Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets; it is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of, especially glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells. In these tissues the absorbed glucose is converted into either glycogen via glycogenesis or fats (triglycerides) via lipogenesis, or, in the case of the liver, into both. Glucose production and secretion by the liver is strongly inhibited by high concentrations of insulin in the blood. Circulating insulin also affects the synthesis of proteins in a wide variety of tissues. It is therefore an anabolic hormone, promoting the conversion of small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cells. Low insulin levels in the blood have the opposite effect by promoting widespread catabolism, especially of reserve body fat.
12 Superfoods Thats Boost Insulin Response
Boosting your body’s ability to respond to insulin is your secret weapon for a flatter stomach (and better health).
In a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010, researchers discovered that obese, insulin-resistant participants who consumed a blueberry smoothie every day for 6 weeks experienced a 22-percent improvement in insulin sensitivity, compared to only 4.9 percent in the placebo group. Plus, blueberries are low in sugar, high in belly-filling fiber, and packed with anti-aging antioxidants that benefit skin, cognitive function, and heart health.
Slimming Suggestion: The next time you’re in need of a quick breakfast, give this blueberry-orange smoothie recipe a try.
2. Whey protein
Protein is essential for maintaining healthy body composition, blood sugar balance, and muscle growth. Whey protein in particular may also help reduce your food intake: A University of Toronto study found that eating whey protein before a meal provided satiety signals that prevented a group of healthy young adults from overeating.
High in monounsaturated fats, avocados got an undue bad rap during the recent low-fat era. Yet studies show that people sustain their nutrition program longer and see greater weight loss on a higher-fat diet that’s composed of about 30 percent heart-healthy fats (such as those found in avocados), compared to a low-fat diet. The reason: Fats can help to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which leads to less insulin release. Avocados also contain a unique weight-loss friendly carbohydrate called mannoheptulose that research links to lower insulin secretions.
4. Chia seeds
On a per-gram basis, chia seed is touted to be the highest source of omega-3s in nature, with 65 percent of its total fat from omega-3 fatty acids. The ancient gluten-free grain is also a substantial source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Research shows that chia stabilizes blood sugar, manages the effects of diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity, and aids symptoms related to metabolic syndrome, including imbalances in cholesterol, blood pressure, and high blood sugar after meals
A must-have in your smoothie-making arsenal, flaxseed is a nutrient powerhouse rich in thiamin, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Its high fiber content also helps lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and aid weight loss. What’s more, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaxseed to your smoothies, oatmeal, salads, or cereals can also reduce your cancer risk and provide you with a healthy hit of “good fats.” The oils in flaxseed can go rancid quickly, though, so be sure to purchase ground flaxseed in a vacuum-sealed package and store it in the freezer. Or better yet, grind your own daily.
Your favorite spice mix not only boosts the flavor of your meals, but may also shrink your stomach. Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that a food-seasoning spice mixture significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels and improved blood-cholesterol balance in rats. And another study in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences found that fenugreek seeds, garlic, onion, and turmeric can lower blood sugar and reduce insulin..
7. Olive oil
Monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados encourage the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin, and olive oil in particular has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. In a 2007 study published in the journal Diabetes Care, 11 subjects with insulin resistance and excess abdominal fat tried three different diets for 28 days each: a diet high in saturated fat, a high-carb diet, and a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, including olive oil. Of the three diets, the one rich in olive oil had the best outcome, preventing not only belly-fat accumulation, but also insulin resistance.
Just a pinch of ceylon cinnamon on top of your yogurt can go a long way toward balancing insulin levels. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon can cause muscle and liver cells to respond more readily to insulin, thereby improving weight loss. Just 1/2 teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20 percent.
It turns out that our grandparents had it right–eggs for breakfast, regardless of how you prepare them, improve appetite control and boost energy levels. In a 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight and obese subjects given two eggs a day for breakfast lost 65 percent more weight than those eating a similar breakfast without eggs. The researchers concluded that eating eggs might control hunger by reducing the post-meal insulin response and control appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both blood sugar and insulin levels.
Cherries are a wonder food, and not just because they taste great and can satisfy your urge for something sweet with just a few calories. Scientists have identified a group of naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins–abundant in cherries and other red fruits–that may help to lower blood sugar levels. In early studies published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, anthocyanins were found to reduce insulin production by 50 percent. Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants, which may protect against heart disease and cancer.
Your salad dressing may play a role in lowering post-meal glucose levels. According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vinegar can blunt blood sugar and insulin increases, and increase the sensation of fullness after a high-carb meal. The researchers found that the acetic acid that gives vinegar its tart taste improves post-meal insulin sensitivity, even in those who are currently insulin resistant. Just watch out for balsamic vinegar, which contains more sugar than other varieties.
12. Nuts and nut butters
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which reduce insulin resistance and improve cholesterol levels. They’re also rich in plant protein and dietary fiber, two macronutrients that help keep you full and curb cravings. Another reason to go, well, nuts: Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that women who consumed nuts or peanut butter five times a week or more lowered their risk for type 2 diabetes by nearly 30 percent compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts or peanut butter.
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