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8 ways to improve insulin sensitivity

1. Get enough sleep

A good night's sleep not only benefits your health, but a lack of sleep can be quite detrimental as it can increase your risk of things such as infections, inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.

Many studies have shown that poor sleep time and quality can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity and thus to an increase in significant weight gain over time. Studies have comprehensively shown that getting just 4 hours sleep a night compared to 8 has been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity and ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

2. Eat more soluble fibre

Fibre can be grouped into 2 types - soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble fibres, such as celluclose, hemicellulose and lignin, cannot be dissolved in water and is therefore acts more as a bulking agent to help stool move through the bowels. Soluble fibres, such as pectins and mucilage, on the other hand is dissolved in water when it passes through the stomach and intestines.

It is for this reason that soluble fibre has more of the health benefits that are associated with fibre, such as lowering fat absorption, lowering cholesterol, stabilising blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and as a prebiotic to feed the good gut bacteria.

The best food sources of fibre are - chia seeds, oats, psylllium husk, fruits and vegetables with the skin on, dried beans, lentils and flax seeds.

3. Exercise

Daily exercise and making sure that you are not sedentary is one of the best ways to improve your insulin sensitivity. Moving your body helps to move glucose into the muscles for storage and an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity which can last anywhere up to 48 hours post exercise. This effect has been shown with both resistance training and cardio so my advice to get the best benefits - combine both in your exercise schedule to get the best results.

4. Cinnamon

The spice cinnamon is not only delicious but also packed with many antioxidants. In many clinical trials, it has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lowers blood sugar levels and improve your sensitivity to insulin. Cinnamon can help insulin in doing it job of regulating metabolism and energy levels and transporting glucose into your cells.

5. Consume Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic

Turmeric - the active constituent in turmeric is called Curcumin which has been shown to have strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which helps to reduce free fatty acids and circulating sugar in the blood.

Ginger - Many studies have shown that Gingerol makes sugar receptors on muscle cells more available and thus able to increase sugar uptake.

Garlic - the active constituent in garlic, Allicin, has been shown to not only help reduce blood sugar levels but also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, reduce cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.

6. Lose weight

Excess visceral weight (weight around the organs and belly area greatly reduces your insulin sensitivity and increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The best way to reduce your insulin sensitivity? - lose weight and reduce your belly fat. A study at John Hopkins University found that pre-diabetic people who lost between 5-7% of their total weight over a period of 6 months reduced their risk of diabetes by just over half.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar has been shown to delay the stomach from releasing food into the intestines, this giving the body more time to absorb the sugar into the bloodstream. One particular study found that consuming apple cider vinegar with a high carb meal increase insulin sensitivity by 34% in people who were insulin resistant and by 19% in people with type 2 diabetes.

8. Green Tea

The antioxidant withing green tea - epigallocatechin gallate - has been shown to significantly increase insulin sensitivity and in reducing blood sugar levels. In several studies it has been shown that Green tea can significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels. All the more reason to have that cup of green tea in the afternoon instead of reaching for the biscuit tin.

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