If you’ve found yourself in the middle of a blood sugar crisis, it may feel like you have no other option than to go to the doctor and start the prescription game (or perhaps you even have already).
This is especially true if you’re not familiar with the role of insulin in blood sugar control, or are at a loss when it comes to how your body processes certain foods.
First, know that you’re not alone. Second, before you give up hope on improving your blood sugar control, take a moment to learn a little about how you can improve your blood sugar issues naturally. And rest assured: you’ll learn much more than how to simply “eat healthier.” Below we’ll dive into exact, actionable steps you can take to make a drastic change in how you handle your blood sugar.
What is Insulin Sensitivity?
In essence, insulin sensitivity describes how efficiently your body responds to the blood sugar-regulating effect of insulin. People who are insulin sensitive require very little insulin to be released in order to bring down their blood sugar levels after consuming glucose - this reduces the workload of your pancreas to produce excess insulin, and in turn lowers your risk for developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
People who aren’t insulin sensitive, or who have developed insulin resistance, require more insulin to be released in order to bring down their blood sugar levels. This is largely due to a diet high in processed foods and sugars that cause your blood sugar to skyrocket, resulting in your cells becoming desensitized to the effect of insulin. They “resist” insulin’s attempt to regulate your sugar levels, which causes your body to release more to try and force them to work. This leads to wild blood sugar swings.
As such, improving insulin sensitivity will help balance your blood sugar by improving your cells’ ability to use insulin.
6 Of The Best Natural Ways To Increase Insulin Sensitivity and Improve Blood Sugar Control
So how exactly do you go about improving your insulin sensitivity? Read on to discover the best natural ways.
1. ExerciseMoving your body is one of the best ways to teach your body to use insulin properly. This is because when you exercise - and more specifically - when you strength train, you train your muscle cells to take up and burn more glucose. This helps remove sugars from your blood, where they’re used instead by your muscles for energy.
Interestingly, this happens not only during exercise, but also for several hours afterward. In fact, studies have shown that exercise increases insulin sensitivity for up to 16 hours after a workout session (1). And the more muscle you build, the more glucose your muscles pull from your blood to use as energy throughout the day, resulting in more balanced blood sugar levels.
Many studies show results from strength training sessions lasting roughly 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week. Start with at least three days a week to begin seeing blood sugar benefits.
2. Probiotics and PrebioticsProbiotics, the strains of good bacteria that share a home inside our guts, also play a key role in maintaining insulin sensitivity and regulating blood sugar levels. Studies show that by increasing the amount of good bacteria in our guts - which also improves gut health - can significantly improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control, as well as reduce inflammation caused by consistently high blood sugar levels (2).
Try adding more fermented foods to your daily diet, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut or almond yogurt, and kombucha. In addition, you can also look for a high quality probiotic supplement like DE111® found in SugaReset™to give your good gut bacteria a serious boost (more on this below).
To complement your probiotic consumption, you’ll also want to consider eating more prebiotic foods. These foods help selectively feed the good bacteria in your gut, making them stronger and causing them to multiply in order to keep bad bacteria in check. Examples of prebiotic foods are: artichokes, dandelion greens, chicory root, garlic, onions, apples, and bananas.
3. Weight LossWeight and diseases like diabetes have been proven to be inextricably linked. The consumption of highly processed, blood-sugar-spiking processed foods not only easily contributes to fat gain, but also creates the perfect storm of reactions in your body to develop insulin resistance and diabetes.
When your body is continually flooded with more carbohydrates (aka, glucose) than it can use, the excess glucose is then stored as fat. Meanwhile, as you repeatedly flood your body with too much glucose, it begins to become less sensitive to insulin like we spoke of earlier.
A solution to managing this aspect of blood sugar control is to begin to lose weight. Research shows that fat loss can significantly help improve insulin sensitivity by reducing inflammation that messes with the signals insulin needs to do its job (3).
4. Controlling StressStress, whether physical, emotional, or mental, is another huge factor in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. This is because when you’re under stress, your body assumes it needs extra energy to fight or run away from whatever is stressing you, so it releases extra glucose from your liver and raises your blood sugar levels to supply it.
Not only does this result in chronically elevated blood sugar levels, but research has also shown intense stress can rapidly lead to developing insulin resistance (4). Now, imagine if the stress continued for weeks, or even months at a time? You could be setting yourself up for developing diabetes.
To get a handle on your stress levels, try to add small but effective techniques into your days that help relax your nervous system. Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, breathing exercises, going for walks, and even art can all help bring you into the moment and out of a state of worry and anxiety.
5. Reducing Carbohydrate IntakeAs you’ve probably noticed by now, increased carbohydrate intake (and eating the wrong types of carbohydrates) is one of the main contributing factors that can send your blood sugar into a loop. This is because refined carbohydrates are essentially pure glucose and have the ability to spike your blood sugar in a way that whole fruits and veggies with fiber, won’t.
When you keep eating these sugar-spiking foods, your cells become overworked and “used to” the constant release of insulin to lower your blood sugar levels. So, instead of your cells responding to insulin, they begin to become “resistant” and don’t let the insulin do its job. This leads to chronically elevated blood sugar and, eventually, full-on diabetes.
Now, if you remove processed carbohydrates from packaged foods, sweets, flours, sugars and sugary drinks, and candy, and replace them with natural sources like sweet potato and low sugar fruits like berries, you’ll naturally reduce your blood sugar spikes. This will require less insulin to be released, which will train your body to become more sensitive to it once again.
Make an effort to change your mind about food. Like the saying goes... "Eat to Live" not "Live to Eat"! This change alone will help you to make better food choices.
