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  • Writer's pictureJulia Smila

Improve Your Metabolism & Reduce Insulin Resistance

Do you sometimes struggle with any or all of the following?

  • Your energy is low and you drag through your day?

  • You have “Brain Fog'' that makes it hard to communicate and remember normally?

  • You get “Hangry” and have irresistible food cravings?

  • Your Hangry moves to snappy irritability?

Very often High Blood Sugar causes all the symptoms mentioned above.

Over 60% of Americans over 40 are not metabolically fit, and have blood sugar levels out of balance. Most don't even know it.

These people struggle to metabolize carbohydrates, that's the process of breaking down carbs to produce the sugar used to fuel the body. And with age this problem only gets worse. That's why so many seniors struggle with blood sugar regulation. But maintaining blood sugar levels is important regardless of age.

How does Your Blood Sugar work?

Glucose is a sugar that acts as your body's primary source of energy. Your brain and central nervous system depend on glucose to thrive. Mitochondria, the 'power plant' inside your cells, combine glucose and oxygen to create ATP (cellular energy). ATP powers your cells and promotes cell growth.

When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which prompts your cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This causes your blood sugar levels to drop. Too many carbs and sugars cause unpredictable spikes in your blood sugar making your body less sensitive to insulin.

State when cells in the muscles, fat, and liver don't respond well to insulin and can't easily take up glucose from the blood called Insulin resistance. As a result, the pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter the cells.

It's worse for those not getting enough exercise, not getting enough sleep, or under too much stress. Insulin issues lead to not enough glucose absorption, and excess glucose in the bloodstream.

High blood sugar causes such symptoms as low energy, brain fog, uncontrollable hunger, irritability. But not just these symptoms.

In fact, insulin resistance is one of the hallmarks of aging. Increased insulin resistance is a harbinger of many aging-related diseases and ailments. It increases the risk of heart attacks, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, being overweight and having difficulty losing weight, osteoarthritis, macular degeneration, and so on.

When we get older, we automatically become more insulin resistant. It’s a part of the aging process. However, you can considerably slow down the pace of insulin resistance. The opposite of insulin resistance is insulin sensitivity. The more sensitive and less resistant your body is to insulin, the healthier. So it’s very important to be insulin sensitive as long as possible.

How to Measure Insulin Resistance?

One way is to measure insulin resistance via a blood draw fasting insulin levels and fasting glucose levels. If fasting insulin or glucose levels are increased, this could be a sign of insulin resistance. Fasting insulin and glucose are used to calculate HOMA-IR, which is also a measure of insulin resistance.

Another way is to measure glycation of red blood cells (called HbA1c). If the red blood cells are too glycated, meaning too many sugars stick to the red blood cells, that could be a sign of glucose levels being too high because of insulin resistance.

You can also do an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), in which you drink a large amount of sugar and then the levels of blood glucose are measured every few hours to see how long the glucose keeps circulating in your blood.

Some biohackers resort to buying a continuous blood glucose monitor, like the Dexcom, Veri, or Nutrisense , to have a better idea how their body processes sugars after every meal or after stressful situations. It is good to use such device for some time for education purposes because you can see your body's response in real time.

I prefer to measure glycation of red blood cells (called HbA1c). This biomarker is included in the InsideTracker blood test, you can get it 25% off by my Link or use promo code SMILAPRO25. Feel free Book a Consultation with me if you want to learn more about how the InsideTracker App works.

While glucose normally fluctuates throughout the day, especially after meals, high fasting glucose levels, in combination with Hemoglobin A1c, can indicate an issue with how the body processes glucose. Glucose can also be elevated due to stress, a poor night's sleep, and not fasting 12 hours before your blood test.

Hemoglobin A1C, or HbA1c, represents the average amount of glucose in your blood for the past 90-120 days. If it is not used right away, glucose can bind to the hemoglobin inside your red blood cells. Unlike your fasting blood glucose level, which is the measure of glucose at the time it was drawn, HbA1c provides a measurement of your glucose levels over the period of several months.

