High insulin levels can lead to serious complications for people with diabetes. Producing too much insulin can result in insulin resistance, which causes not only prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes but also obesity, heart attack, stroke, and cancer. To learn how to lower high insulin levels, please read on:
Eat a Low Carb Diet
Carbohydrates, alongside protein and fat, are a macronutrient. Carbs raise insulin and blood sugar levels, which is why eating a low carb diet can help people lose weight and better control their diabetes.
Multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of low carb diets for lowering insulin levels and increasing insulin sensitivity, compared to other diets. In one study of subjects with metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by insulin resistance, participants on a low carb 1,500-calorie diet experienced an average of a 50 percent decrease in insulin levels. Participants who were on a low-fat 1,500-calorie diet experienced a 19 percent decrease.
Eat Smaller Portions
The amount of insulin the pancreas releases depends not only on the food you eat, but also on how much of it you consume. Eating too much of any type of food in one sitting can cause hyperinsulinemia, which is even more of a concern for obese people with insulin resistance.
Regardless of the food consumed, studies have consistently shown that eating fewer calories decreases insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity in individuals who are overweight and obese. The easiest way to decrease calories is by adopting portion control or calorie counting.
Cut Back on Sugars
While cutting back on calories in general is good, so is cutting back on certain foods, particularly sugar. In fact, sugar may be the most important food to avoid if you want to lower your insulin levels.
Numerous studies have shown that consuming high-sugar food like candy, fructose, table sugar, honey, and more results in significantly higher insulin levels when compared to low-sugar foods.
By contrast, studies have also shown that replacing sugars with artificially sweetened foods will result in a slight decrease in fasting insulin levels.
Avoid Refined Carbs
Refined carbs comprise a large part of many diets. However, research has shown that eating them on a regular basis can lead to many health problems, including high insulin levels. Refined carbs also have a high glycemic index and studies have shown that these foods raise insulin levels more than the same portion of a low glycemic load food.
Another reason why refined carbs are bad for insulin levels is because they are digested and absorbed quickly, which can lead to higher insulin. As such, it is best to stay away from refined carbs and replace them with foods that take longer to digest, such as whole foods.
While the food we eat plays a large role in lowering and raising insulin levels, so does exercise. Studies have found that people who have Type 2 diabetes or who are obese can benefit greatly by engaging in aerobic exercise. One study compared aerobic exercise to high-intensity training and found that the group engaging in sustained aerobic exercise experienced lower insulin levels.
Resistance training also shows promising effects in lowering insulin levels, particularly in older, sedentary adults. One study that combined endurance exercise and strength training in breast cancer survivors found that subjects experienced an average of a 27 percent decrease in insulin levels over 16 weeks.
Try Intermittent Fasting
One of the most popular new diets for weight loss is intermittent fasting, and the reason why some people find so much success eating this way may be due to this diet’s ability to lower insulin levels. Research on the diet shows it may be as effective as daily calorie restriction at lowering insulin levels.
One study involved having 26 participants fast every other day for a total of 22 days, and the results were impressive. On average, subjects experienced a 57 percent reduction in fasting insulin levels. However, this approach may not be suitable for everyone, and it’s important to consult a doctor or nutritionist before giving it a try.
Take Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to prevent blood sugar and insulin spikes when taken with high-carb foods during a meal. One study found that just two tablespoons of the vinegar with a high-carb meal led not only to greater feelings of fullness after 30 minutes, but also to lower insulin levels.
Eat Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like anchovies, mackerel, sardines, and salmon has been shown to have a wide variety of benefits. These high-quality proteins are great sources of omega-3 fats, which are very beneficial to our health.
Multiple studies have demonstrated their ability to help decrease insulin resistance in people with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), gestational diabetes, and obesity. One study that involved women with PCOS showed an 8.4 percent reduction in insulin levels in those who took fish oil compared to those who took a placebo.
Target Belly Fat
Carrying too much belly fat, also called visceral or abdominal fat, has been connected to several health problems. It can cause inflammation and insulin resistance, and studies have shown that getting rid of belly fat promotes insulin sensitivity and lowers insulin levels.
One study showed that people who decreased belly fat retained some insulin sensitivity even after they regained some of the fat. However, people with higher levels of insulin may have more difficulty losing belly fat than others, and as such must make a pointed effort to lose belly fat.
There are many habits you can adopt to lower high insulin levels. Whether you are already struggling with a health condition like Type 2 diabetes, or are simply monitoring your overall health, managing your insulin levels can go a long way toward preventing many issues.