Insulin sensitivity has become a topic of focus for people who are looking to improve their health and performance. Insulin sensitivity is critical to metabolic health, blood sugar regulation, weight management, and other health issues.
Understanding how to improve insulin sensitivity through nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices lets you achieve the level of health you’re looking for. We’ve got your back! We break down five ways to improve insulin sensitivity:
Understanding Insulin Resistance
Insulin sensitivity relates to the ability of your body’s cells to metabolize carbohydrates from the foods you eat. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and released in response to a rise in blood sugar after a meal is ingested. It plays a major role in transporting sugars from the blood into the cells of the body’s tissues.
But this system can become inefficient and disrupted due to a variety of reasons. Poor diet and lifestyle factors can impair your insulin sensitivity.
In severe cases, people develop insulin resistance, which is characterized by the inability of the cells to respond to insulin. This prevents the blood sugar from being regulated and can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. If the body becomes resistant to insulin, it could lead to an increase in visceral fat, which builds up around the organs and throughout the abdominal area. Thankfully, you can improve your insulin sensitivity with a few simple (yet powerful) strategies.
Excess weight is one of the main causes of insulin resistance. The good news is that you can improve your insulin sensitivity by achieving an ideal weight for your body. The visceral fat mentioned above is crucial to restoring the tissues’ sensitivity to insulin. Taking the steps to reduce abdominal fat is a powerful way to restore the health of your cells and tissues.
In a recent study on the link between weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, researchers highlighted the role of fatty acid mobilization and uptake in helping obese women become more sensitive to insulin. This supports the idea that weight loss and other lifestyle interventions are effective ways to improve your ability to regulate blood sugar and optimize your health.
Regulate Sugar Intake
There are many health risks associated with a high intake of sugar. Although natural sugar in the form of fruits and vegetables can be used beneficially, high levels of processed sugars are detrimental to insulin sensitivity.
Eating sugar stimulates the release of insulin in order to regulate blood sugar levels and provide fuel to the cells. Refined sugars cause a more severe increase due to their high rate of digestion and absorption. Any amount of insulin resistance combined with a high intake of refined sugars will lead to more serious health issues over time.
Reduce your intake of processed sugars to improve insulin sensitivity. These are typically found in processed and packaged foods. Sticking to whole foods is a big step towards improving insulin sensitivity.
Your exercise programme should consist of various exercises and intensity levels to gain the greatest benefits. When it comes to improving insulin sensitivity, cross training is your best bet for a healthy metabolism as well as improved performance.
Insulin sensitivity is specific to the muscles being trained. Endurance athletes can improve their insulin sensitivity, but the results will be limited to the muscles used in their given activity. You should incorporate exercises into your routine that allow you to train a wide range of movements and muscles.
In addition, your programme should be balanced between aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Incorporating strength training is an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity along with any aerobic training (running, swimming, etc.) you may already be doing.
Weight lifting improves insulin sensitivity through the non-insulin dependent glucose uptake that occurs after a strength training session. Glycogen (the stored form of glucose) can be replenished in the muscles without having to depend on insulin. This increases the sensitivity of the cells over time. The improved insulin sensitivity you’ll experience from cross training outweighs the benefits you’ll receive from doing one type of exercise alone.
Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is one of the most important components related to disease and dysfunction. Systemic inflammation leads to serious health conditions such as chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Insulin sensitivity can be affected by chronic inflammation. You should, therefore, take the steps to reduce chronic inflammation through proper diet and lifestyle strategies.
Eating a diet based on whole foods and high in Omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation and improves insulin sensitivity. Limiting the intake of Omega-6 fatty acids and vegetable oils also supports your metabolic health. Lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress management also provide anti-inflammatory effects that improve your insulin sensitivity.
Choose the Right Foods for Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Certain foods are recognized for their ability to aid in improving insulin sensitivity. Vinegar, for example, was shown to improve insulin sensitivity in individuals who have type 2 diabetes after consuming a high-carbohydrate meal. Drinking apple cider vinegar helped reduce their levels of insulin resistance by approximately 34 percent.
Plant foods are another great source of nutrients that help improve insulin sensitivity. Foods that are rich in color and have a bitter taste contain high levels of phytonutrients. These compounds are significant factors in improving health. Foods such as blueberries, broccoli sprouts, purple sweet potatoes, and others are great sources of these phytonutrients and should be included in your diet on a regular basis.
These 5 ways to improve insulin sensitivity will help you improve your health, blood sugar regulation, and prevent the many diseases linked to insulin resistance. Improving your insulin sensitivity will ensure that you’re taking the steps to build a strong foundation for a lifetime of health and vitality.