Insulin is a fat storage hormone, makes us moody, hungry and lethargic when blood sugar crashes. What increases your insulin level and how can I avoid this you ask?
Nutrition! Here’s the skinny… Glucose raises insulin. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are the main culprits. These foods include sweets, desserts, baked goods, too many fruits. As well as over consumption of beer, wine and mixed drinks. Other foods that aren’t obviously sweet but break down to glucose (sugar) in the body include bread, rice, pasta, cereal, chips crackers, granola, and corn. Many people eat way too many carbohydrates like these. Yes they are a party in your mouth and taste good, but the outcomes are not so awesome !! Unless you are swimming eight hours a day like Michael Phelps, forget about it! Please know that these carbs and sugars will store body fat. Reducing carbohydrates and sugars to an appropriate level will help you to reduce fat storage.
Eating more foods that burn fat will help. Ideal foods include vegetables, healthy proteins and healthy fats, like avocado, salmon, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. These foods will help us to keep insulin stable and in turn reduce fat storage.
Inactivity and lack of exercise. We used to push a plow in the field for 12 hours a day 100 years ago. Today we work in cubicles and most people are too tired to be active after a long workday sitting idle at a desk. When we exercise (30 min aerobically 3 times a week), we improve insulin regulation thus reducing fat storage.
Do this twice on the weekends and just once during the week if your work week schedule is a challenge. Strengthening exercises also burn fat and a big bonus if you can add to your aerobic workout. Remember, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet so it’s not the only answer.
Manage Stress. Physiological stress increases something called catecholamines, your fight and flight hormones. Cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) as well as dopamine are released which puts our bodies in fat storage mode. Some things you can do to reduce stress include managing your boundaries, not taking on more than you can handle, not taking on other peoples problems, avoid toxic people and make good decisions about your own personal life choices. On the other hand, life will always have its challenges and you can either react to them at a 10 out of 10 or three out of 10. Become a solution orientated person. Look at life stressors as a challenge instead of a disaster and figure out how to get through them, go around them, go over them etc. Work on solutions rather than complaining about situations.
Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is your body’s repair cycle. If you are not allowing adequate time for repair on your DNA on a nightly basis, you are coming up short with your health and wellness. Lack of sleep affects every system in your entire body. Sleep hygiene is something you should commit to and protect. Here are some sleep hygiene practices to follow: shut off electronic devices 60 minutes before bedtime, routine sleep meditation (free on youtube) is an excellent way to close out your day. Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body makes. As we age, it is common to make less. It is not psychoactive and it is non addicting unlike Xanax, Ambien and over the counter sleep aids (now possibly linked to dementia). Other natural herbs like passion flower, lemon balm and L theanine (amino acid) can also be helpful.
Bottom line – Regulate your insulin as a priority and expect a higher quality of life!!
~Leslie Karr, FNP, BC