I can’t even imagine how many conventional physicians across the country have worn out their prescription pads writing scripts for diabetes drugs. In fact, as a society we’ve become so focused on the pills that we’ve forgotten the real issue with type 2 diabetes: managing insulin resistance.
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is the hormone that shuttles glucose (sugar) that comes from the food you eat into your cells where it’s used for energy. If your cells aren’t insulin resistant, they’re like a worn down lock that won’t open up to let sugar in. This results in elevated levels of both blood sugar and, in many cases, insulin—with disastrous effects on tissues throughout the body.
Managing Insulin Resistance
Choose your carbohydrates wisely. Starches and sugars are rapidly broken down into glucose, driving up blood sugar levels and placing an increased burden on normal metabolic processes. On the other hand, vegetables, legumes and modest amounts of fruit promote the slow, sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream—resulting in healthy blood sugar control.
Focus on healthful fats, and steer clear of saturated and processed fats to help manage insulin resistance. Excess fat, particularly saturated fats from meat and altered trans-fatty acids in processed foods, not only causes weight gain—but also increases your insulin resistance. Focus on including judicious amounts of extra-virgin olive oil, and eating plenty of omega-3 fats (found in salmon, tuna, flaxseed, and sardines)—which helps in managing insulin resistance.
Eat moderate amounts of protein, which has little effect on blood sugar levels and may actually improve glucose control. It’s important to get moderate amounts of lean protein at every meal. Good selections include seafood, skinless poultry, egg whites, occasional lean beef, and beans and legumes.
Exercise daily, preferably after every meal. When you exercise, your muscles’ energy requirements increase dramatically—they need ready access to glucose, which fuels the hungry muscle cells. Exercise actually bypasses the normal requirements for insulin. It increases the transport of glucose into the cells, not only while you are exercising but for hours afterwards. Thus it lowers blood glucose levels and also aids in managing insulin resistance. At the clinic, we take our patients on 10-minute post-meal walks to facilitate proper glucose uptake and clearing.
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