10 Ways to Improve Your Metabolic Health, From a PhD in Nutrition

Excess adiposity, insulin resistance and leptin resistance are a trio to avoid (or improve). Obesity reduces insulin sensitivity12 overtime. This insulin resistance makes us less metabolically flexible, making it difficult to burn fat and calories. And insulin resistance fuels leptin resistance, further exacerbating fat metabolism and regulation.

Family physician Bindiya Gandhi, MD, has previously explained that in working with clients struggling with leptin resistance, “there is a very important factor that is often missing in the conversation about weight management and metabolism. healthy and sustainable. Enter: hormones, namely leptin. »

Leptin is a adipokine13 hormone produced by our fat cells, and is directly linked to levels of adiposity. When working properly, leptin tells our brains that we are full and that enough fat has been stored. Wonky leptin means metabolic disaster. Some key contributors to leptin resistance are long-term stress and insulin resistance.

Cardiometabolic health expert Cate Shanahan, MD says, “If you want to do one thing in 2023 to optimize your metabolism, I’d start by doing a blood test called HOMA-IR.” An equation that uses fasting blood sugar and insulin lab results, HOMA-IR is a way to estimate insulin resistance.

The fact is that many adults and young people in our country have poor blood sugar control (i.e., glycemic balance) due to suboptimal insulin sensitivity. Cowan shares an incredibly practical and powerful tip for moving the needle on insulin resistance: “Perhaps the simplest and most effective strategy for improving metabolic health is to move your body after every meal. Even a 10-15 minute walk after meals can significantly increase muscle glucose clearance.

Cowan explains the mechanism: “Insulin resistance reduces the muscle’s ability to absorb glucose from the circulation after carbohydrate-containing meals. High blood sugar levels lead to fatigue and brain fog and inflammatory and microvascular issues over time. That’s where exercise comes in, she says. “Exercise is vital for reversing insulin resistance and improving glucose clearance. Muscle contraction directly stimulates glucose uptake independently of insulin. A walk after meals provides muscle contraction sufficient to remove a significant amount of extra glucose from the bloodstream.

This is why a particularly recent technology excites Cowan: continuous glucometers (CGM). She shared that this innovation is “becoming available to the general public at a reasonable cost and with access to user-friendly application interfaces.” (If you’re looking for a product recommendation, a great example of CGM would be Levels.)

“CGMs allow individuals to access critical information about their body’s unique response to different foods and meals, sleep quality, stress, and movement. Wearing a monitor for a few weeks can provide enough actionable information to design a personalized diet and lifestyle protocol for an individual and give them quick and lasting results.In addition, CGM allows individuals to correlate changes in their blood sugar levels with their felt experiences in their bodies.

When it comes to promoting insulin sensitivity, plus a plant- and fiber-rich diet and exercise, I can’t forget to shout out my favorite nutrient, vitamin D! A growing body of clinical research links vitamin D sufficiency to cardiometabolic health benefits by supporting healthy glucose and insulin levels.

The point is, any improvement on the glucose and insulin front is critical. “Optimizing glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity is a game-changer for longevity and protection against serious chronic diseases, including those in the cardiovascular, cognitive, and metabolic domains,” Cowan concludes.

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