In our fast-paced world, where convenience often trumps health, conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes are becoming increasingly prevalent. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels.

The role of insulin is to act as a key that unlocks cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used for energy. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin therefore glucose is less effectively absorbed which leads to elevated blood sugar levels. If insulin resistance isn’t corrected it will end up in a diabetes diagnosis.

Insulin has 3 main roles:

  • Glucose Regulation: helps cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, preventing elevated blood sugar levels.

  • Energy Storage: excess glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen, and insulin facilitates this storage process.

  • Fat Storage: insulin promotes the storage of fat in adipose tissue, and imbalances can contribute to weight gain.

As you can see it’s more than just regulating blood sugar, it can really affect weight. This is why the whole idea of fasting came into play, reducing insulin levels from eating less often can result in better management of blood sugar as well as the use of stored fat as fuel when paired with a ketogenic type of diet.

Here are some strategies regarding diet and lifestyle that can help reduce insulin levels and improve your overall health in a comprehensive manner:

  • Bring in Whole Foods: prioritize whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits and protein.

  • Incorporate Fasting: start at least with the bare minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. When possible increase to 16-24 hours with proper guidance and honoring your stage in life and hormones.

  • Fiber for the Win: Fiber rich foods like vegetables, fruits and seed can help slow down the absorption of glucose.

  • Conscious Eating: practice mindful eating to become more aware of hunger and fullness cues, preventing overeating. Are you eating emotionally? Dig into the reasons for your behavior around food so you can cultivate a better relationship with food.

  • Movement: engaging in both aerobic and strength training to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization.

  • Adequate Sleep: prioritize 7-9 hours of quality sleep/night, insufficient sleep can lead to an increase in ghrelin, our hunger hormone.

  • Stress Management: cortisol, our stress hormone, is known to increase blood sugar levels which will trigger the release of insulin. Some stress reducing activities include: meditation, yoga and deep breathing.

  • Bring in Cinnamon: some studies suggest that cinnamon may help improve insulin sensitivity. You can incorporate cinnamon as a spice in your dishes or also in tea form.

  • Hydration: more than just water but electrolytes and minerals as well. Dehydration can affect blood sugar levels.

  • Blood Test: fasting glucose only tells you part of your blood glucose story, if you want to see your blood sugar behavior in the past few months you will want to test hemoglobin A1C, and you can also test fasting insulin. This is specially important in those with family history of diabetes.

Taking a holistic approach to manage insulin levels involves making mindful choices in diet, lifestyle, and potentially incorporating supplements. Remember, individual responses may vary, and its crucial to work closely with a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor to tailor a plan that suits your unique needs. By nurturing your body with wholesome foods, staying active, and fostering overall well-being, you can take proactive steps toward better blood sugar control and improved health. And if that doesn’t motivate you enough, insulin is a hormone, which means it can affect your other hormones. By regulating insulin you will benefit all your hormones in one way or another.