8 nutritional tips against insulin resistance

Proper nutrition intervenes in a positive way in the control of insulin resistance. What must be considered? Find out!

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on October 19, 2021.

Last update: October 19, 2021

Applying some basic nutritional advice for insulin resistance has been shown to an effective tool in the prevention and treatment of this situation. Without a doubt, it is important to take it into account, since the incidence of this condition is increasing globally.

Medical treatment is often accompanied by lifestyle changes, such as a program of physical activity, good nutrition, and rest. These habits are considered essential, since they can modify some risk factors for this condition. So what to consider when it comes to nutrition? We will detail it in the following space.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin is a hormone with very important functions in the body. These include blood glucose control and lipid and protein metabolism. Specific, it is secreted by the pancreas in response to high blood sugar levels.

The hormone signals the cells that glucose is available; they capture it and use it to perform their specific functions. Consequently, the presence of sugar in the bloodstream decreases.

In general, this system works normally in the population. Nevertheless, sometimes cells stop recognizing insulin and do not react properly. There arises what is known as “insulin resistance” or “loss of insulin sensitivity.”

In this situation, glucose continues to circulate in the blood and the pancreas secretes even more insulin to lower these levels. Because of this, a spiral reaction occurs in which insulin and sugar are constantly elevated.

The long-term consequences can be damage to the pancreas, nonalcoholic fatty liver or type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. If cells don’t recognize it, insulin resistance occurs. In this condition, blood glucose levels rise above normal.

Causes of loss of insulin sensitivity

The exact reasons for insulin resistance are unknown to date. However, certain triggers do stand out. Among these, the ones that cannot be modified are the following:

  • Age.
  • Family history of diabetes mellitus.
  • Pre-existing diseases.

Meanwhile, Certain factors can be improved through lifestyle. These include the following:

  • Sedentary life.
  • Overweight and excess abdominal fat.
  • Inflammation.
  • Eating in excessive quantities.
  • Diets with a high presence of lipids (especially saturated).

As can be seen, many of these factors are related to diet. Thus, some nutritional tips for insulin resistance are worth putting into practice.

8 nutritional tips against insulin resistance

Applying dietary changes is one of the first steps to address this situation. To get positive results, you have to make it balanced, with healthy foods and low in simple carbohydrates. Let’s see in detail what changes can be applied.

1. Prevent and treat overweight and obesity

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the first considerations in preventing this health problem. So in case of overweight or obesity it is necessary to follow a proper diet.

But the total weight is not the only factor to take into account, since the way to store fat is also decisive. Belly fat is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance and consequently type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

2. Avoid overfeeding

The results of several studies with people subject to increased caloric intake show an increase in insulin resistance. It appears in different degrees, both in the short and long term. For this reason, It is advisable to adapt the energy inputs to individual needs.

3. Follow a low carbohydrate diet

One of the triggers of insulin resistance is sudden and continuous rises in blood sugar. Regarding this, it should be known that carbohydrates are the macronutrient that converts faster to glucose after digestion.

Therefore, limiting its presence in the diet can be positive. Yes indeed, It is important to know that not all carbohydrates behave in the same way. The best choices are whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

The ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet shows positive results in the management of type 2 diabetes. This disease is usually preceded by the appearance of insulin resistance. Thus, it may be logical to think that these types of diets can be positive in reversing the condition.

4. Increase your intake of vegetables

It is convenient to fill half the plate of the main meals with vegetables and low-starch vegetables. These can be raw, boiled, roasted, or in the form of a cream. There is a wide range of possibilities, for example, the following:

  • Green leafy vegetables.
  • Artichokes
  • Peppers.
  • Asparagus.
  • Zucchini.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Leeks
An abundant consumption of vegetables favors the control of insulin resistance.

5. Eat fresh fruit

Their suitability is often doubted due to the presence of sugars in their composition, but fruits are important in any type of diet. They are light, satiating and provide a good amount of fiber and nutrients. In this case, it is important to opt for fresh fruits, and if they can be eaten with their skin on, much better. Preserves in syrup or fruit juices are not suitable.

6. Choose the right fats and lean proteins

Along with whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, fats and lean proteins are the other relevant food groups for a good daily diet. The ideal is to include them in the main meals and snacks. Some options are as follows:

  • Low fat meat.
  • Fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Derivatives of soybeans.
  • Vegetables.
  • Nuts.
  • Dairy (no added sugar).
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Avocados
  • Olives

7. Avoid ultra-processed

These types of food products are poor in nutrients, they contain notable amounts of saturated and hydrogenated fats and an excess of added sugar. Therefore, they are not advisable.

In addition, they tend to be very palatable, digest quickly and are consumed in large quantities. This impacts blood glucose spikes, total calorie intake, and risk of obesity.

8. Practice intermittent fasting

This practice is a dietary tool that has shown good results against insulin resistance, since the restriction of food favors the decrease of glucose in the blood.

Even the simple act of changing schedules (avoiding late meals) and concentrating intakes in reduced time windows is beneficial for metabolism.

Beyond Nutritional Advice on Insulin Resistance: Lifestyle

The diet is one of the pillars to reverse this situation, as it provides specific nutrients and allows to improve some of its triggers (such as being overweight or excess sugar). Nevertheless, implementing other changes is essential to maintain these positive results in the long term.

Practice physical exercise

In the long term, sedentary lifestyle is related to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and prediabetes. To counteract it, all types of activity are valid, although the practice of high intensity exercises stands out.

Reduce stress

Before the appearance of the feeling of stress, the body secretes two hormones; adrenaline and cortisol. These are necessary to face that eventual situation that generates concern. However, in return they prevent the normal functioning of insulin.

In addition, as indicated by the authors of this study published in Journal of Epidemiology, the elevated cortisol favors the accumulation of abdominal fat and stimulates the obtaining of glucose from lipids. Therefore, if stress does not improve, blood glucose levels remain permanently high.

Get the right hours of sleep

In recent years, lack of sleep has been identified as a new risk factor for loss of insulin sensitivity. In fact, a partial deprivation in one night can affect. Although this situation is observed, at the moment the exact mechanisms that allow it are unknown.

A good quality of sleep is positively associated with the control of blood glucose levels.

Healthy habits and nutritional advice are key in insulin resistance

Insulin is an important hormone with many functions in the body. A low sensitivity to it affects the normal functioning of the pancreas and blood sugar levels. Thus, over time, it leads to other health problems.

There are many routines that can be implemented on a day-to-day basis, both to prevent insulin resistance and to treat it once established. The basis of the diet is vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

The carbohydrate intake should be moderate and it is essential to avoid foods with added sugar, hydrogenated fats and refined flours. A good starting point is to follow the Mediterranean diet, since it meets all these requirements.

In addition, it provides a series of specific nutrients that have been shown to be very positive in both glycemic control and body weight. In any case, each person has their own starting point. Therefore, these tips must be adapted to each particular case.

In this sense, the ideal is to seek professional help from the nutritionist and the doctor. They will evaluate individual characteristics and determine the best plan to bring this condition under control.

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