Elevated HbA1c is associated with an impaired ability to process glucose, increased fasting blood glucose levels, decreased cognition, and decreased longevity.

Ways to reduce Insulin Resistance and improve Insulin Sensitivity

It is vital that everyone worried about blood sugar levels reduces consumption of processed and sweetened foods, exercises more often, and consumes more high quality nutrients to maintain more balanced blood sugar levels.

If you have been tested for Insulin Resistance, consult with your doctor.

Here are some recommendations which help my body to be more sensitive and less resistant to insulin:

  • Probiotic Foods

Some examples of probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, fermented soy such as tempeh and miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickled vegetables, and certain cheeses like gouda, cheddar, and cottage cheese. Probiotics are live microorganisms that have been shown to have health benefits when consumed. They interact with our intestinal microbiome to boost their health, growth, and activity.

A healthy gut has been linked to so many aspects of health such as stress, sleep, energy levels, and of course digestive health. Fasting glucose levels have been shown to improve after regular consumption of probiotic foods, specifically kimchi and sauerkraut as they are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Probiotic foods have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels in many ways. Recent studies found that fermented soy and yogurt in particular have been shown to lower elevated cholesterol levels.

Serving sizes vary depending on the food, however serving sizes of some common probiotic foods include 1 cup of yogurt, 3/4 cup of kefir, 2/3 cup of kimchi, 1/4 cup of fermented soy products like tempeh or miso, and 1/4 cup of sauerkraut. The best ways to eat probiotic foods are with any other foods. The probiotics in these foods help maximize nutrient extraction and absorption from all other foods. Tips:

Be sure to check the label and ensure that it says "contains live active cultures". Sometimes the beneficial bacteria can be killed off during processing. Kimchi is a wonderful addition to grilled cheese, avocado toast, or as a burger topping. Mix 1 cup of kefir with 2 tbsp of chia seeds and refrigerate overnight. You'll have a great chia seed pudding base to add raspberries, banana, strawberries, cinnamon, and honey. Add a few tablespoons of miso paste to your next soup or stir fry.

  • Moderate Intensity Cardio

Get your heart pumping with some moderate intensity cardio like walking, swimming, or biking. Aerobic activity results in more glucose transporters on your muscles. This helps to make uptake of glucose into your muscles from your bloodstream more efficiently, also known as Insulin sensitivity. Regular aerobic activity, especially after large meals, is an effective way to lower fasting blood glucose levels. Moreover, regular aerobic exercise is the best supplement you could ever take. It physically increases the size of your heart muscle and makes it more efficient at moving your blood, oxygen, nutrients, and waste products through your system. It also impacts your metabolism, immune system, and mental health.

Increase your cardio workouts to 5 days per week, challenge yourself to hit at least 30 minutes every session for the maximal benefit. If you track your heart rate during exercise, be sure to get it above 99 beats per minute (bpm). Tips:

Head out for a jog with a podcast.

Add your workouts to your calendar to keep yourself on track. We are all busy, but staying healthy should always be a priority.

Find a type of exercise you enjoy. Go on a hike, dance like no one's watching, or ask a friend to join you for a bike ride or spin class.

Try to incorporate a few different types of activities, so you don't get bored. Don't ignore pain! If you are in pain from any particular exercise talk to a trainer or your doctor.

  • Healthy Sleep

Sleep duration of less than 7 hours per night is associated with elevated lipid levels. Both inadequate and excess sleep duration are associated with increased blood sugar levels.

Improve the quality of your sleep, get to bed as early as possible. Yes, I know this is a tough one. But your body does all of its important work while you’re sleeping. Your body detoxes, your brain restores, and your key organ systems use this time to repair. It’s recommended that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even weekends.

