Lifestyle Measures to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Whether you suffer from type 2 diabetes or are afraid your body is becoming insulin resistant, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to address your insulin levels. Exercise, dietary changes, and reducing stress can improve your insulin sensitivity.
Workouts and Insulin Levels
Regular exercise is perhaps the best way to regulate insulin levels. When you exercise, your body moves sugar into muscles for storage, leading to less insulin resistance. Depending on the type of exercise, workouts can improve insulin levels for 24-48 hours after you finish your workout. Cardiovascular exercise has been found to moderate insulin levels. A 2008 study found 60 minutes of cycling increases whole-body insulin sensitivity for 12-24 hours after the workout ends.
While any exercise is helpful in addressing insulin, a 2019 meta-analysis on the relationship between exercise and insulin levels found that high-intensity cardio or resistance training are the best types of workouts for decreasing insulin resistance. Workouts could include brisk walks, runs, high-intensity interval training, or weightlifting practices with shorter recovery times.
Diet and Insulin Levels
Dietary changes can also help with insulin resistance. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and eating more soluble fiber are two of the most effective dietary changes.
There are many reasons to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and increasing insulin sensitivity is one of them. A 2019 study found low levels of vegetables and fruit in participants’ diets led to higher levels of insulin and an increased risk of insulin resistance. If you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, you might be putting yourself at risk for insulin resistance.
Colorful fruits and vegetables in particular help with insulin resistance. Try to add as many colors of fruits and vegetables to your plate as possible.
Soluble fiber offers more health benefits than insoluble fiber and can help moderate insulin levels. A 2013 study found women who ate more soluble fiber had higher insulin sensitivity than those who ate less. If you want to add more soluble fiber to your diet, try legumes, oatmeal, or flaxseed.
Stress and Insulin Levels
Stress can lead to an inability to regulate sugar in the body and to higher insulin levels. When you are stressed, you produce more cortisol which hinders your body’s ability to process insulin. This is true even from a young age, as a 2010 study found when investigating the relationship between cortisol levels and insulin resistance in adolescents.
If you’re looking to make lifestyle changes to address your insulin levels, working with a holistic health practitioner is a great first step. Thrive Carolinas offers medical nutrition services, yoga and group fitness, and other lifestyle programs which can help lower your insulin resistance.