lemon tea served on teacup
Diet, Education on Diabetes

4 Nutrients for Insulin Sensitivity

Here are 4 nutrients that promote insulin sensitivity and blood glucose balance.

Having good insulin sensitivity means glucose can move around the body and be used more efficiently. This reduces your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and supports your overall health.

* These nutrients ARE NOT ‘cures’ of diabetes, they can be useful in managing glucose levels.

1. Cinnamon

jerk chicken - insulin sensitivity

Cinnamon mimics insulin, meaning receptors are more sensitive and glucose can move into cells easily. This helps to prevent hyperglycaemia as less glucose remains in the bloodstream.

It is really easy to get in your diet, sprinkle some cinnamon powder in your porridge, coffee or on toast. Also use either powder or sticks in your recipes. Cinnamon is delicious in asian dishes, jerk chicken and chilli-con carnie!

2. Chromium

Chromium is a mineral linked to glucose homeostasis in the body. It increases the activity of the enzyme tyrosine-kinase which increases the uptake of glucose into cells.

Broccoli, brazil nuts, apples, potatoes and lean meats are all very high in chromium!

3. Berberine

Berberine is a phytochemical present in many plants. It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity through receptor activity, as well as regulating the amount of insulin secreted from the pancreas (in non-type 1 diabetics).

Herbs that contain berberine include barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape and turmeric.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

chia seeds - insulin sensitivity

Omega-3 fatty acids have been seen to amplify insulin sensitivity. This may be due to its structural role in cell membranes and insulin receptors. Omega-3 is also vital for brain and eye health, as well as reducing inflammation.

Have 3-4 portions of oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring). Vegetarian sources include 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Insulin Resistance and Inflammation and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

a woman holding an insulin injection pen
Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

Insulin Resistance and Inflammation

What is insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is when cells across the body do not respond well to insulin. This means glucose remains in the bloodstream rather than moving into cells.

This can lead to elevated blood glucose, potentially resulting in pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Vicious cycle

high blood pressure - insulin resistance

When we start to develop insulin resistance, the body starts to produce more inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines then amplify insulin resistance, showing a vicious cycle between the two.

Other markers of inflammation are often implicated in type 2 diabetes. This includes having high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy and retinopathy.

Simple ways to boost insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation

1.Remove refined and processed sugars – The best place to start is to remove/decrease foods that cause blood sugars to spike rapidly. Processed sugars can also contribute towards increased cytokines, so be sure to stick to natural sugars.

2. Eat 8 portions of the rainbow everyday – The body needs a lot of antioxidants to overcome insulin resistance, and to prevent any damage to the body. So try to eat 8 handfuls of fresh fruit and veg everyday. Also try herbal teas (green tea is great). They are generally very high in antioxidants.

walking to reduce insulin resistance

3. Get moving – Having a sedentary lifestyle is linked to the onset of insulin resistance, so be sure to get some movement in everyday. A great habit to get into is to walk after your evening meal. The exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity, preventing a big glucose spike.

4. Eat fermented foods – A link has been found between insulin resistance and having less ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. Try and eat one fermented food everyday, such as greek yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. This will help to decrease inflammation and will aid healthy digestion.

5. Rest up – having a stable sleep pattern is vital for overall health and helping the body to heal. So try and get 8-10 hours of sleep and stick to your schedule for the majority!

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Oxidative Stress 101 and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale
Education on Diabetes, Fitness

Tips on losing weight with diabetes

Carrying excess weight is linked to many health problems and has a large link to developing insulin resistance.

This applies to type 1 diabetes as well as type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops regardless of body weight, however keeping a healthy weight when living with type 1 will reduce risk of complications, as well as reducing insulin demand.

Which ever type of diabetes you are living with, it’s in best interest to keep excess body weight to a minimum.

Work with your medical team

sweets - losing weight with diabetes

Trying to lose weight can cause sugar levels to drop quite quickly and can cause stubborn hypo’s.

This is due to a change in diet, increased exercise and increased insulin sensitivity.

Therefore it is vital to get advice before you make any drastic changes to your lifestyle. Making gradual changes is the best protocol. This allows sugar control to remain stable, as well as increasing the likelihood you’ll stick to positive changes.

4 simple tips to focus on

1. Increase movement

Everyone knows we have to move more in order to shift some weight.

We want to gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise, especially when trying to keep sugars balanced.

This can start with going on a slow 20-30 minute walk everyday. The duration can then be built up, increasing by 5 minutes every week.

Whatever form of exercise you choose, remember to start slowly and you’ll eventually learn to love it!

2. Make swaps, don’t ‘cut things out’

food swaps - losing weight with diabetes

If you go crazy and attempt to ‘cut out’ all ‘bad food groups’, I guarantee it’ll be an epic fail. Losing weight is generally viewed as a negative experience, but it doesn’t have to be this way at all.

Rather than focusing on taking away, we want to focus on replacing and adding nutritious foods. You can absolutely eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, have snacks and lose weight.

I’ll write another post on the specifics but here are a couple of examples.

  • Replace chocolate cereals with oats. Add 1 tsp raw cacao, a sprinkle of cinnamon, 1 tsp of nut butter, a handful of berries and walnuts.
  • Replace snack bars with homemade protein balls. See my recipe here!

3. Focus on sleep

Sleep is fundamentally important in losing weight.

Getting good quality sleep consistently is also key to mood regulation and productivity.

When we change our routine it will require discipline. It is so hard to stay disciplined when we are tired!

Make sure you are getting 8-9 hours of sleep, avoid blue light one hour before bed and make your sleeping environment quiet and peaceful.

4. Hydrate

water bottle - losing weight with diabetes

Hydration is vital to support your kidneys, digestive system, and well, everything.

People living with diabetes must support their kidneys by drinking enough water. This puts less pressure on them and supports removing toxins from the body.

Make sure you are drinking 8-10 tall glasses of water everyday. I recommend investing in a water bottle that goes everywhere with you. Seeing your water bottle is an instant reminder to drink some water.

Thank you for reading losing weight with diabetes, I hope you found these tips useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Bulking with type 1 diabetes and 5 foods packed with hidden sugars!