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13 Natural Ways To Improve Insulin Sensitivity

What Is Insulin Sensitivity?

Insulin is a hormone that aids our body in controlling the blood sugar or blood glucose level. Insulin sensitivity refers to the fact of how sensitive the cells of our body are in response to the insulin hormone.

Insulin sensitivity differs from person to person and can change based on different dietary factors and lifestyles. High insulin sensitivity allows the body’s cells to effectively use blood glucose and thus reducing the level of blood sugar.

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An individual having low insulin sensitivity also has insulin resistance and this condition affects around 38% of adults in the U.S.(1) Individuals with insulin resistance have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Improving insulin sensitivity might benefit people who suffer from type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing the condition.

There are several natural ways for improving insulin sensitivity. Let us check about them in the following array of the article.

13 Natural Ways To Improve Insulin Sensitivity

  1. Get More Sleep

    Proper sleep at night is essential for good health. Lack of sleep can adversely impact your health and increase the risk of developing heart disease, infections, and type 2 diabetes.

    Many studies have also shown the association between poor sleep and reduced insulin sensitivity.(2, 3) For instance, a study involving nine healthy individuals found that sleeping for only four hours a night had reduced their insulin sensitivity and the ability to regulate blood sugar when compared with getting eight and half hours of sleep.(3)

    However, if you can manage to catch up on lost sleep it can reverse the ill effects of poor sleep on insulin resistance.(4)

  2. Exercise Regularly

    One of the best natural ways to improve insulin sensitivity is to do regular exercise.

    Exercise helps move sugar into our body’s muscles for storage and also enhances an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity.(5)

    For instance, a study conducted on healthy volunteers has found that cycling on a machine at a moderate speed for sixty minutes has increased insulin sensitivity for forty eight hours.(6)

    Resistance training is also beneficial in improving insulin sensitivity. Several studies have shown that resistance training increased insulin sensitivity among women and men with or without diabetes.

    For example, a study conducted involving men with overweight and without diabetes found that when they performed resistance training for three more than three months, there was an increase in their insulin sensitivity.(7)

    Both aerobic, as well as resistance training, improve insulin sensitivity. However, combining both these could prove more effective.(8, 9, 10)

  3. Lose Those Extra Pound

    Excessive weight gain, especially in the belly region reduces insulin sensitivity and also improves the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Several studies also support the association between higher amounts of belly fat and reduced rate of insulin sensitivity.

    However, reducing extra weight could be one of the most effective ways to lose belly fat and improve insulin sensitivity and also help in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
    For example, according to a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University, it was found that patients with prediabetes who reduced 5% to 7% of their total weight over six months, also reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 54% for the next three years.(11)

  4. Reduce Unnecessary Stress

    One must know that stress affects our bodies quite negatively. It affects the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar. It produces cortisol and glucagon, which are stress hormones. However, when the levels of these stress hormones become high due to excess stress, it stimulates nutrient breakdown and increases blood glucose or blood sugar.

    Various studies have shown that high levels of stress hormones reduce insulin sensitivity.(12, 13)

    Some of the best ways to reduce unnecessary stress are meditation, proper sleep, and exercise. This reduces stress and also improves insulin sensitivity.

  5. Consume More Fruits and Vegetables

    Fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and they even offer potential health-boosting effects. Especially colorful vegetables and fruits are great since they have plant compounds that are known for their excellent antioxidant properties.(14)

    Several studies have shown that consuming food rich in plant compounds is associated with higher insulin sensitivity.(15, 16, 17, 18)

  6. Eat More Soluble Fiber

    Fibers are of two types, namely soluble fibers, and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber is beneficial in various ways, such as reducing appetite and lowering cholesterol levels.

    Many studies have also found that there is a link between intake of high soluble fiber and increased insulin sensitivity.(19, 20, 21, 22)

    For instance, it was found from a study involving 264 women that those who consumed more soluble fiber had quite lower levels of insulin resistance.(23)

    Soluble fiber even aids to feed the good bacteria in your gut, which is associated with improved insulin sensitivity. Legumes, flaxseeds, oatmeal, Brussels sprouts, and oranges are some foods that are loaded with soluble fiber.

  7. Reduce Intake Of Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are the prime stimulus that raises the insulin blood levels. Insulin sensitivity can be improved by reducing intake of carbohydrates. (24, 25) Insulin sensitivity can also be increased by spreading your carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day.

    It is also important that you choose the right type of carbohydrate. Low-glycemic index carbohydrates prove to be the best, since they slow down the release of sugar into the blood and thus give more time to insulin to work efficiently.

    Brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and quinoa, are some of the best foods with carbohydrates having low glycemic index.

  8. Reduce Intake Of Added Sugar

    Another natural way to improve insulin sensitivity is by reducing intake of added sugar. These sugars are present in more highly processed foods. These added sugars contain approximately 50% of fructose.

    Several studies have shown that consuming excess of fructose can increase insulin resistance among diabetics. Foods containing added sugar also contain high amounts of fructose. Such foods include cakes, candy, sugar-sweetened beverages, pastries, and cookies.

    So, when you reduce intake of added sugar or limit taking foods that have added sugar, you can increase your chance to improve insulin sensitivity naturally.

  9. Drink Green Tea For Improved Insulin Sensitivity

    Green tea is a great choice for diabetic people or those who are at risk of having it. Various studies have shown that drinking green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and also reduce the levels of blood sugar.

    An analysis of seventeen studies that investigated the link between green tea on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity found that drinking green tea regularly reduced fasting blood sugar quite significantly and also improved insulin sensitivity.(26)

  10. Adding Cinnamon To Daily Diet

    Cinnamon is a spice packed with plant compounds and known for its ability to reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.(27)

    Many studies have claimed that cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity by helping glucose-receptors on muscle cells turn more efficient at transporting sugar into the cells.(28, 29)

  11. Consume Apple Cider Vinegar

    Vinegar is a versatile liquid and is a key ingredient in apple cider vinegar and is known to be extremely healthy.

    Vinegar might help in increasing insulin sensitivity by reducing the level of sugar in blood and improving the effectiveness of insulin.(30, 31)

    It has been found that consuming apple cider vinegar could improve insulin sensitivity by 34% during a high carbohydrate meal in individuals who were significantly insulin resistant and by around 19% in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  12. Add Specific Herbs And Spices

    Herbs and spices have been used since ancient times because of their tremendous medicinal properties. However, in the past few decades scientists began to examine their significant health-enhancing properties. Some herbs and spices have shown striking results in improving insulin sensitivity. They include fenugreek seeds, turmeric, ginger, and garlic.

  13. Dietary Supplements That Work

    Dietary supplements could help in improving insulin sensitivity. Some dietary supplements that work at increasing insulin sensitivity include probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol or a natural component found in the skins of red grapes, and magnesium supplements.

Final Thoughts

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Apart from using the above mentioned natural ways to improve insulin sensitivity, losing weight can also help reverse the damage and even allow your tissues to properly respond to insulin.

NOTE: Doctor’s advice is always recommended.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/prevalence-of-prediabetes.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10898125
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20371664
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22496545
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10683091
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17635103
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15628572
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730354
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178704/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25882384
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832727/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1605044
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050109/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073986/
  16. https://jdmdonline.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2251-6581-12-43
  17. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/9/1671.long
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4852413/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901089
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19335713
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23218116
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21554710
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23218116
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608918/
  25. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319016415000766
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23803878
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609100/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901047/
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18234131
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25168916
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27213723
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