The Carb Sensitivity Program Top 13 Insulin-Sensitizing Super-foods


The Carb Sensitivity Program Top 13 Insulin-Sensitizing Super-foods

Patients always used to ask me if there was a magic supplement they could take to look younger, shed body fat, boost energy or improve their skin. Most are shocked to learn that the answer is food!  The right foods, at the right times and in the right quantities can have a dramatic effect on your appearance and overall health. Following is a list of 13 functional foods that actually help to improve insulin sensitivity and balance blood sugars, which makes them ideal components of the Carb Sensitivity Program

Blueberries: Blueberrries are low in naturally occurring sugars, and contain a potent dose of proanthocyanidins beneficial for skin, cognitive function and cardiovascular health. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition(2010), 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. These results put blueberries at the top of our insulin super-food list. 

Whey protein isolate: Protein is essential for immunity, maintaining healthy body composition, blood sugar balance, tissue repair and muscle growth. Adding just a bit of whey protein to your meal will also reduce your food intake. According to research from the University of Toronto, published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, whey protein can contribute to the regulation of body weight by providing satiety signals that affect both short-term and long-term food intake regulation. Whey protein is considered to be one of the best sources of the branched chain amino acids, especially leucine, which is unique in its ability to initiate muscle protein synthesis. Learn 12 more benefits of whey here. Make sure your whey is hormone free, like Dream Protein

Avocados: Avocados contain glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants and disease fighting agents available. Studies show that people sustain their nutrition program longer and see greater weight loss on a diet that contains about 30 percent healthy monounsaturated fat, like that found in avocados, rather than a strictly low-fat diet. This is because fats, when eaten in the proper balance with carbohydrates, can help to slow the release of sugars into the blood stream, thereby reducing the production of insulin. Avocados also contain a unique weight-loss-friendly carbohydrate called mannoheptulose, which has been specifically found to lower insulin secretions. 

Chia seeds: This ancient gluten-free grain can be added to just about any food. On a per gram basis, chia is touted to be the highest source of omega-3s in nature, with 65 percent of its total fat from omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a substantial source of fiber, as well as magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron and calcium. 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. It is highly anti-inflammatory and reduces high sensitivity C-reactive protein, a blood marker of inflammation. This wondrous little grain also contains tryptophan, the amino acid precursor of serotonin and melatonin.  Add one to two tablespoons to your meals, salads or smoothies daily. 

Flaxseed:  Flaxseed, a must-have in your smoothie-making arsenal, is rich in thiamin, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Their high fiber content helps lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels and aid weight loss. Flaxseed is also full of lignans—phytoestrogeniccompounds that have been proven to help protect us against certain kinds of cancers, especially of the breast, prostateand colon. Adding two to three tablespoons of flaxseed to your smoothies, oatmeal, salads or cereals daily can reduce your cancer risk and also provide a healthy hit of fiber and essential fatty acids. The oils in flaxseed can go rancid quickly, so be sure to purchase ground flaxseed in a vacuum-sealed package and store it in the freezer. Better yet, you can grind your own daily. 

Fiber: A discussion of the top insulin sensitizing super-foods lurking in your kitchen wouldn’t be complete without mentioning fiber. According to a recent study by National Institutes of Health, subjects who consumed an adequate amount of fiber in their daily diet had significant reductions in the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, with the greatest benefit seen among those who consumed the largest amount of fiber.  In fact, researchers of this 390,000-person study found that a high-fiber diet reduced the risk of death from any cause over the nine-year period the data was collected. Despite these benefits, the average North American only take in 16 grams of total fiber a day, while Europeans consume 22 grams daily. With recommendations for daily fiber intake being 25-35 grams per day for women and 35-40 grams for men, we are falling drastically short!

Another study published in Diabetes Care(2003) examined the link between dietary fiber intake and insulin resistance, insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in a population at high risk for Type 2 diabetes. Researchers here found that the dietary intake of total as well as insoluble and soluble fiber was inversely associated with insulin resistance, thereby putting fiber on our top 12 list for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.

I recommend adding a non-psyllium fiber supplement (this is hypoallergenic and will not bloat) such as Clear Fiber to your smoothies or a large glass of water daily.  This supplement will provide eight grams of fiber, while two tablespoons of chia or flax seed will provide only four. Go for both a supplement like Clear Fiber and chia/flax. 

Spices: It turns out that your favorite spice mix not only helps your food taste great, it can also reduce your waistline. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food(2005), a food seasoning spice mixture improves glucose and cholesterol metabolism in rats fed a high fructose diet to increase their insulin levels. Treatment with these spices significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels and improved their blood cholesterol balance. Additional research published in the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences (2010) confirmed the anti-diabetic effect of various spices. In particular, fenugreek seeds, garlic, onion and turmeric have been experimentally documented to possess anti-diabetic potential by either lowering blood sugar or reducing insulin. In a limited number of studies, cumin seeds, ginger, mustard, curry leaves and coriander have been reported to help lower blood sugar, which is always great for lowering insulin too. 

