Increase Insulin Sensitivity

Increase Insulin Sensitivity

Increase Insulin Sensitivity With Type 2 Diabetes

With the rise in obesity, we can expect to see a subsequent rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. In fact, over the next 25 years this disease is anticipated to increase by over 50%.  Thus, putting emphasis on prevention is a very essential component of health care.

This benefits those already suffering from the condition as the findings for prevention are the same treatment options to manage type 2 diabetes.  Many large scale research trials are investing their time and research funds into identifying methods to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics.

Getting to the root of the development of the condition breeds understanding of how to prevent increased insulin sensitivity.  Having a suppressed sensitivity to insulin means your body requires more insulin to lower blood glucose levels; more insulin results in your pancreas working to produce more which overtime can exhaust the endocrine system.  An individual who has normal insulin response has adequate insulin sensitivity to produce only the necessary amounts to help glucose enter the cells and stabilize blood sugar levels efficiently.

If you have a history of diabetes in your family, have concerns about blood sugars, or for general health purposes it’s wise to ask your health care professional to evaluate your insulin sensitivity.  This means looking beyond fasting blood sugar and HgBA1c.

Beyond the condition of type 2 diabetes, poor insulin sensitivity leaves higher levels of circulating insulin in the blood stream which is associated with damage to blood vessels, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, obesity, osteoporosis and cancer.  Severe medical conditions for which you are hospitalized like sepsis, stress, or other illness, can reduce insulin sensitivity during the time you are ill.  Usually the state of your insulin resistance recovers after you are well.


Some of the variables at the forefront of the literature suggest the following areas to lend improvements to insulin resistance:

  • Exercise
  • Dietary improvements (higher fiber, low glycemic foods, eliminate refined carbohydrates)
  • Weight loss
  • Sleep
  • Stress reduction
  • Ginger
  • Vinegar
  • Alpha-lipoic-acid

I’ll expand on the last three since the previous variables are well-known in their role in type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity.


Researchers have looked at the effects of ginger on insulin levels.  In a randomized double-blind placebo trial 2 grams daily was administered for 60 days (1).  Supplementation at this level lowered insulin levels, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved lipid levels.  While research looks promising, there are a few contraindications including pregnancy, breast-feeding, bleeding disorder, and heart conditions.  As with any form of supplementation it is best to address its use with your healthcare provider before implementing.


This may be a promising therapeutic agent to combat insulin resistance.  Early studies linked vinegar to lessening the glucose and insulin response to a starch load. (3)  More recently a smaller study evaluated both insulin resistance subjects and those with type 2 diabetes after drinking a drink that contained 20g apple cider vinegar drink, water, and artificial sweetener (4).  Data indicated a significant improvement in insulin resistant subjects and a slight improvement in those with diabetes.  Further research is necessary given the limited data.


An antioxidant in food and naturally made in our bodies.  Some suggest it may help in the improvement of insulin resistance. One study conducted in 2006 evaluated a small type 2 diabetic subject size given 600 mg two times per day for four weeks. (5)  With the short-term use of alpha-lipoic-acid significant changes in insulin sensitivity were observed.  Talk to your doctor before considering supplementation interactions with thyroid conditions and drug interactions.

Given that additional research is needed on these three components, emphasis should be placed on the more well-known factors; exercise, dietary improvements, weight loss, sleep and stress reduction.  Mastering improving your insulin sensitivity will enable better management of type 2 diabetes and the dangerous health conditions that can result from the disease.


Mahluji S et al.  Effects of ginger (Zingiberofficinale) on plasma glucose level, HbA1c and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients. Int J Food Sci Nutr. Sep 2013; 64 (6): 682-686.

Heimes, et al.  Impact of the 5-HT3 receptor channel system for insulin secretion and interaction of ginger extracts. European Journal of Pharmacology.  December 2009; 624 (1-3): 58-65.

Ebihara, et al.  Effect of acetic acid and vinegar on blood glucose and insulin responses to orally administered sucrose and starch.  Agric Biol Chem, 1988; 52:1311–1312.

Johnston, et al.  Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes.  Diabetes Care, January 2004; 27 (1): 281-282.

Kamenova, Petya.  Improvement of insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus after oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid.  Hormones, 2006; 5(4): 251-258.

Nicole BarnickNicole Barnick

Nicole is a registered dietician and who aims to teach her clients to nourish their bodies through whole foods. She holds a Bachelor's degree in both nutrition & exercise science as well as a Master's degree from the University of Montana.

Feb 7, 2014
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