So you’re suffering with symptoms like stubborn extra weight, hot flashes, thyroid problems, and high cholesterol. The problem may actually be insulin resistance.
Insulin is actually a hormone responsible for managing how your body uses the glucose from the food you eat. After a meal your glucose rises. Insulin is released to store the glucose you don’t need to use immediately. When insulin is not balanced, the result is abnormal blood sugar levels. High insulin levels can make you feel tired, bloated and cause sugar cravings. The more insulin you have circulating in your body the harder it becomes to lose weight.
Insulin resistance occurs when you eat meals made up of mostly refined sugar and grains (think doughnuts, cookies, white rice, white bread, etc) – foods containing very little fiber and consist of sugars that quickly enter the bloodstream as glucose. The body has to release high levels of insulin to keep all that glucose in the bloodstream from remaining there.
Over time, the cells simply can’t keep up. They stop responding to the insulin signal and become “insulin resistant.” As a result the body is forced to release even more insulin to try and clear out the flood of glucose.
Having excess insulin in the bloodstream, or hyperinsulinemia, is a serious problem because the body can’t tolerate prolonged high levels of insulin. As we age, this continual exposure wears out our tolerance for refined carbohydrates and reduces our sensitivity to insulin. The result is chronic inflammation which may eventually lead to diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, breast cancer, and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).
Women near menopause are particularly prone to insulin resistance due to metabolic changes related to faltering adrenal and thyroid hormone performance. When levels of hormones such as estradiol dip it may actually trigger insulin resistance in women who never experienced weight gain, bloating, and higher cholesterol and other lipid levels before.
We want our bodies to be insulin sensitive. How do we become more sensitive to insulin and control glucose metabolism in a balanced way? Diet and lifestyle changes can change this unhealthy picture pretty quickly.
- eat foods with a low glycemic impact like vegetables, a moderate amount of fruit especially lower sugar fruits like berries, green apples, pears, avocados, and coconuts.
- watch your portion sizes. Don’t overwhelm your digestive system with large amounts of food to digest all at once.
- include small amounts of healthy plant fats in meals to help slow the absorption of glucose – olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, seeds and nuts and their butters.
- regular exercise can help regulate metabolic function and support hormonal balance.
- make sure your meals and snacks have some protein and lots of fiber which both help your body with insulin sensitivity.
- unrefined grains like quinoa, rolled oats, millet, wild rice, and amaranth are high in fiber and can be part of a plan to increase insulin sensitivity. I work with my clients to decide how much their body can tolerate without throwing off their metabolic balance.
I’m always thinking about how women in business, healthcare, education, finance – everywhere women are working hard, speaking up to change things for the better, leading and showing the generations behind them how to lead. I want to make sure we are all at the top of our game with our balanced bodies and sharp minds. What we eat from one meal to the next has everything to do with how well we feel, our energy level, and our ability to avoid getting sick. Let’s go girls!