Are you insulin resistant? Do you know what that means?
Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas. Its primary purpose is to trigger our cells to absorb glucose (sugar) from our blood and keep our blood sugar (energy) levels regulated.
Sometimes, the cells in our body become less sensitive to the insulin triggers. As a result, our pancreas releases more and more insulin to get our cells to react. This can lead to many different complications.
First, weight gain. With too much insulin in your blood, your body begins to store the excess glucose as fat. Too much insulin can also lead to diabetes. There are other serious complications you can read about here.
The best way to test for insulin resistance is to have your fasting insulin levels tested by your doctor.
I’ve been dealing with insulin resistance for years, so I know first-hand how difficult it can be to combat! I wanted to share with you 9 things I am doing to help heal my insulin sensitivity naturally. I don’t want to be on medication if I don’t have to be, so practicing good habits and using natural remedies always come first.
1. Eat Clean.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s perhaps THE most important! The food we use to fuel our body will cause spikes in blood sugar, and, therefore, spike in insulin. Any time you eat food, insulin is released into the blood. It’s because of this you want to be sure you’re eating food that is low on the GI scale (or won’t dramatically spike your blood sugar levels).
I like to eat whole foods low in simple carbohydrates. I eat lots of protein, vegetables, some fruit, and healthy fats. I typically avoid grains, starchy veggies (corn, white potatoes, etc), flours, oils (other than coconut, olive, and avocado), sugar, dairy, and artificial sweeteners.
The one exception I make with artificial sweeteners is the occasional stevia or erythritol product. These sweeteners typically do not raise or elevate blood sugar. I like to use these in my baking with almond or coconut flour!
Eating clean is probably the hardest part of the entire process because it’s so individual! It’s going to take time and dedication for you to find out what works and does not work for your body. One way I suggest testing your body’s reaction to food is to check your fasting blood sugar levels in the morning and then throughout the day. Do this for three days. This practice will help you find out your carb tolerance, and also help you discover what foods spike your blood sugar.
2. Get Moving!
I’m not saying you need to be a professional athlete, but even 30 minutes of WALKING can drastically reduce the amount of insulin running through your blood. Get outside, go to the gym, walk your dog, just do SOMETHING every day ti get your body moving. It’s much simpler than you might think.
Another great way to reduce blood glucose levels is to weight lift or strength train. Our bodies use the glucose stored in our muscles for energy and then make room for more. When we use the stored energy, our bodies can use the excess to replenish those stores. So, USE YOUR MUSCLES! Your body is amazing and built to do hard things! AND it might even be fun.
Find something you love to do that will get you moving and do it for yourself every single day!
3. Drink Smart.
Did you know your bodies hold anywhere from 5-10 pounds of water weight? Yep! It’s vitally important you are drinking enough water. I like to drink half of my bodyweight in ounces every day (the recommended amount).
If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to give up all those “other” drinks besides water! I’m not perfect and I treat myself sometimes, but I would say 97% of the time, I drink only water. Now to be fair, I will occasionally throw in a Crystal Light packet or something to add some flavor. When I do treat myself, I’ll have a Diet Dr. Pepper. Again, it is only every once in a while. I also love herbal teas. They have great health benefits. Also, I think everyone should drink more green tea. But that is just me!
Drinks like juice, soda, coffee (not black), milk, etc. all contain sugar and can have very negative effects on your insulin levels. So, keep it simple, stick to water.
4. Don’t Get Hangry.
Regulating your blood sugar levels is imperative! When you go too long without eating and your blood sugar drops, it causes cravings, fatigue, and all kinds of other negative side effects. Avoid going longer than 3-5 hours without food. Do your best to keep your levels stable.
By doing this, you can avoid hunger, overeating, emotional eating, binging, and/or caving and eating something you shouldn’t.
5. Customize your plan.
Now, as I mentioned before nutrition is very personal. Not all recipes on the internet or at restaurants will fit in your dietary lifestyle! That’s totally fine! I recommend doing your best to make substitutions in order to make your meals fit your lifestyle.
I have worked at making a lifestyle change to control my insulin resistance and you can do the same! Find a well-rounded nutritional plan that you can follow!
I follow a mix of paleo and keto diets. My main focus is eating low-carb, whole, natural food! If it’s processed or coated in flour, sugar, or gluten, I avoid it. It took me testing, evaluating, and learning my body to know what worked for me. I encourage you to do the same.
6. Reduce Stress.
I don’t just mean mental stress either. I mean all stress. Lack of sleep, lack of water, bad food, too much exercise, work, life, family, and so on. There are so many things that can put our bodies under stress! Do your best to meditate, go for a walk, shop, or just do something for yourself that will help you to relieve the stress of day to day life.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP! This is such a huge one! Your body does its primary healing while you are asleep. Do your best to get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. I know it can be difficult trying to balance work, school, life, a boy/girlfriend, family, etc. But I have done my best to make sleep a priority. This means I am often one of the first people to go home on a night out or the one who choose to not go out at all. It’s about balance! My sleep has become very important to me.
Make a goal to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night for the next week. If you can do that, I promise you will notice a huge difference in how you feel.
8. Try Supplements.
Supplements are natural approaches to medication. I don’t want to give any false perceptions here. I still treat supplements as a form of medication, so I don’t suggest starting a new one without consulting your healthcare professional. Some supplements I take include:
Multivitamin: I take a multivitamin with healthy amounts of Magnesium, Zinc, and Potassium.
Fish Oil: Proven to promote fat burning and is an anti-inflammatory.
Probiotic: Promotes gut-health.
Inositol: Proven to improve insulin sensitivity.
Folic Acid: Supports cells.
Vitamin D: Promotes fat loss, regular menstrual cycles, and reduces inflammation.
9. Plan Ahead.
You still have to live your life. Your diet and nutrition do not rule you, but it is important to make them a priority. If you are going out (to dinner, to a BBQ, or to a special event) make the effort to plan your food ahead of time. Find out what they’re serving and be prepared. There will be foods that don’t fit into your lifestyle, so start mentally preparing yourself to simple say “no thank you” before you go.
I have found doing this keeps me on track and prevents me from straying. It’s so much easier for me to know what I am eating beforehand. There’s no stress and no guessing, I just know! Preparing myself this way helps me to feel confident in my decisions and focus on other things. Take the stress out of eating and focus on making memories with friends and loved ones.