14 Natural Ways to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity

Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2022
14 Natural Ways to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity
Here are 14 natural ways to improve your insulin sensitivity

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that controls your blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to move into your cells. 

If your cells become insulin resistant, it makes it more difficult for glucose to enter your cells, resulting in high blood sugar levels which can damage blood vessels and organs. Your pancreas produces more insulin to compensate, which causes cellular fatigue and beta cell death.

Here are 14 natural ways to improve your insulin sensitivity.

14 natural ways to improve your insulin sensitivity

1. Cut down on carbs

Carbs can cause your insulin blood levels to increase, so limiting your carb intake is a simple way to help increase insulin sensitivity.

Opt for complex carbs over simple or refined carbs and limit your intake to 1-2 servings a meal. One serving equates to about 1 slice of bread.

2. Increase your fiber intake

Increase your intake of non-starchy, fiber-rich vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Because fiber delays carb digestion and sugar absorption, you will notice a more gradual increase in your blood sugar level after meals. Combining carbs with fiber-rich foods also helps lower the glycemic response in the body.

Foods high in fiber include leafy greens, legumes, avocados, raspberries, pears, oats, and pumpkin seeds.

3. Eat more high-quality protein

Protein regulates insulin production, resulting in a more gradual increase in blood sugar after a meal. Eating high-quality protein throughout the day can help you increase insulin sensitivity and provide you with sustained energy.

General protein requirements are about 0.36 to 0.5 grams per pound of body weight. Excellent sources of proteins include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, lentils, nuts, and seeds.

4. Practice intermittent fasting

Studies have shown that alternate day fasting or fasting every other day can reduce fasting insulin and insulin resistance in people with obesity and insulin resistance. In one study, there was a 52% reduction in fasting insulin and a 53% reduction in insulin resistance among those who fasted on alternate days, compared to 14% and 17% reductions, respectively, among those on a calorie-restricted diet.

5. Avoid trans fats

Trans fats are partly and fully hydrogenated oils that are commonly found in processed foods. They promote insulin resistance and have been linked to a slew of health issues ranging from heart disease to depression.

6. Increase magnesium intake

Magnesium functions as a natural insulin sensitizer, influencing insulin receptors in every cell of the body. Taking magnesium or eating foods high in magnesium may therefore help improve insulin sensitivity. 

Magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

7. Reduce sugar intake

Refined sugars are easily absorbed by the body, increasing blood glucose levels. An increase in blood sugar levels causes an overabundance of insulin to be produced. Avoid sodas, sports drinks, and other beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup, as these can increase insulin resistance.

8. Avoid late-night snacking

Late-night snacking often involves eating high-carb foods, which raises insulin levels and disrupts your circadian rhythm. This is because melatonin, the sleep hormone, is only released when insulin levels are lower. You may experience one sleepless night in the short run, but late-night snacking can entirely disrupt your hormone balance in the long run

9. Add more spices to your cooking

Some spices can increase insulin signaling to lean tissue cells, reducing the likelihood of energy being stored as fat. Such spices include cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, and pepper.

10. Eat smaller meals later in the day

Your body grows increasingly insulin-resistant as the day progresses. Therefore, a meal eaten in the evening will result in a higher blood sugar increase than a meal eaten in the morning.

As a result, many nutritionists recommend eating larger meals earlier in the day and a smaller meal at least 3 hours before bedtime to improve insulin sensitivity.

11. Drink green tea

Green tea is an excellent beverage for people who have or are at risk of type II diabetes. It contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, which may be responsible for the improvement in insulin sensitivity associated with green tea.

12. Get plenty of sleep

Studies have shown a link between poor sleep quality and poor insulin sensitivity. Sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of heart disease and type II diabetes. Try to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep a night.

13. Manage stress

Stress impairs your ability to control your blood sugar. Constant stress promotes the breakdown of nutrition and elevates stress hormone levels that cause the body to become more insulin resistant

14. Exercise

Exercise is vital for improving insulin sensitivity because your muscles and cells require fuel during and after exercise. Every 10% increase in muscle mass results in an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. Exercise also helps you lose weight, which can help you further enhance your insulin sensitivity.

Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2022
Image Source: iStock images

Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639

6 Ways to Naturally Reduce Insulin Resistance. https://beyondtype1.org/6-ways-naturally-reduce-insulin-resistance/