When you’re first unwillingly christened as “diabetic” by your doctor, you instantly have to learn a new laundry list of terms: insulin, bolus, glucose, HbA1c—and that’s just to start! You also have to learn the 101 things you should do in order to avoid the even longer list of potential health complications.
One of the things people with diabetes are encouraged to do is improve insulin sensitivity. Improving insulin sensitivity can improve or even reverse type 2. And it’s not just those with type 2 who should take note. Improving insulin resistance can help someone control their weight, avoid high blood sugar, and protect heart health.
Below is a list of 10 ways you can help improve your insulin sensitivity. Check it out and see where you can make tweaks to improve your health!
1. Up Your Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you’re tired of hearing about how you should cut fat, take heart! Not all fat has to go. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity when compared to placebo groups. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, and insulin resistance is linked to inflammation. Unless you have a deficiency, it’s best to satisfy nutritional needs with diet, so look for omega-3 fats in foods like canola oil, flaxseeds, soybeans, sardines, tuna, salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, trout, and shellfish.
Oh, and even healthy fats are high in calories, so be sure to cut out some less-nutritious fat sources to make room for better options!
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2. Go for more soluble fiber
We know that fiber is good for, ahem, keeping things moving along. But soluble fiber, the type that comes from plants, can’t be fully broken down by the body, which means it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. It also slows down the process of food leaving the stomach, which means you’ll stay full for longer and your blood sugar levels will be steadier.
Soluble fiber also helps improve insulin sensitivity. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include beans, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears, nectarines, carrots, apricots, apples, and oats, and many other unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
3. Pump Some Iron
Resistance training can help you build lean muscle mass, which helps you control weight and increase metabolism. Don’t worry ladies—you won’t bulk up even with a challenging weight training routine. Most women lack the testosterone to get bulky muscles, but they can definitely get nice and toned!
Studies investigating the effects of weight training programs found that they did improve insulin sensitivity, but programs should be somewhat challenging. If you’re looking to improve insulin sensitivity and strength, go for a program that has you training the major muscle groups two or three days a week on non-consecutive days. Your doctor or a personal trainer will be able to provide personalized guidelines, but a basic rule of thumb is that your muscles should be pretty spent about 10 to 12 reps. If they aren’t, go heavier!