In recent decades, Type 2 Diabetes has become a significant public health risk that cannot be ignored. As it is a condition characterised by reduced insulin sensitivity and an eventual decline in insulin levels, we should also discuss how to increase insulin in your body without medication. This article will discuss if it is possible to naturally increase the amount of insulin produced in your body and how to improve insulin sensitivity in your cells to better manage your condition.
What is Insulin and Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in your pancreas. It helps in the regulation of your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Insulin helps the glucose from your food enter your cells, where it can be used to generate energy. This lowers your blood glucose levels. Insulin also converts the excess glucose into fat, which is stored for later use. Furthermore, insulin prevents the breakdown of fat and protein in your body.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your liver, muscles, and fat tissue do not respond appropriately to the insulin present in your blood. This causes the glucose from your food to remain in your bloodstream, leading to high blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance is one of the leading causes of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.
Are High Insulin Levels Good or Bad?
The later stages of Type 2 Diabetes are characterised by decreased insulin levels due to the degradation of pancreatic beta cells. Hence, some Type 2 diabetics are prescribed oral medication that stimulates insulin production or insulin injections to better manage their condition. This may give you the impression that the increased secretion of insulin may be a good thing.
However, it is important to note that too much insulin secretion can cause several problems, including:
- Severe hypoglycaemia (dangerously low blood sugar levels)
- Excessive weight gain
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
High insulin levels or hyperinsulinaemia can also increase your risk of developing obesity and cardiovascular disorders , while worsening your health and lowering your life span.
Hyperinsulinaemia is common in Type 2 diabetics. The insulin resistance in your cells leads to high blood glucose levels, which further triggers insulin release, making your condition worse. Hence, having high serum insulin levels is not good for your health.
What are the Foods that Increase Insulin Production?
The release of insulin is triggered by high blood glucose levels. This usually happens when you consume food that is high in sugars or carbohydrates. The amount of insulin released into your blood is directly proportional to the amount of carbohydrates you consume.
So, foods that are rich in carbohydrates and have high amounts of sugar like processed foods, sugary drinks, sweets, food made of refined grains, fast food, junk food, etc., can trigger the release of high amounts of insulin from your pancreas.
How to Increase Insulin Production in Pancreas in Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have Type 2 Diabetes, your doctor will prescribe certain oral anti-hyperglycaemic medications like Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, Sulfonylureas, and Glinides, which stimulate the production of insulin from your pancreas.
Along with medication, you can also consume the following foods that mimic the action of insulin and improve glucose uptake in your cells.
If you are a Type 2 diabetic, you usually have sufficient amounts of insulin in your system, but are unable to utilise it. Hence, reducing insulin resistance in your cells by making them insulin sensitive is a far more effective strategy to manage your condition than improving insulin production in the body.
How to Increase Insulin Sensitivity?
You can make your cells more insulin sensitive by adapting the following scientifically proven and natural measures.
Maintain a healthy weight
Having excess visceral fat (fat accumulation around the abdomen) is one of the major risk factors for insulin resistance. The more weight you have around your belly, the more your cells are likely to be insulin resistant.
Studies have shown that losing weight in general, and losing belly fat in particular can improve insulin sensitivity in your cells. You can lose belly fat and overall body weight through regular exercise and by consuming a healthy and balanced diet.
When you exercise, your tissues use the excess glucose in your blood to fuel your workout by moving the glucose into your muscles. Studies have shown that moderate exercise can have an instant effect on the insulin sensitivity of your cells, which can last up to 48 hours. This effect has been observed even in cases where there was no weight loss. Research suggests that combining aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) with resistance training (weight-lifting, body-weight exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, etc.) gives the best result in regards to improving insulin sensitivity.
When you are under physical or mental stress, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the production and action of insulin, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Prolonged stress and persistently high cortisol levels have also been linked with increased insulin resistance.
However, studies have shown that lowering your cortisol levels can help reverse insulin resistance in your cells and tissues. Thus, adopting healthy stress management strategies like meditation, yoga, exercise, etc. can help improve insulin sensitivity in your body.
