“Resistance is futile” – I used to be a huge Star Trek fan. Yup, little known fact about me – maybe Gary will have that as a trivia question in a future issue!! Life with diabetes teaches us that we have all had to give in a certain bit to forge ahead and manage well. Resisting a change that can be for the better draws out your efforts and makes them harder, but is there a point at which fighting against resistance is worth the work?
We have heard the term insulin resistance at some point in life with diabetes. But is it really a worthless effort to strive to overcome resistance when living with diabetes? Is there anything you can do to overcome it if it is something you know is impacting your management? And what does it mean anyway?
As defined by Endocrineweb.com –
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out—which is to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can experience insulin resistance. Genetics as well as body weight, especially if weight is in the belly, lack of exercise, lack of sleep as well as smoking are all contributing factors regardless of the type of diabetes.
Pick out which of these might be a contributing factor and aim to focus energy here. Trying to adjust for all factors at once is an effort in futility. If weight is the main issue then focus on how to successfully start to navigate weight down, or to reduce body fat.
Exercise is a major benefit here and Kathryn provided a wonderful article this month on how to add activity to assist with increasing insulin sensitivity. Once you have this dialed in, another focus for weight management is on food.
Consider your current fuel sources. Are you one who already eats well-balanced and mostly clean food? If so, then the focus may not be on the type of food but more on the actual amount you need to eat in order to get weight loss moving.
Fat is a major player in insulin resistance when combined with a high processed carb diet. Fat in the bloodstream is shown in many studies to decrease the cell’s response to insulin, thus needing to take more insulin to get blood glucose levels to normalize. The main cause of increased free fatty acids in the bloodstream is calorie intake outside your need as well as excess weight, especially belly fat. This area of the body that accumulates extra fat can also cause a release of inflammatory hormones that increases insulin resistance. While this is common among those who carry more weight in the tummy area, it can also happen to those of normal body weight too. Potential reasons here include a diet high in added sugar intake, inflammation in the body, inactivity as well as simple gut function. The bacteria in your digestive system can lead to inflammation that increases the chance of insulin resistance. Paying attention to food intake can go a long way to help all of us with insulin resistance.
If your food intake could use an overhaul, then start here. Make a list of the food you eat now and then create a substitution for foods known to increase insulin sensitivity. Which foods should you avoid, and which ones should you include? See this list below to get started. You’ll find that this doesn’t take a lot of fancy footwork in meal planning, but it often includes decreasing intake of food that is processed and full of excess fat.
Pay attention to caloric intake and portion but give attention to where your macronutrients are coming from – Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates are the 3 that contribute to calorie intake. Each person requires a bit different intake, and it can help to talk to someone about your life and activity level to get you on the path to the proper amount. Once you know how much of each nutrient to eat, you can start to whittle away at your common foods and add those that are better for you.
Foods To Pack Your Pantry/Fridge:
- Raw or Frozen Non-Starchy veggies – Broccoli, cauliflower, greens, kale, peppers, onions, mushrooms, green beans, summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, celery
- Fruit – Aim for low glycemic fruit such as Berries, Green apples, kiwi and pears
- Beans and Lentils
- Grains – Old fashioned thick rolled oats, quinoa, wild rice
- Nuts and seeds – Walnuts (high in Omega-3 Fatty acids), chia/hemp and flax seeds, almonds
- Protein – Lean quality with skin removed and fat drained. Pay attention to the cooking method. Consider a meatless option – Tofu or another non-animal protein source
- Fats – Avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, salad dressings with vinegar and less oil. Swap out saturated animal fats for plant-based fat sources. *https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/41/8/1732
- Add probiotic and prebiotic foods daily. Apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented food can go a long way to heal the gut and get inflammation under control.
- Hydration – make sure to drink plenty fluid through the day as well. It is not something many people pay attention to, but drinking water goes a long way to allow delivery of nutrients and other things that float along in the bloodstream (insulin!) in an efficient way.
Simple changes can make a difference in how your body responds to insulin. Cleaning things up and eating simple, real food, getting regular activity and paying attention to hydration can be a good start. As always, if you need some assistance in managing glucose and insulin adjustments as you change your food intake, give us a call. Integrated has a great team to help you fight the resistance and win.