We’ve seen how diet and lifestyle can lead to insulin resistance. The good news is that the right nutrition and behaviors can also help prevent and actually treat insulin resistance. Here are some of the best ways to maintain balanced blood sugar and decrease your chances for developing type 2 diabetes.
Get active. Exercise causes the body to burn sugar for energy and increases insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to use insulin more efficiently. The result is lower blood sugar and decreased burden on insulin production by the pancreas.
Eat smaller, balanced meals more frequently. A well-balanced meal includes protein at about 20 percent of total calories (examples include coldwater fish, legumes, nuts, seeds and low-fat or fermented dairy); complex carbs at 55-60 percent of total calories (try beans, yams, brown rice); and healthy fats below 25 percent of total calories (examples include avocados and raw nuts). Avoid simple sugars, saturated/hydrogenated fats and starchy vegetables. Include protein at each meal and shoot for at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast.
Get your fiber. Fiber slows down digestion and absorption of carbs, prevents hyperglycemia, increases sensitivity to insulin, prevents overproduction of insulin and improves glucose uptake by the cells. Fiber is best when it is consumed through diet (e.g. legumes, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium seed husks, pears, apples and most vegetables), but supplemental fiber can also be helpful; I recommend Renew Life’s Fiber-Tastic, Sprinkle Fiber or Organic Triple Fiber.
Get to know the glycemic index. Foods with high scores will create spikes in blood sugar, so choose foods with lower scores. Low GI food examples include whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy. High GI examples are donuts, refined cereals, candy, white breads and soda.
Get balanced sleep. Studies suggest that consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep—or more than 9 hours—increases risk for insulin resistance.
Try blood sugar-balancing herbs and supplements.
Chromium is a trace mineral that is crucial for insulin sensitivity, yet chromium deficiency is widespread in the US. Studies have shown that for chromium-deficient individuals, supplementing can produce significant increases in good blood sugar metabolism. Try New Chapter’s GTF Chromium Food Complex, Thorne Research’s Chromium Picolinate or Pure Encapsulations’ ChromeMate GTF.
Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about best practices for optimizing your blood sugar metabolism and decreasing your risk of insulin resistance.