Diabetes: 9 foods that ‘improve’ insulin sensitivity

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Around five million people in the UK are currently living with diabetes, with 13 million more at risk of the condition. You can either have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Both result in the level of sugar – or glucose – in your blood becoming too high.

Type 1 patients experience this when your body cannot produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which controls blood glucose.

Type 2 diabetes, however, is much more common and the raised blood sugar levels are usually caused by being overweight or not exercising enough.

Although there is no cure for diabetes, there are ways to manage your blood sugar levels.

According to one expert, certain foods could help with this.

Doctor Casey Means, chief medical officer and co-founder of metabolic health company Levels, shared the best diet for type 2 diabetes patients.

She said: “As type 2 diabetes is a condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, it means your blood glucose levels keep rising.

“Here are some crucial micronutrients which help stabilise insulin levels, as well as the recommended foods rich in these nutrients which help prevent or ease symptoms of type 2 diabetes.”

Doctor Means recommended eating foods high in the mineral magnesium.

These include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Soy milk
  • Black beans
  • Edamame.

She explained: “Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity and glucose processing, and may reduce inflammation.

“A meta-analysis that included six studies and nearly 25,000 people found a significant relationship between metabolic syndrome and magnesium deficiency.

“The researchers determined that for every daily increase of 100mg of magnesium per day, a person’s overall risk of having metabolic syndrome decreased by 17 percent.

“Magnesium is the second-most-abundant positively charged ion in our cells, so there are several proposed ways that it affects glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.”

Her claims are backed by scientific studies.

One paper, published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences in 2020, found that magnesium supplements “enhance” insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance in diabetic rats.

It concludes: “Magnesium supplementation has a positive effect on insulin receptor activity and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.”

And another study published in Diabetes Care says: “Oral supplementation with magnesium chloride solution restores serum magnesium levels, improving insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic patients with decreased serum magnesium levels.”

The research she references was reported in the Diabetic Medicine journal in 2014.

“Findings from the present meta-analysis suggest that dietary magnesium intake is inversely associated with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome,” it says.

Common symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Passing urine more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your genitals, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

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