Insulin is a hormone produced in the body that is responsible for the transportation of glucose into the body’s cells to create energy. Insulin plays an important role in metabolism by breaking down protein, fats and carbohydrates for energy stores.
When the body’s sensitivity to insulin declines, known as insulin resistance, we are more susceptible to poor health. If insulin resistance continues to develop, those conditions often become chronic in nature making them more difficult to resolve.
Insulin resistance is associated with:
o type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
o some cancers
o blood lipid disorder and elevated cholesterol
o fatty liver and liver disease
o cardiovascular disease
Factors such as inactivity (leading a sedentary lifestyle), weight gain (particularly around the abdomen), hormonal imbalances, genetics, some pre-existing health conditions and poor dietary choices can lead to insulin resistance.
Adopting healthy dietary and lifestyle habits can significantly reduce insulin resistance and enhance the body’s sensitivity to insulin. These include regular (daily) exercise, weight management (for those overweight) and cutting out sweet foods and drinks. Adequate sleep and keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle has been shown to positively influence insulin resistance by regulating hormone levels.
Taking a slow and steady approach at weight loss and weight management is more sustainable and successful in managing insulin resistance.
Choosing foods that stabilise blood sugar levels and avoiding those foods that cause fluctuations to blood sugar levels is helpful in managing this condition. A diet high in fibre and protein with some healthy fats and lower in refined carbohydrates supports insulin sensitivity. Reducing animal products, unhealthy fats, junk food, sugar, caffeine and alcohol is beneficial along with increasing foods such as psyllium, legumes, whole grains, onion, garlic, green beans, alfalfa, fenugreek and oats.
Specific nutrients such as chromium, taurine, zinc and magnesium play a role in maintaining the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Depending on symptoms and disease progression, it may be necessary to supplement key nutrients in order to increase insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system.
Together with a healthy diet and lifestyle, certain herbal medicines work to enhance insulin sensitivity by stimulating the secretion of insulin, reducing glucose uptake and stabilising blood sugar levels. Taking this holistic approach will reduce inflammation and may negate the need for short or long term medication. For more information or to book an appointment, contact our Naturopath, Belle, on 0405 128 213 or at email@example.com