We will discuss the non-dietary factors you can use to combat insulin resistance. but the biggest factor for insulin resistance is your diet. People are quick to dismiss their diet because it is an automatic part of their day. an afterthought. People also have a terribly hard time when they are asked to change what they eat. especially when they are asked to give up sweets. Sweets and carbohydrates in general are the single biggest factor to developing insulin resistance. Glucose of any amount triggers insulin production. and we know that even a bit of insulin resistance can prompt a vicious cycle of worsening resistance.
The first step in treating insulin resistance is normalizing insulin levels, which mean reducing consumption of carbohydrates and sugary foods.
This means reduction in foods like bread. potatoes. white rice. noodles. pasta and sugary foods like sweets. candy. sugared cereal etc. One of the key factors to examine when eating carbohydrates is the food’s glycemic index. among many other nutritional factors. Glycemic index is a measure of how much a given food elevates your blood sugar an hour after consumption with 0 being none and 100 being pure glucose. While simple carb foods like doughnuts come in pretty high at 76 it can be surprising that foods like bagels. French fries. shredded wheat and even pizza all average in in the 70’s on the glycemic index scale. Even some brands of whole wheat bread can have indexes of 70 or 80. When a healthy body is overwhelmed by sugar. it rushes out more insulin to handle it. causing resistance as the body’s cells quickly fill up their stores of glycogen. We’ll aim to cut out high glycemic carbs and sugars and replace them with low glycemic foods like meat. fish. vegetables. fruit. cheese and beans.
A current recommendation for diabetics and even those with insulin resistance is increased consumption of complex carbohydrates. The term complex carbohydrate is somewhat nebulous. referring generally to carbohydrate rich food with some fiber content. which slows their digestion. like brown bread. While complex carbohydrates are better than simple sugars that cause quick blood sugar spikes. simply switching your white bread for brown bread won’t be enough to fight insulin resistance. Carbohydrates. simple or complex. will break down to glucose and will provoke insulin secretion. Whilst the slower sugar release from complex carbohydrates like brown pasta. rice and bread are better than their white counterparts. switching to naturally low GI foods like vegetables and beans will be more effective and provide a wider range of vitamins and nutrients to support the body during it’s time of healing. If you feel that you are already struggling with insulin resistance it is best to minimise carbohydrates. even complex ones. The bottom line with insulin resistance and diabetes is that the body is no longer able to effectively process sugar. so any sugars can do more harm than good.
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Complex carbohydrates really are the better carbohydrate to eat if you don’t already have insulin resistance because your body can handle the slow release of sugar more easily. To prevent the initial onset of insulin resistance. it is important to pace and limit your sugars.
If you do eat carbohydrates. try to make them nutrient dense and low glycemic index foods. Gluten free carbs such as quinoa can be a good carb to use while working to cut down on worse carbs as it has a good balance of minerals. protein and fiber while usually being around 50 or lower on the glycemic index. Many beans also have low GIs and can be a great choice.
Fruits can seem like a bad choice as some like watermelon have a GI of 70 but unless you eat dried fruit you are getting a lot of fiber as well as a lot of water which does a lot to balance out the amount of sugar you eat as well as the impact it has. Vegetables also have a great amount of fiber. vitamins and minerals in addition to their complex carbohydrates.
Outside of carbohydrate control. there are other foods that have a big impact on how your body processes sugar. Having a healthy balance of the right fats is important. Trans fats and diets full of processed oils and margarines can cause inflammation in the body and worsen the symptoms of insulin resistance. Healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids can improve insulin sensitivity. having the opposite effect of insulin resistance. Foods like the avocado provide an abundance of healthy fats and when eaten along with carbohydrates the healthy fats slow digestion and lessen the overall glycemic impact of a meal.
There are certain other foods that are excellent at fighting or reversing insulin resistance.
– The previously mentioned avocado not only has healthy fats. it also is full of fiber. which also slows digestion. makes you feel fuller longer and improves digestive health. It also provides plenty of B vitamins and potassium while being low in overall sugar.
– Cinnamon, in addition to being high in fiber, has amazing blood sugar regulation properties. Cinnamon slows digestion, which can lessen the impact of sugars, but it also binds with sugars and can manage blood sugar about as well as several common diabetes drugs.
– Eggs, yes the whole egg yolk and all, are amazing foods to ward of insulin resistance. They also have plenty of protein and healthy fats and also keep you very full for a long time and keep you from snacking on junk food.
– If you are not sensitive to it than most dairy is excellent as it balances moderate sugars with healthy fats and quality protein while providing a variety of vitamins and minerals. Go ahead a drink a glass of 2% or even whole milk or a bowl of Greek yoghurt and see how full you are, you might be surprised how long dairy can ward off sugar cravings.
– Sweet potatoes have a misleading name. Certainly they will raise your blood sugar right? Well, the complexity of sweet potatoes means that you can get different results by how it’s prepared. It is possible to get a sweet tasting sweet potato dish with a GI of under 50 while also providing plenty of fiber and minerals.
– For those who are suffering from insulin resistance it is a good idea to get anti-inflammatory foods into the diet. Foods such as ginger and peppers simply lower inflammation with specific compounds while foods such as nuts and leafy vegetables lower inflammation by providing healthy fats and vitamin E.