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as "ubiquinone", is an antioxidant molecule found in nearly every cell in the body that aids in energy production and helps prevent cell damage. CoQ10 levels naturally decline with age, but can be increased through supplements and foods such as fatty fish, organ meats, nuts, and poultry.

The link between blood sugar and CoQ10 has been seen in observational studies where people who had higher blood sugar levels or diabetes tended to also have lower CoQ10 levels than healthy participants. Controlled trials found that CoQ10 supplementation resulted in lower glucose and hemoglobin A1c. I personally do not take CoQ10 as a separate supplement itself. I get it included in my personalized vitamin and mineral complex by Rootine. My recommended dosage is 100 milligrams (mg) of CoQ10 each day.

Take your vitamin and mineral supplement at mealtimes or with a fat-containing snack since CoQ10 can only be absorbed by the body when consumed with a fat source. Some individuals have also reported trouble sleeping after taking CoQ10, so it is best to take your supplement in the morning. Warning: Consult a medical doctor before taking any nutritional supplements which I mentioned. If you are pregnant, nursing, have or suspect a medical condition, or are taking any medications, please consult a doctor before acting on any of my recommendations.

  • Up your Minerals

Low magnesium levels are associated with Insulin resistance. I recommend Magnesium malate powder, which is the best form of magnesium. Chromium, zinc and copper minerals also play a role in insulin sensitivity.

All these minerals I also get it included in my personalized vitamin and mineral complex by Rootine, based on my blood work results.

  • Address inflammation

Lingering, low-grade inflammation can contribute to Insulin resistance. Omega-3 fatty acids, ginger, curcumin, zinc, fisetin, glucosamine, butyric acid, pterostilbene, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, green tea, and a low-sugar/starch diet reduce inflammation.

Some of these ingredients can be found in NOVOS Core which I use and recommend as the most advanced longevity supplements, you can get 6 month and 12 month prepaid subscriptions (15% and 27% off respectively) by Link, and get additional $5 off by promo code SMILA

  • Less sugary foods

That means much, much less (or no) soda, sweets, biscuits, cake, candy bars, and so on. Replace sugary soda with for example (flavored) water, green tea, low-sugar vegetable juices, or coffee. Replace unhealthy snacks with nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, or low-sugar vegetable protein bars.

  • Healthy Fats

Replace unhealthy fats with more healthy fats. Unhealthy fats are trans fats, most omega-6 fatty acids and many saturated fats (keep in mind that not all saturated fats are unhealthy, e.g. short saturated fats like butyrate and caprylic acids are in fact healthy).

In general, try to avoid fried foods, fast-food, and bakery products. More specifically, reduce your intake of crackers, cookies, cakes, and other baked foods, refrigerated dough products (e.g. cinnamon rolls, biscuits, …), snack foods (e.g. microwave popcorn), fast-food (e.g. frozen pizza), ready-to-eat meals, various vegetable shortenings (made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), French fries, and omega-6 rich oils and fasts, like sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil, margarine, sesame oil, mayonnaise and many salad dressings.

Try to eat more healthy fats like in olives, olive oil, walnuts, seeds (flaxseed, chia seed), fatty fish, avocado and so on.

  • Vegetables, vegetables and veggies

Consume much more vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, kale, and so on. To increase your intake of vegetables, replace your starchy foods (e.g. potatoes, pasta, rice) more with vegetables (keep in mind that potatoes do not belong to these healthy vegetables). So instead of potatoes, pasta or rice try to eat cauliflower, broccoli or spinach for example.

However, some people can be sensitive to such vegetables even though they are healthy vegetables. If you continue eating foods which you are sensitive to it leads to: Inflammation of the entire intestinal area, Dysbiosis, overgrowth of Candida and H pylori or other infections and infestations; Leaky gut, Liver congestion, impaired immunity and detox capacity. Unfortunately you can not identify which foods you are sensitive to without blood work because you may not have any symptoms at all.

