Insulin resistance is a condition that occurs as a result of excess sugar and carbohydrates in the diet. When we eat foods containing sugar or starch such as candy, bread, pasta etc our pancreas releases insulin into the blood in order to allow our cells to absorb the sugar for energy. When we eat too many carbohydrates (sugar and starch) our cells become overwhelmed and refuse to accept any more sugar. Your pancreas begins to release more and more insulin to force the sugar and starch into our cells. Eventually our pancreas cannot keep up with all the insulin it needs to make in order to force the excess sugar into our cells. Insulin resistance is often the forerunner of full-blown type II diabetes, and as of 2000, it was estimated that 25%-35% of the population is insulin resistant to some degree. Although the idea that 1 in 4 people suffer from this metabolic disorder is rather shocking, the good news is that insulin resistance is both treatable and preventable. This condition is directly attributable to the Western diet (low fat, high sugar and inadequate protein) in many instances, and can be managed and even reversed through lifestyle and dietary modifications. The starting point for any individualized plan is adequate protein intake, healthy fats, and low-carb, low-glycemic index foods. In addition, there are various dietary supplements which may help increase insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium – magnesium deficiency is extremely common among those who are insulin-resistant, and higher magnesium levels lead to increased insulin sensitivity.
Calcium – for those consuming very little calcium (500mg/day or less), supplementation may significantly improve sensitivity.
Potassium – potassium deficiency has been found to lead to insulin resistance, which may be reversed when potassium levels normalize.
Zinc – low zinc level have also been implicated in insulin resistance, though the research is not conclusive.
Chromium – animal studies have shown that a chromium deficiency can result in reduced insulin sensitivity, and that low chromium levels impair the body’s ability to process glucose.
Vanadyl Sulfate – supplementation with this trace mineral showed improvement of insulin sensitivity for type II diabetics, though not for non-diabetics.
B7 (biotin) – vitamin B7 may lower post-meal blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. It has been shown to improve glucose metabolism in diabetics.
L-Carnitine, Taurine, and L-Arginine all show promise for improving insulin sensitivity.
Fish oils – fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty EFAs, which have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in animal studies.
Coenzyme Q10 – has been shown to lower glucose levels and fasting insulin levels.
A-Lipoic Acid – has also shown promise for improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
Milk Thistle – has been shown to help lower glucose and insulin levels.
Gymnema Sylvestry – An herb that helps decrease your craving for sugar while balancing your blood glucose levels
While supplementation alone will not reverse insulin resistance, supplementation, combined with a personalized diet and exercise plan, can play a significant role. Nutritional modifications are the most important tool for managing this condition.