With so much information and methods related to diets and exercises to lose weight circulating on the networks, it is very easy to overlook hormones and the impact they have on our body and general well-being. That is why in this article we will discuss the hormone insulin: what it is, what its function is, and how it is related to diabetes.
Among other questions, could we manipulate insulin in order to lose fat and live longer? Apparently, it is entirely possible. And it is actually easier than it might seem.
Insulin and its relation to diabetes
Insulin is a super important hormone that helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Every time we eat carbohydrates (and to some extent when we eat protein), the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help remove the sugar from the bloodstream and send it to our organs (mainly the liver and cells muscle) where it can be used to produce energy.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the insulin response does not work properly and sugar builds up in the blood with nowhere else to go. This can lead to many problems, such as vision loss, hearing loss, high blood pressure, and gum disease.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 occurs when insulin is produced, but the body does not respond in the correct way.
What causes type 1 is often difficult to identify. The type 2 diabetes is becoming more common, some have estimated that one - third of Americans will develop disease- and often can be prevented. How? Let's talk about insulin sensitivity.
What is insulin sensitivity?
Doing something many times can make you less sensitive to its effects, right? Drinking coffee all the time can decrease the effect of caffeine, regular drinkers find that they need more and more beers to get drunk than they used to, and so on.
In the same way, eating carbohydrates too often (especially simple ones, like sugars) can make us less sensitive to insulin (or more “insulin resistant”). When that happens, we need to produce more insulin than we should to keep our blood sugar stable.
That's too bad. If insulin sensitivity decreases, we will have problems digesting carbohydrates and absorbing nutrients, and we will gain weight. If this continues for a long time, the pancreas will need to produce more and more insulin as we will be very insensitive to it. Eventually, it will run out and stop being able to release the hormone properly, and that's when type 2 diabetes occurs.
But insulin resistance doesn't just increase the risk of diabetes. It also increases the risk of thyroid problems and various types of cancer, and it also makes it much more difficult to control body fat.
Therefore, if we want to burn fat, we need to be more sensitive. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your insulin work harder.
7 ways to increase your insulin sensitivity
If your insulin sensitivity is at worrying levels, getting tested is not complicated; just ask a doctor for a fasting plasma glucose test. Maximizing insulin sensitivity should be a priority for anyone interested in improving their health, minimizing their risk of diabetes, and even getting in better physical condition. Here are seven tips to help make that happen.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercising 3-4 times a week can improve almost all health markers out there, and insulin sensitivity is no exception. According to a randomized study using FDG PET images, physical training favors increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle in contrast to adipose tissue:
To maximize insulin-related benefits, make workouts more intense with high-intensity interval or metabolic-depletion workouts.
2. Get enough sleep
Laying down to sleep has never been so healthy! Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to keeping your body running smoothly, which includes hormone production.
3. Eat fewer carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates
Eating too many carbohydrates causes us to produce a lot of insulin, so it is best to follow a diet low in simple and processed carbohydrates, especially sugar, to maximize our sensitivity. One exception is after exercising: a spike in blood sugar is a good thing after training, because insulin helps quickly deliver nutrients to exhausted muscles.
4. Eat foods that are slow to digest.
When food is digested slowly, sugars take longer to reach the bloodstream and insulin is released more gradually. Fat, fiber, and protein are excellent examples and should be an important part of our diets.
In this study on atherosclerosis by insulin resistance talking about the glycemic index and glycemic load diet, intake of carbohydrates and fiber, and measures of insulin sensitivity, secretion and adiposity.
5. Fast regularly
Intermittent fasting can be a useful method of reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a wide range of other diseases.
6. Drink green tea
Drinking a lot of green tea has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels, but be sure to leave out milk as it can undermine the circulatory benefits of the tea.
7. Keep your body fat levels low
Regardless of how it is achieved, simply being slimmer can improve insulin sensitivity.
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