Insulin is produced by the pancreas. It’s job is to transport glucose (sugar) to your muscles, organs, and cells to give them the energy they need in order to function. It also serves to help eliminate excess glucose in the blood stream that the body doesn’t need.
When insulin is absent or cannot perform it’s job properly, blood sugar rises.
For some diabetics, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and they have to supplement with man-made insulin; this is known as Type I diabetes.
For others, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells have become resistant to it. Over time, this insulin resistance leads to consistently high blood sugar levels, cell damage, and eventually, Type II diabetes.
While some genetic factors have been linked to insulin resistance, food and lifestyle habits make a much larger impact.
Understanding which foods spike blood sugar and which support stable sugar levels is crucial in making beneficial choices at meal times.
The following foods help to heal insulin resistance:
High-fiber vegetables, such as broccoli and peppers
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon
Protein-rich foods, including lean meats, fish, and nuts
Foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like fresh berries
Complex carbohydrates like beans and quinoa
Do your blood sugar a favor and avoid the following foods:
Boxed/processed foods and snacks
Sweets like candy and cupcakes
Items made with refined white flour like pasta and bread
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn
A diet rich in high quality protein, good fats, and plenty of fruits and veggies is a recipe for success!
Make sure to include one of each in every meal. For example, a piece of toast does not an insulin-friendly breakfast make. Instead, try a scrambled egg with a little cheese and a few slices of avocado, or a bowl of Greek yogurt with fresh berries sprinkled with cinnamon.
Food can be flavorful and healthful… we promise!
Find the times of the day that work best for you to eat. If you aren’t usually hungry in the mornings, start your day with a “bullet – proof coffee”, then have a mid-morning snack of almonds and turkey slices. If you get the 2:30 PM urge to hit the vending machine, have a bag of raw veggies and some hummus or pesto ready to go in the work fridge.
The key is to find the foods and eating patterns that work best for you and your blood sugar.
Not only are food choices important, but drink choices are, as well. Drink more water!
The human body literally cannot function without water. Instead of sweetened beverages like sodas, processed fruit juices, teas, and energy drinks, choose water. You will notice a huge in difference in how you feel on a daily basis, along with an improvement in your blood sugar.
When Happy Hour comes around, instead of reaching for a beer or sugary mixed drink, enjoy a glass of *red wine. You’ll be doing your heart and your stress levels a favor!
Physical activity also plays an important role in keeping blood sugar lower and more stable. Enjoy a peaceful walk around the neighborhood after dinner, play football in the backyard on Sunday, or try out the local dog park with your furry friend.
Being overweight can increases one’s risk for insulin resistance because excess fat secretes hormones that can interfere with insulin production and reception. Talk with your physician about your blood sugar, weight, and overall health goals.
Reducing stress levels can also benefit blood sugar. Daily meditation, prayer, or other relaxation techniques benefit not only your sanity, but sugar levels and health in general. Try slow, gentle stretching, deep breathing exercises, or an essential oil diffuser.
Be sure to get enough rest. Sleep is the body’s opportunity to repair and reset. Most adults need somewhere between 6 and 8 hours of sleep for optimal function. Everyone is different, so experiment a little to find the sleeping and waking times that benefit you the most.
Focus on relationships with family and friends. Not only will their presence keep you accountable to your commitment to a healthy life, but they can make it fun! Cook dinner with your kids or grandkids and teach them about good food choices. Enjoy that glass of red wine on the porch with your spouse after a long day. There is joy in a healthy life with family and friends.
Through these food and lifestyle habit updates, insulin resistance and type II diabetes can be greatly improved.