Weight loss is something that many people are trying (almost desperately) to attain. It seems to be a goal that drifts further away, sometimes even when we think we are on the right track. The good news is that research is always trying to better understand our amazing bodies and how foods can improve our health. We now understand the value of insulin and how important a balance of blood sugar and insulin is in weight management. For those of you who don’t know, insulin is a hormone that helps our body cells use glucose (energy for the cell to function). When things are not functioning as they should, our body cells may not respond to insulin and thereby not understand how to use glucose – meaning that our body cells pretty much starve. This “extra” glucose is then converted to fat, which gets stored around the body. Here are 5 ways we can help our bodies use insulin more efficiently:
Recent evidence published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming blueberries daily can help increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin – which can help decrease the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes! It was found that obese individuals who were not diabetic, but did have insulin resistance, were able to increase insulin sensitivity by 22% after 6 weeks! Greater sensitivity to insulin means that our bodies are using sugar (glucose) efficiently, rather than storing it as fat. An extra bonus – blueberries are delicious! Why wouldn’t we want another reason to love them?
Cinnamon is another great food which has been found to balance insulin levels in the body. A teaspoon a day, for 20 days, was able to improve insulin’s response to glucose and lower blood sugar by 20%! Other research has shown that cinnamon can decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad one) for those with type 2 Diabetes. With the cold weather coming along, why not add a little cinnamon into your smoothies? Cinnamon has a way of warming my heart!
Zinc is a very important mineral for the body – being involved in the function of more than 200 enzymes! As a common deficiency, it is important that we maintain our body’s levels of zinc. A quick way to learn if you are deficient is to crush a zinc tablet to powder and mix it with ¼ cup of water. Slosh/rinse your mouth with this solution (do not swallow!) and spit it out. If you do not experience any taste or a light mineral taste in your mouth, you are probably zinc deficient. If you have a strong, unpleasant taste in your mouth, you are probably not zinc deficient. Check out this link for food sources of zinc: http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Zinc.aspx
Adding a tablespoon of nuts to your weekly routine can improve insulin balance by up to 30%. Research has found that having nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) 5 times per week resulted in delayed onset of type 2 Diabetes. Nuts provide you with the healthy fats, which are protective for the body – so get a little nutty this month!
Exercise has many positive effects on our mood and body. It is one of the best things we can do to prolong our health. Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity – within 3 days of decreased activity, our insulin sensitivity and glucose response drops by a dramatic 30%! Get active today. Just think: do you have more energy after you’ve been sitting on the couch for an hour or after you’ve taken a 15 minute evening stroll? (hint: couch = lethargic feeling, walking = body releases “happy” hormones…try it and let us know!)
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