Insulin is one of the essential hormones in our bodies, produced by beta-pancreatic cells. Our body needs energy to perform metabolic activities. The energy comes from the glucose present in the food. For example, when we consume a meal, the food releases glucose into our bloodstream for the body to utilise.
The pancreas produces insulin in response to this glucose. It ensures that the cells can adequately absorb the sugars and efficiently convert them into energy and control the glucose in our bloodstream at any given time. However, when an individual’s pancreas cannot control the amount of insulin hormone it secretes and produces excess amounts, it leads to ‘Hyperinsulinemia’. This condition usually arises in diabetes patients suffering from insulin resistance.
Too much insulin in the blood leads to persistent low blood sugar levels, which can cause many health issues such as dizziness, frequent fainting, and heart problems. In addition, it can be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes when you have too much. Hence, individuals who are diabetic or pre-diabetic must take early preventive measures to avoid health complications due to high insulin levels. In addition, you can make necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to lower insulin levels.
Studies show how simple nutritional modifications can help reduce a patient’s insulin resistance and lower their insulin levels. You should know how each food affects your body in specific ways and consciously modify the meal portions accordingly. Once you realise your insulin levels are too high, you need to do something to lower them. Fortunately, you can try a few things to get those insulin levels back to normal.
Ways to Lower Insulin Levels
Getting one’s insulin levels to fall to the desirable range doesn’t happen in a day or two. But having said that, it is possible to lower your insulin levels eventually- all one needs is to be consistent in their diet, make the necessary lifestyle modifications, and stick to them for a lifetime. Below are some essential tips on what to include and cut out from one’s daily life to lower the body’s insulin levels.
Stay Physically Active
Avoiding a vegetative and sedentary lifestyle is essential to lower insulin levels. However, staying active does not mean that one has to take up labour intensive chores. Instead, you can start by getting out of your desk and taking frequent short breaks to get up and move around. You can also perform dynamic stretches while moving from room to room. Simple household activities like cleaning up your cupboard, doing the dishes, or even making yourself a cup of tea can help make your body stretch out. It helps in increasing blood and oxygen flow through the body, hence decreasing stress levels and insulin spikes.
Regular exercise is essential for healthy and diabetic or pre-diabetic individuals. Physical activity is one of the best ways to get one’s insulin levels lower, especially if they are overweight or obese and are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. While all sorts of exercises are beneficial, research shows that aerobic exercises are far more effective in lowering insulin levels than other types. So, whatever you choose to do, try to get in at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day or a few times a week.
Cut Down Your Carbs
Everyone loves delicious bowls of pasta, biryanis and potato crisps, but these carbohydrate-heavy foods do you more harm than good. Carbs raise both blood sugar and insulin levels quite considerably. Multiple studies have shown the importance of cutting down on a carb-rich diet to reduce insulin levels and blood pressure. Instead, it is better to opt for a low carb diet rich in fibres, vegetables, beans, fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and nuts.
Carbohydrates are the ones that cause the most significant insulin spikes. As a result, people with insulin resistance may see their insulin levels drop dramatically with carb restriction.
Watch Your Protein Intake
While a healthy amount of protein is good for insulin production, too much of it is a problem. Proteins stimulate insulin production. Hence, eating a lot of protein will increase your insulin levels.
Proteins, especially fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, tofu, soybeans, lentils and beans, are beneficial in reducing insulin levels. However, not all proteins are the same. Proteins present in red meats such as pork, beef and venison cause you harm more than benefit. Additionally, you must limit consuming protein powders rich in whey and casein as they stimulate the body to produce more proteins, leading to a dangerous spike in insulin levels.
Manage The Portions
Individuals often complain of not seeing any change in their insulin levels despite eating healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle. The results are lacking because you need to watch how much food you eat. If you eat too much in a single sitting, your pancreas produce more insulin. Too much insulin leads to ‘hyperinsulinemia’, especially if you have high body weight and insulin resistance. Cutting down on the calories and eating smaller portions can reduce your insulin sensitivity and lower your insulin levels. Eating smaller amounts is crucial for healthy insulin levels, no matter your diet type.
Bid Farewell To Sugar
It is essential for individuals with a high insulin level to cut down on their sugar intake and carbohydrates. Consuming too much sugar increases the glucose level in one’s bloodstream, leading to insulin resistance in the long run. In addition, studies have shown how excessive consumption of sugar-rich foods like candy leads to increased insulin levels and weight gain.
Try Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting has appeared as a weight-loss trend in recent times, it has many more benefits. Intermittent fasting focuses on making individuals follow a strict timing chart on when to consume meals such that there are sufficiently large gaps between any two meals consumed. The meal gap allows the body to slow down the digestion process and ensures that excessive sugars are not absorbed suddenly. However, this fasting method might not be suitable for everyone, and it is essential to consult a doctor or dietician before trying out the same. In addition, not every type of intermittent fasting works for lowering insulin. Alternate-day fasting seems to be most effective.
If you want to reduce your insulin levels, weight loss is something you can consider. In this case, losing belly fat or visceral fat can lower your insulin levels. Belly fat is visceral fat, which is dangerous to your health. Visceral fat in your belly increases insulin resistance, leading to high insulin levels. Losing that fat can lower insulin levels considerably.
Wonder Foods to Lower Your Insulin Levels
Studies show how cinnamon is exceptionally beneficial in helping individuals lower their insulin levels. This humble spice adds a bit of sweetness to your palettes, but it also helps improve insulin sensitivity, thus preventing excessive insulin secretions.
Inflammation alters your insulin levels to an unhealthy range. Cinnamon extract is beneficial in controlling proinflammatory substances and actively reducing inflammation. As a result, cinnamon extract inhibits the insulin spike from inflammation. You can add 1–6 grams or 0.5–2 teaspoons of cinnamon to your daily diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day is one of the most popular ways to promote weight loss. Not only that, it improves insulin sensitivity in people affected with Type-2 diabetes. ACV helps regulate the insulin secreted by the pancreas, thus reducing insulin levels. The effects of ACV on insulin are most noticeable when eaten with high-carb meals.
Apple cider vinegar is a fermented food product that works to reduce the insulin demand in your body. It ensures the absorption of sugar from the carbs and reduces post-meal blood glucose spikes. As a result, it decreases the need for insulin, keeping it in check.
Multiple studies show the effectiveness of green tea in reducing fasting insulin levels in our bodies. The insulin lowering nature is because Green teas are full of anti-diabetic antioxidants, which prevent insulin resistance in affected individuals. It also helps the pancreas monitor its insulin production.
Green tea is suitable for a diabetic-friendly diet, like cinnamon and apple cider vinegar. You can drink 4 cups per day.
When you consume soluble fibre, it soaks up water and creates a gel, slowing food flow through the intestinal tract. As a result, it increases feelings of fullness while preventing insulin levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. Soluble fibre can also boost the good bacteria in your colon, reducing insulin resistance. Green leafy vegetables, avocados, beans, sprouts, pears, figs, carrots and apples offer healthy soluble fibres.
Eating fatty fish like salmon, tilapia, cod, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies offers a healthy addition of omega-3 fats to your diet. In addition, it helps lose weight and reduces insulin resistance. For instance, a study shows that following an oily fish diet improves insulin sensitivity. The results conclude that insulin levels significantly decreased with the oily fish diet. If you do not like fish, you could try taking a fish oil supplement.
Reduce Your Insulin Levels with Healthy Drinks
Red Grapefruit Juice
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Calories: 104 kcal
- Grapefruit: 2 whole
- Watermelon (Diced): 1 cup
- Lemon juice: ½ tsp
- Ice cubes: 2 cups
- Rosemary: 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Blend up the grapefruit, the chopped watermelon and lemon juice together in a juicer.
- Add the ice cubes and blend them up.
- Garnish with grapefruit slices and rosemary and serve chilled.
Nutritional Value (per serving)
- Carbohydrate: 26 g
- Fibre: 1 g
- Protein: 1 g
Preparation Time: 35 mins
Calories: 93 kcal
- Semi-dried kokum: ½ cup
- Aspartame or stevia (or other sugar substitutes): 2 tbsp
- Cumin seed (Roasted and ground): 1 tsp
- Black salt: ½ tsp
Method of Preparation
- Combine semi-dried kokum and ½ cup of water in a bowl. Mix well and keep aside for 30 mins.
- Strain the kokum water and keep it aside.
- Blend the soaked kokum in a mixer using half the kokum water and blend till coarse. Keep aside.
- Combine the remaining half kokum water and aspartame in a small non-stick pan, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 mins while stirring occasionally. Let it cool after transferring it to a bowl.
- Once cooled, add the coarse kokum mixture and mix well. Strain it using a sieve. Add cumin seed powder and black salt and mix well.
- While serving, add 2 tbsp of this syrup into a glass along with ¾ cup chilled water and serve immediately.
Nutritional Value (per serving)
- Carbohydrate: 22 g
- Fibre: 0 g
- Protein: 1 g
Keeping insulin levels healthy is crucial for pre-diabetic, diabetic, and non-diabetic individuals. A persistently high insulin level in the body leads to many health problems such as insulin resistance and liver and pancreas related illnesses.
Through simple nutritional and lifestyle modifications, one can bring the insulin levels down to the desirable range and prevent the onset of diabetes-related complications. Leading an active life, getting at least 30 mins of exercise each day, and cutting out excessive sugars and carbohydrates are some simple steps. Also, opting for greens and fibre-rich foods, enjoying delicious well, balanced homemade meals in appropriate portions, and taking medications on time will eventually ensure healthier glucose and insulin levels in the body. Before starting a new diet or taking any new supplements, you should always consult with a doctor. Your doctor is the best person to help you figure out how to lower your insulin levels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What foods lower your insulin?
A. One must consume foods with a low Glycemic Index to keep their insulin levels in the healthy range. Foods such as avocados, berries, garlic, cinnamon, green leafy vegetables, sugar-free sour yoghurt and plain oatmeal help keep insulin levels under control. Additionally, one must opt for a low carbohydrate diet recommended by doctors or dieticians.
Q. How long does it take for insulin levels to lower?
A. The amount of time it takes for insulin levels to lower varies from person to person, depending on their metabolism. While in non-diabetic individuals, insulin levels return to normal within an hour or two after any meal, in diabetic patients, it can take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. But again, depending on the type of meal consumed and the person’s metabolism, it might take more than 6 hours in some cases.
Q. What happens if insulin levels are too high?
A. In some cases, high insulin levels often lead to serious health problems such as the increased risk of heart diseases, improper pancreatic functions, excessive weight gain, thyroid, liver problems, and even pancreatic cancer. In addition, living with chronically high insulin levels, also known as hyperinsulinemia, can lead to obesity.
Q. Does coffee raise insulin?
A. Plain coffee has chemicals such as polyphenols, molecules with antioxidant properties. In addition, these antioxidants in caffeine reduce insulin levels when taken in appropriate amounts and prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes in individuals. However, coffee mixed with excessive amounts of sweeteners and synthetic flavour syrups might cause insulin levels to shoot up and cause health problems in the long run.
Q. How can I lower my insulin level quickly?
A. There is no cheat sheet to get your insulin levels to lower quickly. Instead, you need to make lifestyle and dietary changes and consistently stick to a healthy routine to ensure that the body can naturally regulate its insulin levels efficiently.
Q. How can I lower my insulin level naturally?
A. You can naturally lower insulin levels by making particular lifestyle and dietary changes. You must always stay active and ensure to get at least 30 mins of exercise every day. Additionally, opt for a low carbohydrate and low sugar diet, which will provide a healthy weight and keep insulin levels in the healthy range.
Q. What foods increase insulin?
A. Foods with a high glycemic level lead to an increase in insulin levels. These are typically carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods such as white grain containing foods, sugary drinks, fast foods, fruits such as ripened bananas and dried fruits, high-fat milk and high starch vegetables such as potatoes.
Q. What triggers insulin?
A. When we consume food, glucose is absorbed by our gut into the bloodstream, which temporarily increases glucose levels. This rise in glucose leads to high insulin hormone secretion by the pancreas so that glucose can freely move inside the body to the cells. The more glucose you have in your blood, the more insulin your pancreas releases. However, hormones released during stressful events typically lower your insulin levels.
Q. Can drinking a lot of water lower your blood sugar?
A. People with diabetes need more water when blood sugar levels are high because the kidneys of diabetic individuals try to flush out excess sugars through urine to maintain a healthy glucose level in the body. Hence, drinking ample water makes this process more efficient, preventing blood sugar levels from rising.
Q. Does fasting lower insulin?
A. Intermittent fasting has proven to lower insulin levels in diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals because fasting gives our bodies more time to finish up the digestion process after every meal, increasing our metabolic rate. In addition, intermittent fasting effectively reduces body weight, decreasing the spike in insulin levels.