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ERSOY: Should we worry about insulin resistance? Part 2

What we can do about it?

All metabolic diseases have one thing in common — insulin resistance. It is very much the missing that your physician may not talk to you about, yet it is critically important.

Metabolic health is equal to metabolism, but it does not mean only how fast your metabolism works. Metabolism is the balance of all the chemical reactions in the body, and the most important one of those is the peptide hormone insulin.

Understanding the relationship between insulin resistance, metabolism and mitochondrial health is critical for choosing the correct therapeutic strategy, and enhancing mitochondrial function could potentially improve insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic health. Lifestyle interventions, such as exercise and changes in diet, play a major role in managing insulin resistance and have been shown to improve mitochondrial density and function.

When we hear the word insulin the first thing that comes to mind is probably glucose and diabetes. Most physicians, however, will not consider checking fasting insulin levels. When your insulin levels are elevated you can not burn fat as an energy source, but did you know that you can have normal blood glucose levels and still have insulin resistance?

It can take up to 20 years for blood glucose levels to rise, so if you are trying to eat healthily and lose weight, and your blood markers are normal you probably should consider checking your fasting insulin levels. Also, ideally, you could check your inflammation blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP). When insulin resistance is high, it can be a sign of inflammation in the body.

Regular exercise, especially weight training which helps gain muscle and prevent potential muscle loss, is very much important to keep your insulin within a normal level. Muscles require more energy, which increases the metabolic rate and thus insulin does not need to work harder to balance the body’s blood glucose levels. Muscle is a key regulator of blood glucose, and building muscle through resistance training can significantly improve insulin sensitivity.

In your diet you can prioritize protein, as eating a high protein diet and consuming some protein with each meal can help lower insulin levels and also help prevent muscle loss. Especially as we age, the body requires more protein due to its low absorption rate.

A low carbohydrate diet, especially when reducing the intake of refined carbs and sugars, can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity as well. And high fiber foods, such as vegetables and whole fruits, can help improve glycemic control.

It is also important to consume healthy fats, as fat is the only macronutrient that does not increase insulin. Incorporating sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fish, avocados, nuts and olive oil can improve lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity. And it is important to give enough time between meals — which ideally means no snacking, as a decrease in meal frequency will help insulin work less hard.

Reducing stress is easy to say and often hard to do. However, it is very important for your health. You may need to take some time for yourself, maybe listen to music, read or do some simple breath work. You can find whatever works best for you. However, do remember that when you have low stress your sleep, your relationships with others and your overall health will improve too.

The next time that you go to your doctor or health care provider, ask about adding fasting insulin blood markers to your next lab work. Reversing and preventing insulin resistance really requires focusing on the lifestyle changes mentioned here and is crucial for long-term health.

References:

National Library of Medicine, PubMed. “Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Intake?”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924200/

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.
Source: The Garden Island

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