I recommend testing for Food Sensitivities from time to time. The MRT blood test, which I order for my clients, measures these sensitivities by watching the white blood cell count in real time as food is introduced, and looking at the number of pro-inflammatory chemicals that are released.

  • Black Tea

Research has shown that including a cup of black tea with a meal can help to blunt rises in blood glucose levels (referred to as postprandial glucose). The polyphenols and antioxidants in this type of tea can help to lower your body's glycemic response to a meal, and lead to a significantly lower postprandial glucose level.

  • Oolong Tea

Research shows that the polyphenols in oolong tea lower blood sugar levels. They also reduce insulin resistance, as well as reduce the risk of many other aging-related diseases and symptoms, like atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of purified water after each meal, it can improve insulin sensitivity.

  • No Smoking

The toxic substances inhaled from smoke increase insulin resistance, inflammation and DNA damage.

  • Avoid Alcohol

Many countries still claim it’s ok to drink two units of alcohol per day. However, large recent studies show that this is still too much. Ideally, one should consume a maximum of one glass of alcohol per day, including also alcohol-free days.

  • Fasting

There are many fasting methods, including 6:8 hour Intermittent fasting, which I follow from time to time.

But if you fast for 3 days, only then you enter ketosis properly and all kinds of repair mechanisms kick into action, including a reset of your metabolism, and even repair and regeneration of your stem cells.

You can try fast for 3 days at the start of every new season. If you have Insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or diabetes, you could do more regular 3 day fasts, like every month or so, especially in the beginning.

Keep in mind that on day two, the hunger has often subsided considerably, and people are better able to concentrate because ketones are now used as fuel.

If a 3 day fast is too long for you, try at least a 24 hour fast (that is the minimum amount to switch from a glucose-fueled metabolism to a fat-ketone fueled metabolism after glycogen reserves have depleted, which takes around 24 hours).

Warning: Fasting or Intermittent Fasting for Menstruating Females should be adjusted according to their female biorhythm, female hormone cycle. Fasting during the menstruation phase is safe because the metabolism is slower, energy needs are lower. Fasting is also okay during the ovulation phase. During the other phases I do NOT recommend fasting or a low carb diet because it can harm your hormones.

  • Probiotics

There are specific probiotics/bacteria that can improve insulin resistance. According to the research, overall, results from 27 probiotic interventions (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Clostridium and Akkermansia) indicated significant beneficial changes in Insulin resistance measures in animal studies. (Research)

For example, a company called Pendulum created a novel probiotic that can reduce Insulin resistance (I personally have not tried it yet). Their probiotic contains various strains of bacteria that a standard off-the-shelf probiotic does not contain. They did a scientific study demonstrating improved insulin sensitivity, and some people claim they achieved very good results with this product.

  • Blood Sugar Support

Blood Sugar Support supplement by True Cellular Formulas is designed to support healthy blood sugar levels. It contains cinnamon, mulberry leaf, chromium, bitter melon, banaba, guggul, and other powerful glucose metabolism ingredients. Clinical research backs it all up. You can get it 15% off by my Link or use promo code JuliaSmila.

  • Reduce Distress

All kinds of Distress cause the release of catabolic hormone Cortisol. This stress hormone increases Insulin resistance, as well as causes malfunctions and imbalances in all systems of the body, they all are interconnected - hormonal, immune, digestion, detoxification, energy production, oxidative stress.

When working with my clients as an FDN-P, I investigate all possible kinds of stress including functional assessment of hidden stressors in the body with selected labs. Feel free to Book a Consultation to learn more.

Give me feedback if any of the recommendations sound reasonable for you and you follow or are going to start following them.

The more you can lower your Insulin resistance, the healthier you will be, and the more you slow down the aging process and reduce your risk of many aging diseases and symptoms.

Sending Optimal Health & Ultimate Wellness,

Julia Smila, FDN Practitioner

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