting strategy is the 5:2 approach. Here, caloric intake is reduced by 500 calories for 2 days a week.
Another popular approach is a time restricted eating pattern where food is avoided altogether for 12 – 16 (or even 23 or 24) hours a day. Eating occurs between a specific time frame each day, for example, between 12 pm and 8 pm.
Intermittent fasting is known to help burn fat, improve energy and digestion, increase mental and spiritual health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and improve one’s mindfulness around food.
Going for periods of time without food can help increase insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help balance insulin levels and support fat loss when needed. As a result, it can increase insulin sensitivity. Intermittent fasting can also increase the human growth hormone (HGH), which helps with attaining and maintaining a healthy weight and fat-muscle ratio, decreasing the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
80% of your immune system is found in your gut. Having an imbalanced microbiome can result in a compromised immune system, inflammation, infections, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune disease. To stabilize your blood sugar and reverse insulin sensitivity, it is important to improve your digestive health.
To improve and strengthen digestion, eat a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory low carbohydrate diet. Supplementing with Collagen, aloe vera, bone broth, and l-glutamine can help you repair the gut lining while digestive enzymes, can help to improve digestion and absorption.
Adding beneficial bacteria with the use of probiotics will support the integrity and resilience of the microbiome. Probiotics can balance the gut and fight pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Eating fermented foods, such kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha will add probiotics to the diet. When dealing with insulin resistance, inflammation, or other health issues, taking a daily dose of probiotic supplements can also be beneficial.
Due to the increased release of cortisol, excessive and chronic stress can elevate blood sugar levels. Chronic stress can also increase emotional eating, overeating, and cravings for sugary junk and ‘comfort’ foods which inflammation further impact blood sugar. Tackling chronic stress is crucial in order to stabilize blood sugar and reverse insulin resistance.
Meditation, relaxation exercises, yoga, journaling, coloring, using essential oils, creating some ‘me-time’, taking a relaxing bath, spending time in nature, and connecting with loved ones are natural stress relievers that can benefit health, especially when dealing with insulin resistance.
Deep breathing is another stress reducing practice. Diaphragmatic breathing, a deep breathing technique, involves breathing deeply through the nose, holding it in for four counts, then exhaling through the mouth for a count of 4. The length of breath can be gradually increased to 20 counts. The exercise is can be repeated a few times.
Being well-rested is essential in maintaining overall health, stabilizing blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Sleep apnea is a major factor in the development of insulin resistance. A lack of sleep can increase stress levels and hunger hormones and resulting in a greater likelihood of reaching for sugary snacks and inflammatory foods. A lack of sleep, sugary foods, and excess caffeine can disturb circadian rhythm triggering the rise of blood glucose and impaired insulin secretion.
Following an anti-inflammatory, low carbohydrate diet can help with sleep quality. Developing a regular sleep schedule and avoiding blue light exposure and electronics in the evening can further support falling and staying asleep.
Regular exercise is associated with countless health benefits. Even short bouts of exercise can signal the muscle cells to take up more glucose to be used for energy and tissue repair. This process can support lowering blood sugar.
Long-term exercise can also trigger cells to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce and prevent insulin resistance. Research has shown that exercise increases the effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity through multiple adaptations in glucose transport and metabolism.
As little ass 30 minutes of exercise a few days a week can support managing inflammation, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering stress levels, and boosting immunity. Resistance training and high-intensity training (HIIT) 3 to 5 times a week, and low-intensity movement each day is ideal. Resistance training increases strength and endurance, whereas HIIT workouts improve cardiovascular health whilst building strength.
Exercise need not be difficult or require a gym and may include a walk in a park, playing outdoors, yoga, pilates, easy swimming, and stretching.
Reducing inflammation is essential in supporting stabilizing blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity. One of the key aspects of health is meeting micronutrient, mineral and vitamin needs. Unfortunately, most people are lacking micronutrients. which can contribute to inflammation, pain, insulin resistance, and health issues
Even when a nutrient-dense diet, there can be a lack of certain nutrients due to depleted soils and poor packaging. Past unhealthy eating habits may further contribute to nutrient deficiencies. Taking a high-quality multivitamin can help you to correct these deficits.
A few other considerations include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in reducing inflammation and contributing to the health of the brain and nervous system. Insufficient omega-3s in the diet, increase the risk of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, can increase greatly. Omega-3 can improve cellular health, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, immunity, bone, joint, eye, heart, and brain health.
The main types of omega-3s are ALA, EPA, and DHA. EPA and DHA are derived from algae, fish, and mother’s milk. These are extremely important for overall health. While EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA, this process puts extreme stress on the body, is very inefficient and is challenging to meet the daily needed requirements.
ALA is derived from plant sources, such as nuts, seeds, and green plants. Foods high in ALA may also be high in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are important, however, when you consume these in excess, they can lead to inflammation and health issues. Ideally, a 1:2 ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s is preferred.
The best sources of EPA and DHA include algae and wild-caught fish, including wild salmon, cod, and whitefish, Pacific sardines, anchovies, and herring. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds provide lots of ALA and DHA, however, they may not convert in appropriate amounts. Most people can benefit from additional supplementation to reduce inflammation.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory herb that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, and as a recent popular superfood. Its anti-inflammatory properties lie in its active compound called curcumin.
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that supports reducing pain and inflammation and pain without the harmful side-effects of ibuprofen. Curcumin can improve inflammation in those with diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and arthritis.
(GSH0 is a specific peptide molecule that provides you with great antioxidant protection. It is often called the master antioxidant because of its ability to help maintain exogenous antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E in their active form. It protects your cells from outside attacks.
Glutathione, the master antioxidant, can improve your immune function by strengthening your T cells and protects you against viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, pollutants and tissue damage. Glutathione can keep autoimmune responses in check and reduce free-radical damage. It helps maintain exogenous antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E in their active form.
An increasing number of people are dealing with insulin resistance. Insulin is important for a cell’s ability to absorb and use glucose for energy. Insulin resistance occurs due to an inability to respond to and use insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes, diabetes, inflammation, and many serious health problems. Through appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes, insulin resistance can be reversed and insulin sensitivity improves naturally.