By WIN Provider: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
There is an increasing prevalence of insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes among Canadians. Over my two decades of practice, I have observed this increase over the years as more patient visits include a review of blood work showing lab tests reflecting poor glucose management.
Those who have a vulnerability to poor glucose management due to family history are a greater risk when combined with these factors:
- Nutritional imbalance
- Poor sleep
- Chronic stress
- Physical inactivity
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that signals to our cells to absorb and utilize glucose after we eat a meal.
Our cells can lose the ability to respond to the insulin signal. When their response diminishes, the pancreas must work harder and secrete more insulin to strengthen, or turn up the volume, on the signal to the cells so they know to absorb glucose from the blood stream.
Those with insulin resistance can begin to experience symptoms such as:
- Increased cholesterol
- Fatty liver
- Weight gain
- Skin changes
- Increased hunger and cravings
- Decreased energy
- Hormonal Imbalances
The exhausted pancreas loses its ability to secrete enough insulin and this leads to prediabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
When the pancreas becomes weak and loses its ability to do its job properly, it does not secrete enough insulin to manage the sugar in our blood stream. This causes to blood sugar to linger in the blood stream, but it is not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Often, an early sign of this in standard blood testing is a normal fasting blood glucose level, but a mildly elevated Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C).
HbA1C as blood marker of risk, and it can start to rise well before lab tests for blood glucose levels are out of normal range. This test is a cue to start doing something about blood sugar balance.
People who are prediabetic start to notice a greater predominance or combination of insulin resistance symptoms listed above.
Blood Sugar’s Slippery Slope
I think of the picture above as early call to action to help the pancreas. This is the start of a slippery slope. It is possible to get blood sugar balance back on track, but it’s a steeper uphill climb when a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is completely preventable early efforts to do so can be life changing.
How To Prevent Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes:
Each of these can help to support healthy blood sugar balance. Combining them on a consistent basis can amplify protective effects and increase the ability to prevent insulin resistance and prediabetes.
- Include daily servings of fiber rich foods – Namely green, non-starchy, non-salad veggies are the best – think broccoli, cauliflower, kale, asparagus, zucchini, cucumbers, celery, collards, swiss chard, cabbage, etc.1
- Include daily services of healthy fats – Culinary oils, avocado, olives, nuts & seeds, nut/seed butter & fish helps us feel satiated and leads to better appetite/craving management and blood sugar balance.2
- Exercise regularly – Not just cardio! A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training, with weights, is essential for a change in blood sugar management.3 For those who are unfamiliar with resistance training, get professional guidance from a health provider or personal trainer who can help you develop an individualized plan.
- Limit processed foods.
- Limit / avoid refined flour and sugar containing foods.
- Reduce stress, slow down, take time for yourself (even if it’s just 5-10 minurtes a day).4
- Sleep – try to get to bed before midnight as often as possible and work on getting a solid sleep. For those who struggle with sleep, visit with a Naturopathic Doctor to discuss ways to optimize sleep.
If you have concerns with blood sugar balance, have a family history of type 2 diabetes or would like more support in implementing the daily practices to prevent blood sugar imbalance, visit with me at WIN altra Health Clinic at our Niagara Falls or Fonthill location. Through comprehensive visits, I can recommend an individualized plan that would be the best fit for you.
- Bahadoran Z, Tohidi M, Nazeri P, Mehran M, Azizi F, Mirmiran P. Effect of broccoli sprouts on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Nov;63(7):767-71. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2012.665043. Epub 2012 Apr 26. PMID: 22537070.
- Fumiaki Imamura, Renata Micha, Jason H. Y. Wu, Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Fadar O. Otite, Ajibola I. Abioye, Dariush Mozaffarian. Effects of Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate on Glucose-Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Feeding Trials. PLOS Medicine, 2016; 13 (7): e1002087 DOI: 1371/journal.pmed.1002087
- Church TS, Blair SN, Cocreham S, Johannsen N, Johnson W, Kramer K, Mikus CR, Myers V, Nauta M, Rodarte RQ, Sparks L, Thompson A, Earnest CP. Effects of aerobic and resistance training on hemoglobin A1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2010 Nov 24;304(20):2253-62. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1710. Erratum in: JAMA. 2011 Mar 2;305(9):892. PMID: 21098771; PMCID: PMC3174102.
- Kamba A, Daimon M, Murakami H, Otaka H, Matsuki K, et al. Association between higher serum cortisol levels and decreased insulin secretion in a general population.PLoS One. 2016 Nov 18;11(11):e0166077. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166077