Insulin is a very important hormone that’s released by the pancreas and plays a crucial role in many body processes. One of the most important ones is allowing the cells in your body to take in sugar from the bloodstream and then use it as an energy source. However, increased insulin levels can lead to a number of serious health problems. Having high insulin levels, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia has been linked to heart disease, obesity, and cancer (1, 2, 3). High insulin levels in the bloodstream also cause the cells to become desensitized/resistant to its effects. When a person becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas produces even more of it, leading to vicious self-reinforcing cycle.
Here are 14 ways to decrease your insulin levels and improve your health:
Follow a low-carb diet
Carbohydrates increase blood sugar and insulin levels the most, compared to the other two macro-nutrients: protein and fat. That’s why, low-carb diets can be extremely effective when it comes to losing excess weight and controlling diabetes. Numerous studies have confirmed the ability of the low-carb diet to decrease insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity, compared to other diets. People who have health problems characterized by insulin resistance, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and metabolic syndrome, may experience a dramatic decrease of insulin with carb intake restriction.
There was a study done in which subjects with metabolic syndrome were randomly selected to follow either a low-carb or low-fat diet with a total of 1500 calories. It was found that insulin levels decreased by an average of 50% in the low-carb group, compared to the 20% drop in the low-fat group.
In another study where participants were women with polycystic ovary syndrome, they followed a low-carb diet containing enough calories for weight maintenance. At the end of the study, they experienced greater insulin level decrease than when they followed a high-carb diet.
Low-carb diets have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels in individuals struggling with diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Use apple cider vinegar
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can blood sugar and insulin spikes after a meal. It has been shown that this mainly occurs when vinegar is eaten with high-carb foods(4, 5, 6). A small-group study found that people who took around 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with high-carb meal experienced reduced insulin levels and increased feeling of fullness half an hour after the meal. Scientists believed that this is in part due to the vinegar’s ability to delay the emptying of the stomach, which leads to a more gradual sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
Bottom line is that vinegar can help prevent high insulin levels after you eat your meal or any food that is rich in carbs.
Monitor meal sizes
Even though the pancreas produces different quantities of insulin depending on the type of food that you eat, eating too much of any food in one meal can lead to hyperinsulinemia. This fat is especially important for overweight people with insulin resistance. There was a study in which insulin-resistant overweight people ate a 1,300-calorie meal. It was found that their insulin levels increased twice compared to lean people who ate the same meal.(7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
They also experienced almost twice the increase in insulin levels as overweight people who were actually considered to be “metabolically healthy”. Ingesting fewer calories has repeatedly been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels in overweight people, regardless of what type of diet they follow.
There was a study done which researched different weight loss diet in 160 people who had metabolic syndrome. The scientists found that by fasting, insulin levels decreased by 15% in the group of subjects that restricted their caloric intake and by 13% in the group that restricted their meal size.
Reducing your daily caloric intake by decreasing your portions or by counting calories can lead to decreased insulin levels in obese or overweight people with metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Eliminate all types of sugar
Sugar might be the single most important food that you should avoid as much as possible if you’re trying to decrease your insulin levels. In one study, where participants were given candy and peanuts, the groups that ate candy had a 30% increase in insulin levels compared to 13% increase the peanut group experienced.
In another study, participants ate jam containing a high amount of sugar. The result was that their insulin levels increased significantly compared to when eating jam with low sugar content. Fructose can be found in honey, table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and agave among many other products. Ingesting large amounts of it can increase insulin resistance, which will ultimately lead to increased insulin levels.
A study found that subjects had similar insulin responses after ingesting 50 grams of honey, table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup every day for two weeks. In a different study, obese people who added foods with high sugar content to their diet had a 20% increase in fasting insulin levels. On the other hand, the group that added artificially sweetened foods to their diet experienced a 3% decrease in their fasting insulin levels.
It’s been decisively shown that a high consumption of sugar in any form increases insulin levels as well as insulin resistance.
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