Today’s Friday Five is all about increasing Insulin Sensitivity – that is how efficiently your body uses carbohydrates for fuel, rather than storing them as fat. Improving Insulin Sensitivity (the opposite of Insulin Resistance, which is the precursor to Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and now the research is pointing to cognitive disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers), is the foundation of my work with my clients wishing to lose body fat. Insulin resistance also causes inflammation, the root cause of all disease in the body.
However increasing our Insulin Sensitivity should be a goal for everybody, as it results in higher energy levels, a stronger body, increased muscle mass, lower body fat and improved mental cognition and clarity.
Here are my top five ways to improve your Insulin Sensitivity:
1) Sip on Cinnamon Tea: clinical studies have proven cinnamon to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, helping shuttle carbohydrates into the muscle cell instead of storing them as fat. It is so powerful it is even being looked into as replacement for medication in Type 2 Diabetics! Sprinkle cinnamon on your food, or sip on Cinnamon Tea throughout the day by simply steeping a cinnamon stick in hot water.
2) Walk: you have heard me wax lyrical about the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day, but consider a 20 minute walk after your evening meal, or a meal containing a higher amount of carbohydrates. This is a powerful tool in ensuring what you have eaten converts to fuel, rather than fat in the body, and helps to aid digestion.
3) Choose your fats wisely: it may seem odd to bring fats into a conversation about carbs, but ensuring you are eliminating inflammatory fats such as trans fats and processed vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, corn and cottonseed), and consuming a good balance of Omega 3 to 6 fats ensures your cell walls (which are made of fat) are soft and pliable, and therefore able to ‘take in’ the glucose in from the bloodstream for use as fuel. When inflammation is present in the body the cell wall and membrane becomes more resistant to the insulin and glucose.
4) Up your magnesium intake: in my opinion magnesium is a miracle mineral, and is essential for over 300 metabolic processes in the body. It is also one of the minerals we are all deficient in, due to our over-farmed soil, diets low in magnesium rich foods (such as shellfish) and because it is used in the processes that mitigate stress in the body. It can increase insulin sensitivity by exerting a positive effect on the insulin receptors in the body. I like to supplement with both an oral and topical magnesium, and ensure my diet is full of magnesium rich foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, almonds and dark chocolate (yum)!
I highly recommend Uber Mag PX and Topical Magnesium from the Poliquin Group, and use these two supplements daily without fail:
5) Change the structure of your carbs: the benefits of cooking and then cooling carbohydrate rich foods is twofold: by doing this increase the amount of resistant starch, which is digested differently by the enzymes in our gut. This means that food has a much lower effect on our insulin levels, and provides food for our gut bacteria, ensuring a healthy microbiome. Rice, potatoes, green bananas and oats are all great everyday sources of resistant starch.