If you are one of the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, your best chance to avoid developing type 2 diabetes is to boost your body’s insulin sensitivity. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes happen when the body becomes unable to make enough insulin to deal with insulin resistance. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are really the same disorder. Type 2 diabetes simply indicates a greater loss of insulin making ability.
Among other things, losing weight, being physically active, and eating well can improve the way your body uses insulin. Here are 5 diet tips to reverse insulin resistance and help you prevent or at least delay type 2 diabetes.
Trim portions. Decreasing calorie intake usually leads to weight loss, which boosts insulin sensitivity. Simply preventing weight gain (except for people who are underweight) is a boon to health. Trade in your large plate for a small one and big portions for trimmer sizes.
Enjoy oats and barley. These two super grains have a health-boosting fiber called beta-glucan. One of its effects is to improve insulin sensitivity. Now and then swap out other grains for barley. Try it for breakfast too. Cook it in water spiked with sweet spices like cinnamon and clove, then top it with fruit and yogurt.
Add resistant starch. A type of fiber, resistant starch resists digestion and travels to the colon where it feeds the healthful bacteria. In the process, these good-for-you bacteria produce compounds that boost the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Some examples of foods with resistant starches are these:
- Uncooked oats (sprinkle muesli on yogurt and cottage cheese)
- Under-ripe bananas
- Beans and lentils
- Cold potatoes, pasta, and rice
Toast to your health, in moderation. Small amounts of wine and other alcohols boost insulin sensitivity. Don’t overdo it though: no more than one drink daily for women and two for men.
Trade unhealthful saturated fats for the healthful unsaturated kind. Skip the butter, bacon grease, lard, and coconut oil with all of their health-damaging saturated fats. Instead use heart-healthy and insulin-sensitizing liquid oils. Regularly include some nuts, seeds and fatty fish in your diet too.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND
And here's a PDF handout, just for you!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.