Obesity and diabetes are some of the biggest health problems in the world. More than 85% of type 2 diabetes patients are either overweight or obese, with the underlying cause being insulin resistance.
What is insulin and insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It plays a central role in regulating and controlling blood sugar levels.
You can think of insulin as a “gatekeeper”. Its main job is to unlock and allow glucose to enter cells.
When everything is normal, insulin regularly sends signals to the liver, muscles and fat cells to notify these tissues and organs to absorb glucose from the blood as fuel.
Poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle can cause chronic inflammation. As a result, cells develop resistance to insulin, which is insulin resistance.
When this happens, the cells have “turned a blind eye” to the presence of insulin, and therefore cannot receive the glucose uptake signal from insulin.
The direct consequence of insulin resistance is that the cells cannot absorb nutrients normally. They will then send wrong signals to the brain and make the brain think that the body is starving. The result is that the brain will send out a command (hunger) again and you will continue to eat.
In fact, since your body is not lacking in nutrients, where does the excess glucose in your body go?
The answer is that it is stored as fat, especially in the internal organs, abdomen and buttocks.
Once the problem of insulin resistance is solved, many other health problems, such as metabolic syndrome, being overweight and pre-diabetes, will also be solved.
To improve insulin sensitivity, you must first start with a healthy diet.
The best way to eat a healthy diet is to reduce the intake of carbohydrates and sugars. Foods such as white rice, noodles, bread, pasta, biscuits or highly processed foods and sweets will be digested quickly and increase blood sugar. The result puts extra pressure on the pancreas.
Now, the question is, what should you eat if you have insulin resistance?
The following are some of the best foods to add to your daily diet.
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They are also low in calories which have little effect on blood sugar. Especially those vegetables with low starch content.
- brussels sprouts
Fruits are also an important source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, most fruits are high in natural sugar called fructose. Eating too much fructose can increase blood sugar.
Choose fruits with a low glycemic index and high fiber content, for example:
- dragon fruit
It is best to eat fresh, whole fruits instead of fruit juice.
Generally speaking, fruit juice is very high in fructose. In addition, it lacks fiber
Without fiber which increases bulk to make you feel full, you can easily consume more calories and fructose than you realize. By doing so, it may potentially affect your blood sugar and cause weight gain.
Dairy products provide you with plenty of protein and calcium, which help promote the health of teeth and bones. You should choose unsweetened milk and yogurt for the best benefits.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you can try plant milk instead of regular milk, such as almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk. However, the protein content in vegetable milk is slightly lower.
4. Legumes and soy products
Legumes are an excellent source of fiber. In addition, they have very little effect on blood sugar. Beans and soy products are also the main sources of protein for vegetarians.
- green bean
- red bean
- black bean
- lima bean
Foods like eggs, lean meat or seafood are rich in protein, which can replenish energy.
Similar to dietary fiber, protein can increase the feeling of fullness, especially when supplementing some protein before and after physical exercise. It not only increases energy and repairs damaged muscles but also reduces fat and promotes muscle mass.
Protein-rich foods include:
- Livestock: beef, pork, lamb
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, rainbow trout
- Shellfish: lobster, shrimp, scallops, oysters, clams, crab
- Beans and soy products
6. Healthy fats
There are many sources of fat in a diet, However, not all fats are healthy. Excessive intake of unhealthy fats can increase your weight and cause many health problems.
Many processed foods contain trans fats. Foods such as cookies, biscuits, french fries, margarine, sausage and fried food, etc.
Eating too much trans fat can easily lead to insulin resistance and inflammation. As a result, it may not only make you gain weight but also increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Instead, try to eat more healthy fats (unsaturated fats), especially those rich in Omega-3. These fats not only help you to lose weight but may also be beneficial for your heart.
- avocado and avocado oil
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts
- Seeds: flaxseed and linseed oil, chia seeds
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- Fatty fish: salmon, tuna, sardines
- full-fat greek yogurt
- grass-fed butter
These healthy fats have no effect on blood sugar. They are conducive to weight loss and can improve overall health.
Insulin resistance is a driving factor leading to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
If you have insulin resistance, the best thing to do is to change your eating habits. Try to focus on a low-carb diet, by eating more fiber-rich vegetables and fruits, as well as, healthy fat and protein.
In this way, you can effectively reverse insulin resistance and improve overall health.