Some natural treatments may help fight insulin resistance, a health condition known to raise your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In people with insulin resistance, the body fails to respond properly to insulin (a hormone that plays a key role in using blood sugar for energy). The body produces more and more insulin to help blood sugar (or "glucose") enter cells, but excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and, in turn, promotes the onset of diabetes. But by pairing certain natural treatments with essential lifestyle changes, you may be able to protect against insulin resistance.
Natural Treatments and Insulin Resistance
While the presence of specific genes appears to increase your odds of developing insulin resistance, some lifestyle factors (such as being overweight and not exercising regularly) could also raise your risk for this condition. Many people with insulin resistance also show signs of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of health problems known to increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess weight around your waist).
Working with your doctor to manage any major health issues should be your first step in addressing insulin resistance. In fact, by working out regularly, following a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight, you may be able to reverse insulin resistance and reduce your risk of diabetes and other chronic illnesses. There's also some evidence that getting sufficient sleep may help improve your insulin response. In addition, preliminary research suggests that the following natural treatments may offer some benefit when it comes to combating insulin resistance:
1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Following a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (a type of healthy fat found naturally in oily fish like salmon and sardines) may help fight insulin resistance, according to a 2008 study of 12 older adults. After eating 720 grams of fatty fish weekly and 15 ml of sardine oil daily, study members showed an improvement in insulin sensitivity (as well as a decrease in inflammation).
Ashwagandha may help improve insulin sensitivity and normalize blood sugar levels, a 2008 study on rats shows. Often touted as an adaptogen, ashwagandha is widely used in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India).
In a 2009 study on mice, scientists discovered that 4-hydroxyisoleucine (a fenugreek-derived amino acid) may help stimulate the secretion of insulin, reduce insulin resistance, and decrease blood sugar levels. However, a 2009 research review found that there is very limited human-based evidence to support the use of fenugreek in diabetes management.
Should You Use Natural Remedies for Insulin Resistance?
Due to a lack of scientific support, it's too soon to recommend the use of natural treatments for insulin resistance. If you're interested in using any type of natural treatment to manage or prevent insulin resistance, make sure to consult your physician.
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