Olive oil: Olives and olive oil are rich in antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-coagulant benefits. Olive oil also provides a rich source of plant sterols to curb inflammation, aid hormonal balance and control cholesterol. But the weight loss benefits of olive oil could be most exciting for some. When we include them in our daily diet, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil (and avocados) encourage the release of our appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. Olive oil, in particular, has been shown to improve our sensitivity to insulin. In a study published in Diabetes Care, 11 subjects with insulin resistance and increased abdominal fat used three different diets for 28 days. Each diet had equal calories but different compositions: one was a high-saturated-fat diet, the second was high in carbohydrates and the third was rich in monounsaturated fats. At the end of the 28-day period, researchers measured the effects of each diet on body-fat distribution, insulin resistance and levels of adiponectin, a hormone released by our fat cells and known to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and offer us protection against obesity and metabolic syndrome. Of the three diets, the one rich in olive oil showed the best outcome, preventing not only belly fat accumulation but also insulin resistance and the drop in adiponectin typically seen in people who eat a high-carbohydrate diet.

Olive oil not only helps you lose the weight, it helps to keep it off. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, weight maintenance was best with the olive-oil-rich diet, especially when this fat was consumed at breakfast. Improved fasting insulin, blood sugar balance (after meals), good HDL cholesterol and other signs of insulin balance were noted in the 12 insulin-resistant subjects who took part in the study. 

Cinnamon: Just a little cinnamon in your smoothies or topping your oatmeal can go a long way towards balancing your insulin levels. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon may cause muscle and liver cells to respond more readily to insulin, thereby improving weight loss. Better response to insulin means better blood sugar balance and, therefore, less insulin in your body. Cinnamon also seems to reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. Just a half-teaspoon a day for 20 days is enough to improve your insulin response and lower blood sugar by up to 20 percent. An additional research group from the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center found that cinnamon reduced blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in subjects with Type 2 diabetes after just 40 days of consuming one to six grams per day. For metabolic impact, often times the best place to receive your cinnamon is in a supplement like Clear Metabolic Support, which is formulated specifically for insulin balance and metabolic repair. If you are concerned with blood sugar balance, type 2 diabetes or have any type of metabolic imbalance like high cholesterol, this could be a helpful supplement to have in your daily arsenal. You can monitor blood values to see its impact on your health. 

Eggs: In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found that participants who consumed eggs for breakfast had greater feelings of satiety and consumed significantly less calories, for lunch. In fact, calorie intake following the egg breakfast remained lower for the entire day, as well as for the next 36 hours.  In a second 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 may control hunger by reducing the post-meal insulin response and control appetite by preventing large fluctuations in both glucose and insulin levels.

Cherries: Cherries are the new wonder-food, and not just because they taste great and can satisfy your urge for something sweet. This fruit contains red-pigmented antioxidants, is high in soluble fiber and low in calories, which can help improve insulin sensitivity. Scientists have identified a group of naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, abundant in cherries and other red fruits, that could help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 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. This research is promising for both the prevention of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes and for helping control glucose levels in those who already have diabetes. 

Vinegar: Research has found that your salad dressing may play a role in your glucose levels following your meal. According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition vinegar has been found to blunt blood sugar and insulin increases and increase the sensation of fullness after a higher carbohydrate meal. The study, conducted at the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University, found that each of the groups showed improved glucose and insulin profiles following meals that started with a vinegar drink.  In subjects with Type 2 diabetes who drank vinegar, glucose concentrations were cut by about 25 percent compared to those who consumed a placebo. In subjects with pre-diabetic conditions who drank vinegar, glucose concentrations were cut by nearly half compared to pre-diabetics who drank a placebo. And here’s the most surprising result: Pre-diabetic subjects who drank vinegar actually had lower glucose levels than subjects with normal insulin sensitivity who also drank vinegar. The acetic acid that gives vinegar its tart taste improves post-meal insulin sensitivity, even in those who are currently insulin resistant. From white vinegar to apple cider, it’s worth it to develop a taste for vinegar’s sour bite.  Just watch out for balsamic vinegar, which contains more sugar. 

Nuts and Nut Butters: Not only are they tasty, but nuts are also very high in “good fats,” including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which reduce insulin resistance and improve cholesterol levels.  Nuts are also rich in antioxidant vitamins, minerals, plant protein and dietary fiber. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that women who consumed nuts or peanut butter five times a week or more, significantly lowered their risk for Type 2 diabetes compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts or peanut butter. In fact, the nut lovers reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost 30 percent compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts. If you reach for nut butters, be sure to reach for natural, sugar free types and that you don’t have any food allergies or intolerances to that particular nut. 

You may recall my detox shake from The Supercharged Hormone Diet, which contains Dream ProteinClear Fiber, cinnamon, ice (optional) and almond butter – four of the 13 insulin superfoods! Simply mix 1 tbsp almond butter, desired amount of cinnamon, water and ice, one serving each of Dream Protein and Clear Fiber and blend. 

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