When the carbohydrates that you eat break down into blood glucose, your pancreas pumps out insulin so that your body's cells can immediately use the glucose for energy and your liver and muscles can store the extra glucose as glycogen for future use. However, insulin resistance, or poor insulin sensitivity, is a condition that impairs your body’s ability to properly use insulin for stimulating glucose entry into your tissues. As a result, blood insulin levels remain high long after eating in an effort to lower blood glucose. Changing your diet can help to lower insulin. However, it is best to seek medical advice first.
Consult with your doctor and follow a prescribed treatment regimen. This may include taking oral medications to lower blood glucose and insulin levels.
Cut back on refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates such as table sugar and white flour and products that contain these foods cause quick surges in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Eat high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, which help to keep blood glucose and insulin levels stable. Adults should consume at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily, advises the American Dietetic Association. Women should consume at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains and men should consume about five 1-ounce servings daily.
Limit dairy foods in your diet. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt rank low on the glycemic index. This is a scale that ranks foods on how quickly they increase blood glucose levels and for how long blood glucose levels remain elevated. However, milk contains whey proteins, which are very effective at triggering the pancreas to secrete insulin, according to a 2011 study published in the “Nestlé Nutrition Workshop Series.”
Try adding cinnamon to your diet. This spice contains a group of active compounds called polyphenols, including procyanidins -- a type of polyphenol. These compounds can significantly increases glucose metabolism, or the rate at which cells grown in a dish can take in and convert glucose into energy, according to a study published in the January 14, 2004 issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." Faster glucose metabolism in your tissues helps to lower blood insulin levels.
- Consuming less dairy foods may raise fears of protein or calcium deficiencies. However, you can get these nutrients, as well as others, from foods such as fish, lean meat and poultry, soy, carrots, green leafy vegetables, peas, beans and nuts.
- Add small amounts of cinnamon to your meals and beverages to glean the suggested benefit of cinnamon’s effect on blood glucose control. However, speak to your doctor before taking cinnamon in supplement form, or if you have a medical condition such as diabetes.
- Exercise helps you burn more blood glucose and improves insulin sensitivity. Try to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week and at least two days of strength training weekly. If you have not exercised in a while, you may want to schedule a physical examination with your doctor first.
- Prediabetes and diabetes are serious conditions that can lead to severe complications such as blindness, kidney damage, nerve damage and limb amputations in the advanced stages. Diabetes and insulin resistance require medical supervision.
- Combining some diabetes medications such as metformin with exercise may impair glucose control, according to a study published in the May 2011 issue of “Diabetes Care.” Consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you are taking diabetes medications.
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Insulin Resistance and Pre-Diabetes
- Eatright.org: Healthy Eating for Women
- Eatright.org: Healthy Eating for Men
- Nestlé Nutrition Workshop Series: Evidence for Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk and Other Insulinotropic Dairy Products
- Pennington Biomedical Research Center: Cinnamon and Type 2 Diabetes
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone – How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Diabetes Care: Metformin and Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes – Examining Treatment Modality Interactions
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Isolation and Characterization of Polyphenol Type-A Polymers from Cinnamon with Insulin-Like Biological Activity
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.