6. Avoiding Inflammatory FatsWhen it comes to preventing and improving insulin sensitivity, controlling inflammation is extremely important. Remember how we spoke of probiotics and how through reducing inflammation they help improve insulin sensitivity? It turns out you can further benefit from this by reducing your overall inflammation levels by removing a dangerous, often hidden addition to your diet: inflammatory fat.
Inflammatory fats include trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and other commonly used oils like corn, soy, cottonseed, canola, and sunflower. These are also called omega-6 or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and they’re found in abundance in processed and packaged foods. The problem with these oils is that they’re highly inflammatory, and we often get above and beyond the amounts we should.
In fact, if we continue to eat too many omega-6 fatty acids (which are also found in nuts and nut butters, as well as commercial meats) without balancing it with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, we will experience constant low-grade inflammation throughout our bodies. This has been shown to actively promote insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes (5).
To avoid excess inflammation caused by these types of fats, try to weed out your consumption of seed oils and switch to virgin olive oil or coconut oil for cooking. Also, focus on consuming wild caught fish, which is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3's, limit your consumption of nuts (a small handful of nuts every day won’t hurt!), and replace hydrogenated fats like margarines and spreads with fats from whole foods like avocado and coconut.
Specific Ingredients That Increase Insulin Sensitivity
Now that you know a few techniques and things to avoid to help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, let’s take a look at additional ingredients you can add to your regime to give your body a boost in the right direction.
Zinc has been shown in multiple studies to improve how your body responds to glucose and improve insulin sensitivity. On the flip side, not getting enough zinc can also cause your body to respond less to the effects of insulin - the first step toward insulin resistance (6).
2. ChromiumChromium is another trace mineral that is strongly tied with insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Studies show that people who have Type 2 diabetes actually have lower levels of chromium than those that don’t, and that chromium can also help reduce sugar cravings (7).
- Side note: While chromium works well on its own to help improve insulin sensitivity, it’s even more beneficial when combined with niacin and L-cysteine to formulate a uniquely effective form of chromium called chromium dinicocysteinate. If you’re interested in a supplement that contains Zychrome®, click here.
3. MagnesiumMagnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our cells, and plays a key role with insulin in managing your glucose levels. Research on magnesium shows it helps to both improve insulin sensitivity and maintain balanced glucose control in Type 2 diabetics, and also that a lack of magnesium in your cells can directly contribute to insulin resistance (8).
Delphinol® is a pure extract of Maqui berry that consists of extremely potent antioxidants that fight free radicals and the ever-important inflammation we spoke of earlier. Studies have shown the type of antioxidants in Delphinol® help support healthy blood sugar levels, enhance insulin sensitivity, and slow absorption of glucose in your intestines (9, 10).
5. DE111® Probiotic
As we saw earlier, probiotics are a key addition to your diet if you want to help improve insulin sensitivity. While you can (and should) get probiotics through foods, you can also consider supplementing with high-quality probiotics in order to make sure you’re getting enough to truly improve the health of your gut.
The problem with most probiotic supplements is that they are easily destroyed before they get a chance to make it to your stomach, either by light or heat, or even stomach acid.
This is where DE111® comes in: this probiotic is resistant to stomach acid, doesn’t require refrigeration, and remains stable for 24 months on the shelf.
InSea2® is a supplement derived from wild brown seaweed, and contains key enzyme inhibitors that are involved in the digestion of glucose. In essence, InSea2® helps slow down how quickly your body converts the carbs and sugars you eat into pure glucose, which ultimately keeps your blood sugar from spiking. In addition, human clinical trials have shown InSea2® also improve insulin sensitivity (11).
Click Here ==> To learn about a supplement that includes all 6 of these insulin sensitizers and slows carb absorption.
As you can see, there are many, many ways you can help improve your insulin sensitivity (or perhaps even prevent insulin resistance from taking hold) naturally, without the nasty side effects of many pharmaceuticals.
- Borghouts LB and Keizer HA. Exercise and insulin sensitivity: a review. Int J Sports Med. 2000 Jan. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10683091>
- Kim, YA et al. Probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and insulin sensitivity. Nutr Res Rev. 2017 Oct 17. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29037268>
- Schenk, Simon et al. Improved insulin sensitivity after weight loss and exercise training is mediated by a reduction in plasma fatty acid mobilization, not enhanced oxidative capacity. J Physiol. 2009 Oct 15. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2770158/>
- Li Li et al. Acute Psychological Stress Results in the Rapid Development of Insulin Resistance. J Endocrinol. 2013 May; 217(2): 175–184. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3804337/>
- Li Chen et al. Mechanisms Linking Inflammation to Insulin Resistance. International Journal of Endocrinology. Volume2015 (2015) <https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2015/508409/>
- Faure, P. et al. Zinc and insulin sensitivity. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1992 Jan-Mar. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1375070>
- A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. Diabetes Educ. 2004. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15208835>
- Martha Rodríguez-Morán et al. Oral Magnesium Supplementation Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Metabolic Control in Type 2 Diabetic Subjects. Diabetes Care 2003 Apr. <http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/4/1147>
- Hidalgo, J. et al. Delphinol® standardized maqui berry extract reduces postprandial blood glucose increase in individuals with impaired glucose regulation by novel mechanism of sodium glucose cotransporter inhibition. Panminerva Med. 2014 Jun. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24861886>
- Panminerva Medica. Delphinol® standardized maqui berry extract significantly lowers blood glucose and improves blood lipid profile in prediabetic individuals in three-month clinical trial. 2016 Sept. <http://www.delphinol.com/wp-content/themes/delphinol/papers/2016_delphinol.pdf>
- Laval University. Brown Seaweed Extract on Glycemic Control and Body Weight (Algues). 2017 March 9. <https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03075943>6