If the thought of the weather getting warmer, and clothing options getting lighter or more sparse has you dreading the change in temperature, you aren’t alone. Hormones influence not only how much body fat you have, but also where you carry it. If your trouble areas are your love handles, then you can be certain that your insulin levels are too high. Too much insulin not only encourages your body to store unused glucose as fat, but also blocks the use of stored fat as an energy source — a double whammy for any waistline. Implement the following suggestions to reduce your insulin in as little as three days to six months.
1. Have a blueberry smoothie – reduce insulin by 22 percent:
Could eating blueberries help get rid of belly fat? According to a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrition, a daily dose of the bioactive ingredients from blueberries also increases sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in at-risk individuals. Researchers discovered that obese, non-diabetic and insulin-resistant participants who consumed a blueberry smoothie daily for six weeks experienced a 22 percent change in insulin sensitivity, compared to only 4.9 percent in the placebo group.
2. Take 4000IU vitamin D – improve insulin balance in six months:
The sunshine vitamin can help you get a better midriff, not to mention boost your hormones. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed women who were given a daily dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 showed improvements in their insulin resistance after 6 months of supplementation. You may wish to have your blood level of vitamin D3 tested by your doctor at some point; the participants whose vitamin D levels reached 119nmol/L had the biggest improvements. This is not surprising to me – an optimal blood value of 125 nmol/L is ideal for insulin balance and carb sensitivity.
3. Add one tsp cinnamon – improve insulin balance in 20 days:
Just a little cinnamon in your smoothies can go a long way towards balancing your insulin levels. Just a teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20 percent. A research group from the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center found that cinnamon reduced blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in subjects with type-2 diabetes after just 40 days of consuming 1 to 6 grams per day.
4. Have a tablespoon of nuts – improve insulin balance by 30 percent:
A prospective cohort study of women found that the frequency of nut consumption had a substantial and highly significant inverse association with risk of type-2 diabetes. The reduction in risk of developing type-2 diabetes was 30 percent lower in those consuming nuts five or more times per week and 20 percent lower in those consuming nuts 1 to 4 times a week compared to those that almost never ate nuts. I recommend having nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts – simply vary it) as a fat source once daily.
5. Take zinc daily – improve insulin balance in 8 days:
Zinc is involved in more than 200 enzymes in the body – it is also one of the most common mineral deficiencies I find in clinical practice. In fact, according to a study published in American Physiological Society, rats who were fed a zinc deficient diet demonstrated a peripheral resistance to insulin within just eight days of feeding! A quick way to detect a zinc deficiency is to crush a zinc tablet to powder and mix with ¼ cup of water. Slosh the mixture around your mouth but don’t swallow. People who notice no taste at all or who notice a mineral-type taste are likely to be deficient in zinc. Those who notice a strong, unpleasant taste are not likely to be deficient in this mineral. Dosage is 15mg to 25mg a day with food.
6. Get active – improve insulin balance in three days:
Three days of being a coach potato will not only drop your mood and make you feel lethargic; it will have a dramatic effect on insulin sensitivity. One study took a young healthy population that averaged 12,956 steps a day and reduced their activity to 4,319 steps a day (as measured by a pedometer and confirmed with an accelerometer). This simple change resulted in a 30 percent drop in insulin sensitivity and reduced glucose response. It definitely pays to get active daily, and for an even faster transformation, be sure to include 30 minutes of strength training 3 times a week.
7. Snack on tart cherries – improve insulin balance in 90 days:
Researchers have found that tart cherries have significant health benefits in animal models, including reduced belly fat. In the study, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. And their blood showed much lower levels of molecules that indicate the kind of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than their counterparts. As an added bonus, these berries are high in melatonin and can improve your slumber. Add to your smoothies or enjoy a snack with ½ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup tart cherries and a tbsp of nuts mixed together.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.