Insulin, a vital hormone in our body, helps the body absorb glucose, keeping blood sugar levels under control. However, due to Insulin resistance absorbing glucose becomes harder. This condition can lead to type 2 diabetes. People with insulin resistance often have prediabetes.
Causes of insulin resistance
Numerous research have shown that ethnic and genetic factors may increase the risk of insulin resistance. However, lifestyle factors also make a big difference. Making positive changes to lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
Other factors that affect insulin resistance are diet, overweight, not enough exercise, smoking, older age, sleep issues and use of steroid.
Following a healthful diet plan, such as the Mediterranean Diet, can greatly enhance insulin sensitivity. Mediterranean diet recommends consuming lots of plant-based foods, having fruit as a dessert, and olive oil as the main source of fat. Poultry, fish, and dairy products should be eaten in moderation. It also recommends very small amount of red meat and a little wine during meals.
A very simple way to tackle insulin resistance is to eat foods that have low glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods do not produce as many sugar spikes and they are digested slowly. Carbohydrates have a high GI and can cause elevated blood sugar. As a result it puts more demand on the pancreas to make insulin.
Western diets typically do not contain nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. People with insulin resistance should look for food rich in these nutrients, as they are important for maintaining blood sugar levels. [Read more 15 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Fish]
The following foods will help you support insulin sensitivity:
- High-fiber foods, such as beans and whole grains
- Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli and peppers
- Protein-rich foods, including lean meats, fish, and nuts
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon
- Antioxidant foods, such as berries
- Sweet potatoes, which are lower GI than other potatoes
- Water, especially as a substitute for sweetened drinks
- Unsweetened teas
Foods you should avoid
There are certain foods that are known to raise blood sugar. Avoid or limit these foods to help maintain a steady blood sugar level:
- Sweetened beverages, such as, soda, fountain drinks, and even fruit juices.
- Alcohol, especially grain alcohol and beer in large quantities.
- Grains may worsen insulin sensitive in some people. Avoid grains, whether is refined or whole gran.
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, pumpkin, corn, and yams.
- Sugary sweets that are high in sugar, such as cupcakes, ice cream, or chocolate bars.
- Processed snacks and boxed foods.
- Cow-based dairy, especially milk.
- White bread, pasta, rice, and flour, which is lower in fiber than whole grain.
- Fried foods, even if the food is otherwise healthful.
- Foods high in saturated fats, including chocolate, butter, and salt pork
If you do not want to completely avoid these foods, limit them and replace them with more healthful options as often as possible.
Sticking to a plant-based, fiber-rich diet with low added sugar can steadily improve insulin sensitivity. It is also important to be active. Exercise daily. These lifestyle changes can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.