6 Ways to Control Insulin Levels

There's a reason people with diabetes check blood sugar levels frequently. It's a simple and easy way to find out if you're managing your condition well, or if you need to take action to prevent complications.

Look at it this way. It's much better to make adjustments to your diet, or take diabetes medications, sooner than later. Ignore the warning signs of high blood sugar levels and elevated insulin levels, and the consequences can lead to permanent damage, or worse.

For many people with type 2 diabetes, normal insulin levels aren't enough to control blood sugar levels. So the pancreas shifts into overdrive, and produces even more insulin. It becomes a vicious cycle that can take a toll on your health, and often medication alone isn't enough to prevent complications. Fortunately, there are other ways to control insulin levels:

  • 1. Eat foods with a low Glycemic Index score

    like bananas, blueberries, steel-cut oats, and avocados. The Glycemic Index scores foods from 1 to 100. The higher the score, the higher the Glycemic Index, which are foods you want to avoid. Check out this list of 60 common foods and how they rank on the Glycemic Index.

  • 2. Avoid sugary foods and drinks

    like barbecue sauce, steak sauce, and soy sauce, with low-sodium versions. Low-sodium salad dressings are available, too.It's really a no brainer. Sugar sodas, a candy bar, ice cream, dessert. These high-sugar foods are digested rapidly, cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and signal the pancreas to produce more insulin. Go for sugar-free options, or fruit if you want something sweet.

  • 3. Limit carbohydrates

    If you're going to eat carbs, go with foods that contain complex carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes. They take longer to digest and help control blood sugar levels. Avoid foods made with refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread, which digest rapidly, increase blood sugar, and ramp up insulin production.

    Research shows that being overweight or obese can cause insulin resistance. That means your pancreas has to produce more and more insulin to try and control blood sugar levels. Losing weight can reverse this problem. If you've got a few pounds to lose, set a goal to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week by improving your diet and exercise habits. And if you're already a healthy weight, keep it that way.

  • 5. Be active.

    Aim to exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day. Try walking, jogging, cycling, or going to the gym. You'll burn excess calories to help you manage your weight. Research shows exercise can also help build muscle mass, and improve insulin sensitivity.

  • 6. Manage stress in healthy ways.

    Too much stress can trigger your pancreas to produce more insulin to generate energy from carbohydrates. Taking action to manage stress in healthy ways can make a difference. Aim to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Try deep breathing or meditation exercises. Even keeping a journal can help you relax and stress less.

Go back and check out tips 1 thru 4, and you'll find they all have something in common...food. Your diet can have a big impact on managing diabetes, if you eat the right foods. And it's not that hard if you eat foods made from fresh ingredients. Cook at home, or check out our Diabetic-Friendly menu.