Authored by: Eric Venn-Watson, MD
No one likes getting “the conversation” from their healthcare provider, but if you aren’t managing your diet and exercise very well, chances are, it’s going to happen.
Hearing your doc say you should trim a little off your waistline or exercise more may seem like a non-threatening suggestion you can easily brush off. However, if you don’t heed your doctor’s orders, you could put yourself at risk for a condition known as insulin resistance.
You can make dietary and lifestyle changes to help prevent becoming insulin resistant in the first place and reverse its effects if you’ve already been diagnosed.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that your body naturally makes. Insulin is what regulates the glucose, or sugar, in your blood. Insulin is produced by your pancreas. After you eat a meal, glucose enters your bloodstream from carbohydrates that have been broken down. Insulin is what helps glucose get to your body’s cells to give you energy.
If there is extra glucose in your blood after you eat, it gets stored in your liver. When your insulin levels dip a few hours after your meal, your liver releases the glucose back into your bloodstream to be used as energy.
In a person who is healthy, this is how the process works and keeps you energized.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition in which a person’s body has built up a tolerance to insulin, making it much less effective.
People with insulin resistance syndrome, also known as metabolic syndrome, require more insulin to deliver glucose from the blood to fat and muscle cells to be used as energy. They also need more insulin to persuade the liver to store excess glucose.
While insulin resistance doesn’t mean a person has type 2 diabetes or even prediabetes, it is characteristic of people who develop these conditions.
Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
“I feel fine,” you may say to yourself, but insulin resistance often comes with no feelings of sickness or general malaise. Only having a fasting glucose blood test can show whether you have risk factors for insulin resistance, or even prediabetes. As such, it’s incredibly important to get regular check-ups with your healthcare provider.
The hallmarks of insulin resistance syndrome include the following:
You may have some or all of the above if you are insulin resistant.
Risk Factors for Developing Insulin Resistance
Your lifestyle, diet, and exercise routines play a major role in keeping you healthy and reducing your risk for developing insulin resistance. Simply taking better care of yourself can drastically reduce your likelihood of developing insulin resistance.
People with some or all of the following factors have a higher risk of developing insulin resistance.
4 Tricks To Reverse Insulin Resistance
Thankfully, by making some lifestyle changes and adjusting your diet and supplement intake, you can begin to reverse your insulin resistance, or prevent yourself from becoming insulin resistant.
Here are 4 tricks you can start today to reverse your insulin resistance.
Eating better isn’t just about losing weight. Your body needs certain nutrients and vitamins to work properly. Many of the prepackaged, processed foods we eat are void of nutrients and have instead been filled with trans-fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugar.
Eating a diet richer in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, brown rice) and seeking out plant-based foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables is a great way to improve your diet, increase your overall health, and even help keep you fuller longer.
Exercise is a crucial part of reversing insulin resistance. Moving for just 30 minutes per day can dramatically improve your overall health. In fact, even low impact exercise, like walking, has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your weight matters in terms of your overall health. If you carry excess weight, especially around your waistline, you’re at a much higher risk of developing insulin resistance. By maintaining a healthier diet and exercising, you can also begin to shed extra pounds.
Increase Your Intake of Pentadecanoic Acid (aka C15:0)
Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0, is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid that a growing body of research supports is as beneficial in maintaining healthy metabolism.
Afraid you should avoid it because it’s a “saturated” fat? We understand, but science says not all saturated fats are bad. While even-chain saturated fatty acids are linked to negative health markers, odd-chain saturated fatty acids like C15:0 have been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and insulin resistance syndrome (also called metabolic syndrome).
C15:0 naturally binds to receptors in your body, called PPARs, that orchestrate your metabolism and immunity. By doing so, C15:0 promotes your overall metabolic health, which can help you maintain healthy blood glucose levels, more balanced cholesterol, and better liver function. Studies have shown that daily supplementation with C15:0 can lower glucose and cholesterol in relevant models of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome.
C15:0 also works by supporting your metabolic health on the cellular level. In addition to activating your metabolism-regulating receptors, this fatty acid helps improve your cell’s mitochondrial function, which equates to more overall energy. It also bolsters your cells’ resilience and functionality. As you age, your cells become more fragile and easily damaged. C15:0 gives them support.
What Foods Contain C15:0?
Our primary source of C15:0 is whole dairy products like full fat milk and butter. It is estimated that we need between 100 to 300 mg of C15:0 a day. Because many of us have moved away from whole fat dairy products, you may not have much in your diet. As an alternative to milk fat, people can also get their daily C15:0 from once daily vegan supplements.
In summary, activities that may help to reverse or prevent insulin resistance, including a healthier diet, 30 minutes of exercise a day, and eating foods or supplements with C15:0 can also improve your general health. Let’s get back to healthy.
STEPHANIE VENN-WATSON, dvm, mph
Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson is a veterinary epidemiologist dedicated to improving both human and animal health. Before co-founding Seraphina Therapeutics and Epitracker, Inc,. she worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Venn-Watson has over 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is an inventor on 40+ patents. Her dedication to discovering natural compounds to improve global health has been featured in/on Forbes, NPR Science Friday, PBS, National Geographic, BBC, and more.
ERIC VENN-WATSON, MD
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson is a physician, US Navy veteran and serial entrepreneur. Prior to Seraphina Therapeutics, Eric founded multiple companies in therapeutics discovery, healthcare analytics, and medical device industries as well as working in leadership roles in several life science companies.