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Combat Insulin Resistance Naturally

Insulin is the hormone released into our bloodstream after we eat food. It ensures that glucose enters our cells where it’s used for energy. When we consume more food than what our cells need, we store the excess glucose as glycogen in our liver and muscles. When these stores are full, we convert it into fatty acids and it’s stored as fat.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. As a result, our pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter our cells. Eventually, though, the pancreas can’t keep up, and blood sugars keep rising. High blood sugars in the body can be very damaging and so the glucose needs to swiftly be moved into cells. When the muscles and liver are full, eventually the excess is stored as body fat.

Risk Factors For Insulin Resistance

  • Overeating

  • Consumption of processed and refined foods

  • A diet high in refined carbohydrates

  • A sedentary lifestyle

  • Excess fat mass around the midline (visceral fat)

  • Oestrogen dominance

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • A family history of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (a combination of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and visceral fat) or heart disease

Common symptoms of high blood sugar

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Increased hunger

  • Blurred vision

  • Headaches

  • Increased infections

  • Slow-healing wounds

  • Weight gain

  • Sugar cravings

  • Feeling shaky

  • Sweating

  • Anxiety and nervousness

  • Confusion

  • Fatigue

  • Light-headed or dizzy

  • Feeling hangry

  • Carbohydrate sensitivity

Tips to improve insulin sensitivity

Intermittent Fasting

This is one of the best ways to improve insulin resistance. Fasting for extended periods re-sensitises cells to insulin lowers circulating insulin for extended periods each day, lower inflammation, and gives the digestive tract an opportunity to heal. Be gentle with this, no need for strict rules. Avoid eating after dinner and don’t eat again until you’re hungry the next day.

Avoid refined carbohydrates

There’s no need to be afraid of carbs, just choose them wisely. Instead of white bread, pasta, and pastries, opt for complex carbs like green leafies, red rice, rolled oats, buckwheat, beans and legumes.

Include adequate protein & quality fats

Combining carbs (even starchy vege like beetroot, carrot, and potatoes) with fats and proteins will mean more stable blood sugars between meals. Example: Roast vege and chicken, avocado and eggs on toast.

Fruit - Yay or nay?

Skip out on dried fruit but don’t be too afraid of fresh fruit, simply combine it with some fats or protein. For example, chia pudding with yoghurt and banana.


Sprinkle a good amount on breakfast, roast vegies or in your smoothie. Studies have found it improves insulin sensitivity.


Take a walk for ten minutes after your meals. Moving within 90 minutes of the end of your meal prevents blood sugar drops. As your muscles contract, they soak up glucose that’s arriving in your bloodstream, reducing spikes.

Strength training

Exercise improves insulin sensitivity in the muscles by increasing the number of mitochondria (energy-creating factories within our cells) that convert food to energy.

Quality Sleep

Without sufficient restorative sleep, our insulin sensitivity, cortisol levels and satiety hormones are impacted. Studies have shown that people who get less than seven hours of sleep a day are more likely to have poor glucose tolerance and suffer thyroid issues.

Feed Your Microbiome

The community of bugs that live in our digestive tract impacts the way we metabolize food, convert it to energy and store it for future use. Moreover, poor gut bacteria can contribute to sugar cravings. You can encourage a healthy microbiome by consuming coconut water kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, natto and pot set yoghurt.


Fibre helps control blood sugar and is also an excellent fuel source for your beneficial gut bacteria. Options include a tsp of psyllium in warm water, a tbsp of ground flaxseed or hemp seeds, a tbsp of soaked chia seeds, handful of nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

One tablespoon of ACV (with the mother ideally), diluted in a glass of water, drunk up to 20 minutes before a meal, reduces the glucose spike of the meal by up to 30%. This trick works as vinegar tells your muscles to soak up glucose faster and slows down the breakdown of starches into glucose.

Manage stress

Find something you enjoy that relaxes you and engage in it daily. Stress increases cortisol which promotes visceral adiposity (tummy fat) and insulin resistance because it breaks down muscle and causes cravings.

Hydrotherapy & Yoga

There’s a small study showing that daily hot-tub therapy over six weeks improved blood glucose management, reduced reliance on insulin and reduced weight in diabetic patients. A systematic review has also shown yoga to be associated with significant improvements in lipid profiles, blood pressure, waist/hip ratio and cortisol levels in diabetic patients.

Herbal & Nutritional Supplements

Berberine, Bitter Melon and Gymnema Sylvestre are known to reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. They can protect against diabetic complications and facilitate normal carbohydrate metabolism. Portulaca and fenugreek show promising research here too. Taurine, inositol, chromium picolinate, lipoic acid, and magnesium also improve insulin sensitivity.

These supplements in the right doses and combinations can be prescribed for you in naturopathic consultation. Book a free 10-minute chat to find out where to start and how natural medicine can help.


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