The Wellness Library

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part Two

by | Jun 7, 2023 | Wellness

Last month we laid the framework for what insulin resistance is, signs to look for, and how to test for it. Like anything, it doesn’t stop there. We want to make sure you have a full picture of what’s next. 

I learned I have insulin resistance, now what?

Great question. If you know us, you know a diagnosis means we are just getting started and it’s time to really dig in. The best part of integrative medicine is we will never leave you with simply a diagnosis–you and your body are so much more than that.

RELATED: Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part One

As we begin to peel the onion, we recommend checking your sex hormones and adrenals as they have quite an impact on this entire spectrum. Here’s what we look for:

  • Low DHEA, estradiol, or progesterone 
  • High or low cortisol

If you’re a female, depending on the timing of your cycle, you could be more prone to insulin resistance. During the luteal phase, women are more insulin resistant, as the body sends signals to consume carbs in order to synthesize progesterone.

Additionally, we encourage you to request getting checked for yeast or gastrointestinal candida overgrowth. Dysbiosis can create self-fermentation and increase blood glucose levels. Monitoring what you’re eating–even going so far as wearing a continuous glucose monitor can be incredibly insightful. Something you’re eating may be causing your blood sugar to spike and not know it!

RELATED: Continuous Glucose Monitoring: It’s Not Just for Diabetes

Nutrition modifications

We recommend avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and high glycemic foods like rice, pasta, and white flour. Gluten contains a protein called amylopectin that raises glucose levels. Even natural sweeteners like honey and agave can spike blood sugar.

Prioritizing your plate start is a fun way to feel empowered to make some great choices. We love starting with protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and then move to carbohydrates. Adding apple cider vinegar to your meal can help support glucose metabolism and aid in digestion of heavy proteins. 

Try coupling fiber WITH vitamin C which reduces leptin and therefore reduces insulin. Quick note as many folks think vitamin C and think juice. Juices have vitamin C but NO fiber. Juice will send glucose straight to the bloodstream, which triggers an insulin spike. Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily which will slow digestion of sugars and keep you full longer.

Another great tip to curb your appetite by fueling your brain with ketone-rich foods coconut oil and MCT oil, along with omega-3 rich foods. Food and drinks like alcohol, trans fats, nitrites and nitrates (bacon, lunch meat), anything with white flour, processed cheese contain ceramides–which are waxy lipid molecules. 

Empty carbohydrates (aka sugar) can be extra problematic when it comes to insulin resistance. The average overweight American consumes over 700 calories a day in sweetened beverages. And, although diet drinks are calorie free, they also contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Food for thought. 

RELATED: What is a Ketogenic Diet–And What Does Your Doctor Think of It

Lifestyle modifications

Start small! If you can work to be active for about 10 minutes after eating to activate muscles, thereby moving glucose into muscle cells rather than depositing glucose into the liver or as adipose tissue. We love to see our clients do some level of movement each day. It could be focusing on NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). 

You may consider intermittent fasting to see if that practice shifts insulin resistance symptoms.. Going a minimum of 12 hours without a meal will train your body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. Transition to become fat-adapted by reducing your current eating window by half an hour per week until you reach your goal.

Supplement suggestions

*Note we always recommend working with a practitioner (like us!) to guide supplements specific to you.

There is research supporting the use of berberine, chromium and NAC in promoting healthy glucose tolerance levels and influencing insulin receptor activity. Cinnamon sharpens the sensitivity of the insulin receptor. Add a dash to your coffee or tea!

Habits that can hinder blood sugar balance

Lack of sleep impacts your stress hormones, which leads to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. Regulating your circadian rhythm by getting good exposure to daytime light will promote better sleep quality. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

Stress, whether it’s psychological or physical, has a negative effect on insulin. Stress stimulates a sympathetic response, or “fight or flight” response, which physiologically increases glucose levels to prepare the body to run away or fight a bear. The brain does not always differentiate life-threatening vs non-life-threatening stressors, so an argument with your partner, multitasking, or a work presentation can stimulate the same response in the body!

Well, that was a LOT to take in. We hope this helps frame this layered topic and gives you some talking points should you need to tackle this topic.


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