With so many disease models linked to insulin resistance, ensuring that your body has an appropriate insulin response is crucial. Achieving insulin sensitivity is achievable without medical and pharmaceutical intervention. With insulin resistance and metabolic disorders on the rise, today, we explore some of the key natural ways to manage blood sugar levels and promote insulin sensitivity.
What is Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is the body’s inadequate response to glucose consumption, caused by chronically elevated levels of glucose in the blood. In other words, your body cannot appropriately respond to the use of sugar with insulin. In other words, insulin is a crucial hormone to help your body turn food into energy.
Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by your pancreas and is considered the primary anabolic hormone of the body. Insulin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into the liver, fat, and skeletal muscle cells. 
In almost all modern disease models, insulin resistance is present.
Preventing it or reversing it should be a priority for anyone in the pursuit of health. Luckily there is an array of lifestyle changes and habits that promote insulin sensitivity naturally.
Natural Solutions to Insulin Resistance
Sleep quality has a profound impact on the body’s ability to shuttle glucose properly. One single night of poor sleep can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity the following day.  Getting enough hours is a part of this equation, but quality sleep means more than just clocking your 7-9 hours.
Quality sleep starts the morning of, with exposure to daylight.
This morning daylight helps set your circadian rhythm and promotes a night of deep sleep. Light plays a huge role in circadian (and sleep) health. Getting enough sunlight is one factor, but avoiding artificial light after sundown is equally essential.
Winding down after sundown promotes deep sleep, which means avoiding vigorous exercise, a big meal, or exposure to blue light. If you need to get stuff done after sunset, consider investing in red light bulbs, salt lamps, candles, or wear a pair of high-quality blue light blocking glasses.
Exercise shuttles glucose into your muscles, promoting instant insulin sensitivity that can last anywhere from 2 to 48 hours, depending on the type and duration of the movement.  Studies highlight the power of various sorts of exercise in improving insulin sensitivity, including cardiovascular conditioning, and weight resistance training. [4, 5]
Another way to improve insulin sensitivity using movement is to go for a short walk after every meal. Studies suggest that an easy ten-minute walk post-meal can have a dramatic impact on increasing insulin sensitivity. Walking in a fasted state first thing in the morning can also improve insulin sensitivity for the whole day. 
Fasting has been shown to have a profound impact on improving insulin sensitivity. Studies in humans demonstrate the ability for intermittent Fasting to reduce fasting blood sugar by 3-6% and reduce fasting insulin by 20-31%!  Fasting can be implemented as a great preventative tool for type 2 diabetes.
Women in their reproductive years should be mindful that intermittent Fasting can have the opposite effect, depending on their body’s needs. One study highlights the increased insulin resistance in women after implementing intermittent Fasting for three weeks.  Using a blood glucose monitor can be a great way to tailor your efforts to your individual biological needs.
4. Diet Variation
Diet variation is a simple way to reap similar benefits to Fasting, without the potential burden (depending on your current state of health and bio-individual needs). This concept of diet variation mainly hinges on varying your diet, between high carb, low carb (keto), and Fasting– to mimic ancestral periods of a feast and famine.
Diet variation leads to forced adaptation, without allowing the benefits to plateau, or without causing excessive deficit to the point of metabolic downregulation. If you’re in great health, the variation can lean more in favor of low-carb and one to two fasting days per week. Someone dealing with insulin resistance or hormonal problems should start with higher carb days per week. Either way, everyone should have at least one high carb refeed, to promote the forced adaptation that occurs due to variation.
5. Insulin Resistance and Diet Quality
Diet variation is beneficial regardless of the quality of your diet, but to get the most out of it, you should also be mindful of the quality of your food. Food quality matters because highly processed foods are more inflammatory (some, incredibly), and will promote insulin resistance.
Foods to avoid are highly processed sugars and flours, which have very high glycemic indexes. Processed vegetable oils (like canola, cottonseed, soybean, and safflower) are also highly inflammatory. Instead, opt for whole organic foods like unprocessed vegetables, fruits, pasture-raised meats, and wild fish. Cook using animal fats (like tallow, lard, ghee, or butter), and opt for adding vegetable fats (like cold-pressed organic olive oil) as a drizzle after cooking.
6. Insulin Resistance and Stress Management
When the body is in fight or flight mode, a process called gluconeogenesis can cause the release of glucose into the blood, as a way of helping you escape the ‘imminent danger’ you are facing. The problem is, modern-day stress is not a result of imminent danger. Our low levels of underlying chronic stress can cause the chronic dumping of insulin all day and night, leading to reduced insulin sensitivity. 
Removing stressful influences on our life (physical, chemical, and emotional stressors) is ultimately the solution. Including mindfulness practices (like meditation, yoga, breathwork, tai chi, or qi gong) is another way to reduce stress dramatically. 
7. Herbs and Spices
Cinnamon is one of the most well known and readily available spices to help promote balanced blood sugar. Using organic Ceylon cinnamon can be as simple as sprinkling it on your food, although you can also consume it in higher doses more palatable via a capsule. 
Bitter melon has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a way to balance blood sugar. It can be purchased in capsule form and consumed 10 minutes before a meal to help offset the insulin response. 
Berberine improves insulin sensitivity via a cascade reaction of insulin-like growth factor-1. The therapeutic dosage for berberine as a blood sugar stabilizer is 500 mg, three times a day. It can be consumed in capsule form. 
Studies suggest that fenugreek seeds can also help control blood sugar. Minor evidence highlights the use of fenugreek powder in baked goods for a lessened glycemic response. Still, the evidence is more substantial for the use of ten fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water and consumed before a meal. 
Studies highlight the ability of fresh or powdered ginger to render sugar receptors on muscle cells more available, increasing sugar uptake. The bioactive compound that promotes this action is called gingerol, which also has potent inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 
Although insulin resistance is on the rise, there are many lifestyle factors and habits that you can implement to increase insulin sensitivity. Managing your body’s relationship to glucose is paramount for whole-body health. Some natural solutions include quality sleep, adequate movement, Fasting, diet variation, stress management, and incorporating specific herbs, spices, and supplements (like cinnamon, bitter melon, fenugreek, berberine, and ginger).