Enter your email to get updates, tips and exercises to help you experience healing and transformation.

Natural Approaches to Reduce Insulin Resistance

You can reduce insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, or syndrome X symptoms the right diet, exercise and supplements.

Insulin Resistance, Syndrome X and Diabetes

Insulin resistance is defined as the point at which the normal amount of insulin no longer gets the sugar into the cells (the cells have become resistant to insulin).  

Obesity and physical inactivity contribute to insulin resistance, therefore losing weight and getting more exercise will reduce insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance often goes hand in hand with high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol) which increases the risk of heart disease.  

There are no symptoms of insulin resistance, however, if you have high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and or type II diabetes, you may be insulin resistant.

If your fasting blood sugar (after an overnight fast) is between 100-125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), you are pre-diabetic.  Or if you have a blood sugar level of between 140-199mg/kL after a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test, you are pre-diabetic.  Do not depend on your doc to tell you that you are pre-diabetic; some will, some won't.  Know your numbers, and know what they mean.  Take responsibility for your own health, after all, you are the one who has to live with it.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is insulin resistance combined with high blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides), high blood pressure and obesity (defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI)over 30 for women.  To calculate your own BMI, use this calculator

Metabolic Syndrome is a very common disorder, and is often overlooked by doctors.  This is an early clue that you are headed for diabetes, as well as having an increased risk for heart disease.  

If you don't know much about diabetes, you need to educate yourself – it is a nasty disease, and knowing more about it will motivate you to avoid it.  With type II diabetes, your cells don't get the energy they need, and your blood has continuous amounts of high sugar.  Type II diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, blindness, nerve and kidney damage. 

According to some, Metabolic Syndrome is a nutritional disorder, caused by eating too many refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, fruit juices, sweets)  You can reduce insulin resistance with diet, exercise and supplements.

Eating a lot of carbohydrates can elevate cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin.

High insulin may promote obesity and high blood pressure.

Factors that will increase insulin levels</strong>, from Diana Schwarbein, M.D., in The Schwarzbein Principle (page82)

  • A diet low in proteins and good fats, but high in carbohydrates
  • All over the counter and prescription drugs
  • Excessive or unnecessary thyroid replacement therapy
  • Stress, lack of exercise, dieting
  • Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine
  • Aspartame, steroids, stimulants

Diet and Supplements to reduce insulin resistance

A Diet for Metabolic Syndrome

“A high fat diet that includes coconut oil helps regulate blood sugar levels.” say Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon in Eat Fat, Lose Fat.  They go on to say, “Since trans fats interfere with insulin receptors in the cells, replacing trans fats with coconut oil and other healthy fats is the number one measure for preventing and reversing the insulin resistance so characteristic of type II diabetes.”  

You also need plenty of vitamin D.  Vitamin D helps reduce insulin resistance.  Only D3 (cholecalciferol) should be used for supplementation.  See the Vitamin D Council website for extensive information on Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Most antioxidants are either fat-soluble or water-soluble, but not both.  Alpha lipoic acid is one that functions in both environments.  Alpha lipoic acid or lipoic acid, an antioxidant that also lowers glucose levels, insulin levels.  It will also reduce insulin resistance while improving insulin sensitivity.  Found in spinach, broccoli, beef.  It burns sugar in your body, turning it into energy.  If you don't have enough ALA, you will have low energy.  50 to 100mg per day is sufficient to prevent Metabolic Syndrome.  If you already have glucose intolerance or Syndrome X you will need between 100 and 300mg per day.

Vitamin E can reduce glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.  It's also a fat-soluble antioxidant, so it neutralizes free radicals.  400IU will help protect against Metabolic Syndrome.  If you already have Syndrome X, 400-800IU will be helpful.  Do not use the synthetic form (dl-alpha-tocopherol).  Use only the natural form, d-alpha-tocopherol.  The closest form to nature includes alpha tocopherols as well as mixed or gamma, beta and delta tocopherols.

Vitamin C is another antioxidant that will neutralize free radicals.  It also helps with insulin sensitivity. Preferred forms are from fruits such as the amla berry or acerola cherry.  50-250mg per day is sufficient in this form.

Chromium is a very important mineral for increasing insulin efficiency and reducing glucose levels. Most people eating modern diets are chromium deficient.  Beef, liver, eggs, chicken, oysters, wheat germ, green peppers, apples, bananas, spinach, butter and molasses are good food sources.  For supplementation, take 200mcg of chromium picolinate if you are healthy.  If you are obese or have high blood pressure or high triglycerides or high cholesterol, or if any of these conditions run in your family, take 400-800mcg.

Zinc is another mineral that most of us don't get enough of.  It helps regulate blood sugar and weight and helps insulin do its job.  Foods high in zinc include oysters, ginger root, beef and lamb.  Supplementation can be tricky because zinc and copper need to be at proper levels in your blood.  Otherwise they will interfere with each other.  There is no way to tell what your levels of zinc and copper are without testing.  

Magnesium can help reduce insulin resistance.  It can also help reduce high blood pressure.  400mg per day should be sufficient for most people.

For more information on diet for metabolic syndrome, be sure to see menopause diets and weight gain and menopause


Challem, J., Berkson, B. M.D., Smith, M..  Syndrome X

Enig, M. PhD., Fallon, S.  Eat Fat, Lose Fat

Swcharzbein, D. M.D., Deville, N. The Schwarzbein Principle

> > Reduce Insulin Resistance