Insulin is a hormone that helps the body absorb glucose and keep blood sugar levels balanced. Insulin resistance is a condition where the body’s cells have difficulty absorbing glucose, making it less sensitive to insulin, which regulates sugar. Because of this, people with insulin resistance can progress to diabetes or type 2 diabetes. It also means that there is a problem with the system that controls blood sugar, so you can be diagnosed with pre-diabetes. If insulin resistance is high, the risk of complications such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease as well as diabetes increases, so special attention is needed.
Certain eating and lifestyle habits can contribute to diseases associated with insulin resistance. In fact, eating or limiting certain foods can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The American health website Medicalnewstoday presented how to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin and improve insulin resistance.
▪ Diet to help control blood sugar levels
Many people do not get enough magnesium, calcium, fiber and potassium. However, these nutrients are essential for regulating blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is important that people with insulin resistance include many of these nutrient-rich foods in their diet. The following foods can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
‣ Non-starchy vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers
‣ Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and limes
‣ whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and barley
‣Protein-rich foods, including lean meats, legumes and nuts
‣ Fiber foods, including beans, pulses, nuts and seeds
‣ Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines and herring
‣Foods that contain antioxidants such as berries
‣ Unsweetened yoghurt
‣ Instead of water, especially sweet drinks
Foods to limit include fruit juice and soft drinks that contain a lot of sugar, beer, carbohydrate foods such as bread and noodles, and snacks such as chocolate. They can increase insulin resistance.
▪ Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by Mediterranean culture, which eats a lot of seasonal plant foods such as fruit and vegetables and uses olive oil as the main source of fat. People following this diet eat fish, lean meats, legumes, and nuts as their main sources of protein, and enjoy dairy products in moderation. Limit the amount of red meat eaten and drink red wine in moderation with meals.
A 2018 study found that women who followed a Mediterranean diet had about a 25% reduced risk of cardiovascular health conditions, including insulin resistance.
▪ Weight management
Being overweight or obese can increase your chance of developing insulin resistance. People with a lot of fat, especially around the waist and abdomen, are at greater risk of developing insulin resistance. Although the mechanism is not clear, some researchers believe that fat cells secrete hormones and other substances that can counteract the effects of insulin.
Excess fat around the waist can be linked to chronic inflammation. This can lead to other health problems including insulin resistance. However, weight is only one factor that can contribute to insulin resistance, and being overweight or obese does not lead to insulin resistance. It’s a good idea to get a personal diagnosis with your doctor or nutritionist to see if dietary and lifestyle changes can help.
▪ Regular exercise
Combining exercise with diet can improve insulin resistance. According to the American Diabetes Association, physical activity plays an important role in keeping blood sugar levels steady. It is good to continue exercising for around 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, and make it a habit to move your body even in your everyday life, such as ‣walking after eating, ‣ use the stairs instead of the elevator, or ‣walk a short distance. In addition, smoking, indiscriminate use of steroids, and sleep problems can also increase insulin resistance, so it is good to be careful.