Insulin is a tricky little hormone. If your body isn’t producing exactly the right amount, you’re in trouble, and the consequences are not fantastic.
High levels of insulin (also known as hyperinsulinemia) can lead to some pretty serious health problems, which is exactly why you want to learn how to lower your insulin on your own when needed.
This condition has been linked to type 2 diabetes and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to get those insulin levels back to normal.
Insulin is a hormone our bodies need to, you know, survive. NBD. It’s produced by your pancreas and helps the cells in your body absorb the glucose in your blood, which turns into energy that helps your cells function properly.
Insulin is basically in charge of maintaining proper blood sugar levels. When you don’t have enough insulin, you may experience high blood sugar or type 1 diabetes. When you have too much, it can be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
How does that even happen?
High insulin levels are usually caused by insulin resistance (which means your body doesn’t respond effectively to insulin).
If you have insulin resistance, your pancreas tries to make up for it by producing more insulin than usual. If your insulin levels aren’t lowered, your pancreas eventually can’t keep up, so it stops producing so much insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
The symptoms of hyperinsulinemia aren’t always noticeable because they could easily be attributed to other things.
They include sugar cravings, unusual weight gain, feeling hungry all the time, difficulty concentrating, feelings of anxiety and panic, a lack of focus, and low blood sugar.
Here’s the thing: Once you realize your insulin levels are too high, you need to do something to lower them, stat. Luckily, you have options.
Exercise is a great natural way to lower your insulin, especially if you have a higher body weight or have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
While any kind of workout will be beneficial, research has found that sustained aerobic exercise seems to lower insulin more than HIIT workouts. Aerobic exercise is any kind of cardio that increases your breathing and heart rate.
Cardio can be anything from a brisk walk to a long run or a Zumba class with friends. Whatever you choose to do, try to get in at least 30 to 60 minutes of it each day (ideally) or a few times a week.
Carb-heavy foods might be delicious, but they’re not the best ones for you to be eating since they can raise both blood sugar and insulin levels considerably.
Research has shown that adopting a low carb diet can reduce insulin levels, lower blood pressure, and aid in weight loss.
This is especially true for people who have health conditions associated with insulin resistance, like metabolic syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
A Mediterranean-style diet, in particular, is a great option because it emphasizes eating veggies, fiber-rich foods, beans, nuts, fish, and healthy fats. It’s well-rounded and not too difficult to follow.
While a healthy amount of protein is actually good for insulin production, too much of it (like too much of basically anything) will come back to bite you in the butt. Protein can stimulate insulin production, so eating a lot of it will increase your levels.
The key is to eat the right kinds of protein. You may want to avoid whey and casein proteins, which can stimulate more insulin production than other types of protein.
Opt for protein that includes little animal fat, like fish and poultry instead of red meat. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, go for beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and tofu and other soy products.
Losing weight can help lower your insulin levels, which is one reason low carb diets and exercise are important. It’s difficult to target specific areas of your body for weight loss, but in this case, losing belly fat may be key to lowering your insulin levels.
Belly fat is often visceral fat, the kind that can be dangerous and stubborn. Visceral fat in your belly promotes insulin resistance, which can lead to hyperinsulinemia. Losing that fat can lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity, two things you want.
When you eat too much of any food in one sitting, your pancreas produces more insulin. Basically, overeating can easily lead to hyperinsulinemia, especially if you have a higher body weight and insulin resistance.
Eating smaller portions and fewer calories can lower your insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity, no matter what type of diet you’re following.
Carbs aren’t the only thing you’ll need to limit — sugar is another. Eating too much of the sweet stuff can promote insulin resistance and thus raise your insulin levels. If you need more convincing, there’s research.
In a small 2009 study, one group of people ate a lot of candy over the course of 2 weeks, and the other group ate a lot of peanuts. The candy group had a 31 percent increase in insulin levels, compared to 12 percent for the peanut group.
Still need a little sweetness in your life? Cinnamon can help with that, and it can also lower your insulin.
Research has shown that the spice may lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity in both people who have type 2 diabetes and people who don’t.
Sound too good to be true? The truth is that the effects of cinnamon vary from person to person. So while it’s certainly worth a shot, just know it may not be a miracle worker.
Apple cider vinegar might really be as great as Pinterest makes it seem.
It’s been shown to prevent spikes in insulin, especially if you eat it along with a high carb meal. While the research on this is older, ACV might also delay stomach emptying so the sugar from the carbs is better absorbed into your bloodstream.
So the next time you nosh on some carb-heavy food, find a way to add some ACV to the equation.
You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting as a great way to lose weight. Well, it’s also a good way to lower your insulin levels. Not every type of intermittent fasting works, though. It seems to be most effective if you do liquid meals or alternate-day fasting.
Like the cinnamon suggestion, this one depends on the person. If it sounds like a good fit for you, try it, but know that it may not get the job done for everyone.
When you’re stressed out, your body will release more insulin for energy. So if you’re really stressed all the time, your insulin levels are going to be higher.
If this sounds like you, take some steps to reduce your stress. You might try practicing meditation or yoga, getting more sleep, working out more, or just spending time each day doing something you enjoy.
If relaxing on the couch with a good movie is your way to de-stress, that’s great. But try to get some physical activity in every day as well.
Research has shown that just getting up and walking around a few times to break up long periods of sitting can improve insulin levels and insulin sensitivity.
Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can be as easy as taking a walk after eating a large meal or making sure to get up and walk around even when you’re sitting at a desk all day.
When you consume soluble fiber, it absorbs water and turns into a gel. This slows food’s progress through your digestive tract, which makes you feel full longer and prevents your blood sugar and insulin from spiking.
It can also boost the good bacteria in your colon, which could reduce insulin resistance.
Some foods high in soluble fiber are beans, avocados, brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pears, figs, carrots, apples, sunflower seeds, and oats.
Taking certain supplements may also help bring down your insulin levels. A 2017 study found that women with higher body weights who took dietary supplements including green tea, capsaicin, and ginger lowered their insulin levels and lost weight.
Be sure to get the OK from your doctor before trying any supplement.
Eating fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies can provide a hefty dose of omega-3 fats, aid in weight loss, and reduce insulin resistance for some people.
Fatty fish is also an integral part of the Mediterranean diet (if you were considering that) and an excellent source of protein.
If you’re not a fan of fish, you could try taking a fish oil supplement.
A 2013 study found that taking fish oil led to a significant decrease in insulin resistance. Although this study focused on children, it’s still worth a try! But, as always, talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement.
You already know cardio exercise can lower your insulin levels, but you shouldn’t neglect weight training. Resistance training improves muscle mass, which increases the amount of glucose your body uses and, in turn, helps insulin work more efficiently.
Research suggests that a combination of cardio and strength training is the best physical activity option to have a significant effect on insulin levels and sensitivity.
Green tea is super healthy, so it’s no surprise that it has also been shown to help fight insulin resistance. A review of 17 studies found that green tea significantly lowered insulin levels.
Like cinnamon and apple cider vinegar, this may not work for everyone. But since green tea is full of antioxidants and can aid in weight loss, there’s no harm in adding it to your diet.
Your doctor is the best person to help you figure out how to lower your insulin levels, but some of these tips might help! Of course, always talk to your doc before making any drastic lifestyle or diet changes.