Get better sleep
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation and a lack of quality sleep can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance in your cells. This decrease in insulin sensitivity can be caused by a loss of even a single night’s sleep. However, insulin resistance caused by lack of sleep can be reversed by getting at least 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep every night.
Lower your carbohydrate intake
Carbohydrates are generally the main source of glucose in your diet. The amount of insulin released by your pancreas is based on the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Eating foods rich in simple carbs can cause fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to insulin resistance. Thus, it is recommended to lower your carb intake or eat foods that have complex carbohydrates (whole grains) or are low on the glycaemic index (GI) scale.
Cut down on added sugars
Similar to carbohydrates, consuming sweet or sugary foods can lead to spikes in your blood glucose and insulin levels. Additionally, processed foods which contain added sugars are usually high in fructose, which increases insulin resistance in your cells. Thus, avoiding processed foods that contain added sugars and fructose can help improve the insulin sensitivity of your cells.
Eat a balanced diet
Consuming a diet that comprises fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, and legumes can help stabilise your blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity in your cells. Eating foods that are rich in fibre, protein, and antioxidants can also help lower insulin resistance.
Use more spices
Adding herbs and spices like cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger, ginseng, etc. can help lower your blood sugar levels as these spices can help facilitate the transport of glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. Studies have shown that these spices can contribute to improving insulin sensitivity in your body. These spices can also help you add more flavour to your cooking without the addition of too much salt, sugar, or fats.
Replace soda and juices with diabetes-friendly options
Replacing sweet and sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks, store-bought juices, milkshakes, etc. with green tea, home-made vegetable juices, low-fat milk, carbonated water, etc. can help you cut down on your carbohydrate intake. These sugary drinks can cause massive spikes in your blood glucose levels while providing little to no nutrition, which can lead to insulin resistance.
Avoid trans fats
Trans fats or trans-fatty acids are a type of fat mostly found in highly processed foods. Trans fats can raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in your blood while lowering the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in trans fats can also cause insulin resistance in your cells. Hence, cutting out foods that have trans fats from your diet and replacing them with sources of healthy fats like nuts and seeds can help improve insulin sensitivity in your cells.
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- Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that helps regulate your blood glucose levels.
- Insulin resistance occurs when your cells and tissues are unable to utilise the insulin produced in your body.
- Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by lowered insulin sensitivity in your cells and tissues, whereas your insulin levels stay relatively normal. Insulin levels may fall in the later stages of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Certain oral medications can be used to stimulate the production of insulin from your pancreas. Insulin injections may also be prescribed to Type 2 diabetics. However, it is important to note that too much insulin secretion can cause several problems and having high serum insulin levels is not good for your health.
- Improving insulin sensitivity in your cells is a better strategy to manage Type 2 Diabetes.
- You can improve insulin sensitivity naturally by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, managing stress in a healthy way, getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, eating a well-balanced diet, limiting your carbohydrate intake, cutting down on fructose and added sugars, avoiding trans fats, replacing soft drinks and juices with healthy alternatives, and using spices like fenugreek, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, etc.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
No, insulin reduces blood glucose by facilitating the transport of glucose from your blood into your cells, where they are converted into energy.
In Type 1 Diabetes, there is little to no insulin production in your body. While in Type 2 Diabetes, your body is unable to use insulin properly, which leads to insulin resistance. Gradually, your pancreas deteriorates and becomes unable to produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level in Type 2 Diabetes.
Your pancreas, which is located behind the lower part of your stomach, is the organ that produces the hormone insulin.
No particular vitamin is responsible for the production of insulin. Having a well-balanced diet that is rich in protein, fibre, magnesium, antioxidants, etc., can help keep your pancreas healthy, which results in normal insulin production.
Low insulin levels are not inherently harmful. The amount of insulin released into your blood depends upon your blood glucose levels. This means that your insulin levels increase every time you eat.
Any food that can be broken down into glucose can trigger a release of insulin. However, as eggs have low amounts of carbohydrates and are high in proteins, they release glucose at a much slower and stable rate than high carb foods. Thus, eggs do not cause a sharp spike in your insulin levels.
Insulin levels are determined by a blood test after eight hours of fasting. The range is as follows: