So by now you’ve probably watched a number of my videos, and/or read my articles, and know that we mainly focus on cutting down refined carbohydrates and sugars in the diet, to cut down the body’s secretion of insulin, to help return your health. You know high insulin and carbohydrate levels are linked to inflammation, tumor growth, increased cholesterol, triglycerides, heart disease, strokes, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, and so on.
Basically, almost all of the chronic diseases we suffer from in this country today can be at least partially linked to high insulin and carbohydrate intake.
So how do we cut down our insulin production and blood sugar swings?
Here are eleven steps:
The quickest way to cut down your secretion of insulin and balance blood sugar is to cut carbs. Start with the cakes, cookies, pies, breads, chips, baked good, candy, soft drinks, and fruit juices, and then move on to starches like potatoes. If you’re still having health symptoms, problems with blood sugar, altered lab tests, or trouble losing weight, then cut out fruit.
Start with the high sugar fruits, like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes, and move on to cut out the other fruits. Low carb fruits, such as raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, and non-starchy vegetables almost never have to be cut out. In fact, veggies should never be cut out as they help your liver balance blood sugar and blood fats. On the other hand, high carbohydrate dairy, like milk, should usually be cut out in the beginning steps of counting carbs.
Eat a moderate amount of protein
Protein, also causes your body to secrete insulin, although not as much as carbohydrates. However, it’s hard to eat too much protein, and in our society, it’s not as common as overeating carbs. That’s why we don’t concentrate on it. Our bodies need protein to make enzymes and rebuild muscle, hair, skin, and nails. Protein is needed by our bodies to make enzymes and rebuild tissues such as muscle, hair, skin and nails. So don’t skimp on it! Keep this in mind: the lower the fat content of the protein source, the more insulin you will produce. That’s why I recommend full-fat meat, eggs, fattier fish and chicken and so on. Eating your protein with fat such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, low carb cheese and butter will lessen insulin secretion. Stick to protein servings the size of the palm of your hand three times per day, and you’ll be fine.
Eat moderate to high amounts of fat
Fat slows down sugar absorption, to blunt blood sugar and insulin spikes. Fat is the only macronutrient that does not cause insulin secretion. Most fat sources, such as nuts, seeds, low carb dairy, oils, and butter, create a small insulin surge because they almost always naturally occur with small amounts of proteins and carbohydrate. In fact, the more protein and carbohydrate they have in them, the more they secrete insulin (but it’s still a small amount). Include a little extra fat at each meal. Good fat sources are low carb dairy, butter, seeds, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and nut butters.
Besides being high in fiber (helping you to feel full), veggies slow down sugar absorption, and keep your bowel healthy (and therefore aids in liver detoxification) In addition, non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates, and high in the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Vegetables are especially important in detoxing the body. They also help you body to break down fats (i.e. they help to lower cholesterol, and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol). One of the common complaints of older ketogenic diets was that they did not contain vegetables, which puts you at risk for fatty liver syndrome (and other problems) if you don’t eat plenty of them while you diet. I speak from experience: I’ve followed a low carb lifestyle for many years, but did not incorporate enough veggies into my diet. I ended up suffering from liver toxicity. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are especically good for minimizing blood sugar spikes and resensitizing your body to insulin, since they powerfully detox the liver. For an easy way to get in your veggies, see my Kale shake video).
Sleep helps lower stress hormones like cortisol, and bolsters feel-good hormones like serotonin. Since you are not eating while you sleep, your pancreas and liver also get a break, allowing them to regenerate helping to resensitize your cells to insulin for better blood sugar control. Sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease insulin sensitivity to levels seen in people who are diabetic, and/or obese. Bottom line: If you want to have healthy blood sugar control, sleep enough. People need plenty of sleep, 7-9 hours minimum. If health is your goal, try getting more like 9 hours per night.
Stress causes the release of cortisol, which tanks your body’s sensitivity to insulin (bad!), and causes blood sugar spikes. Good ways to decrease stress include low intensity exercise (like walking, qi Gong, tai chi, and yoga), mindful meditation, adopting the dietary changes I talk about above (a low carb, medium fat, medium protein, high vegetable diet prevents blood sugar swings and lowers stress hormones, like cortisol), getting on the proper nutritional supplement program, and handling any stress you have in your life (wow is that a whole topic in itself-see my video on that).
Every time you eat, your body secretes insulin to counteract the blood sugar spikes. One of the best ways to decrease insulin production and blood sugar spikes is just to cut down the number of times you eat per day. You could even skip a meal (whichever meal is easiest to skip for you), and do an intermittent fast. I have one patient that comes into my office, a 13 year old young man, who was pre-diabetic. We had him cut carbs, while increasing fat, and he started exercising more. He also confided in me that he felt like lunch was too much for him, so he started skipping it. I made sure that he was eating enough, as he was still growing, and he was, just skipping lunch. He stopped gaining weight, and is now at a healthy weight for his height (he “grew in to” his weight). What’s more, it’s something he came up with that he likes, and works for him. I myself was snacking a lot during the day, and stopping that was one of the things that helped me recently drop 20 pounds of belly fat (along with increasing my intake of kale, cutting milk, and doing just a little fasted cardiovascular exercise in the morning-like 15 minutes).
Exercise resensitizes insulin receptors, and stabilizes blood sugar, but only in the muscles exercised. That’s why weight lifting works better. Also, for every pound of muscle you gain, your insulin receptors will work better further stabilizing blood sugar. For maximum benefits, combine weight training and cardiovascular training.
Performing fasted cardio, aka doing cardio first thing in the morning, really sensitizes your cells to insulin and raises fat burning hormones, adding to long term blood sugar stabilization. The key is, don’t do it too hard, in other words, not over 60% of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Take this number, multiply by .6, and this is where you should keep your pulse while performing fasted cardio. For example, I’m 45, so (220-45) x.6 is 105. When I perform fasted cardio, I keep my pulse around 105. Good activities for morning fasted cardio are walking, jogging, biking, and yoga.
My wife always says, “Sitting is the new smoking!” Studies have shown that sitting a lot is just as detrimental to your health as smoking! What defines as “sitting a lot”? Having a desk job where you sit all day qualifies. If you have a desk job, think about getting a standing desk, or even a treadmill desk, or getting up every hour our half hour for 5 minutes of walking or stretching, or even calisthenics.
Ah yes, the part that everyone wants to hear, what pill can I take to make me feel better! First, get in the 8 steps above, because I always say, diet and lifestyle first! That being said, here’s what will help to lower blood sugar and resensitize your cells to insulin, safely and effectively:
- Glyc-Aide-This is my go-to product from Ulan Nutritional Systems. I’ve seen it work time and time again.
- Gymnema-This has a long history of helping blood sugar issues. I like the one from MediHerb because of its high quality. In a lot of other herbal products, you can’t always tell how much they contain of the actual herb.
- Zinc, chromium and Magnesium-The majority of patients with Type 2 Diabetes and blood sugar issues have been shown to be deficient in these three minerals. Supplementing with them helps. I like to use Standard Process for these supplements.
- Other supplements for the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and adrenals-as determined by Nutrition Response Testing. If you’re interested in a Nutrition Response Testing consultation, go here or give us a call at 717-392-6606 to schedule!