How to Help Your Body Release More Insulin Naturally

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The hormone insulin is essential for regulating levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, inside your body. Insulin is produced by certain cells within the pancreas, a small organ located close to your liver. When blood sugar levels rise after you eat, the pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin then helps the sugar leave your bloodstream and become absorbed by cells all throughout your body. These cells use the sugar as energy, which your body uses to function normally.

For many people living with diabetes, the body can’t produce enough natural insulin to transfer glucose out of the bloodstream or the body becomes insensitive to the effect of insulin. When glucose stays in your bloodstream, your cells don’t have enough energy to function properly, and the high levels of blood sugar can lead to serious problems. Certain medications can boost insulin levels, but many people are also interested in ways to help the body release more natural insulin. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to help your body do this. Be sure to let your doctor know if you plan to supplement your medical treatment plan with other interventions; that way, you can make sure you stay as healthy as possible.

Foods to Boost Natural Insulin

Your pancreas releases insulin in response to rising blood glucose levels, such as when you eat a meal. But increased amounts of natural insulin may be released if you consume certain dietary nutrients. Research indicates that diets rich in protein and healthy fat may help improve insulin levels in people living with diabetes.

Through digestion, the proteins you eat are broken down into amino acids, which play many crucial roles inside your body. Some amino acids, including those that come from protein, trigger pancreatic cells to produce and release more insulin. While it’s good to eat proteins from a variety of sources, some research indicates that plant-based proteins are especially beneficial for increasing natural insulin levels. Plant-based proteins come from a variety of sources, including beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and tofu.

Healthy fats also help your pancreas release insulin naturally. While the process is not fully understood, research shows fats increase the likelihood that insulin is released when blood sugar levels rise. Healthy fats are found in many dietary sources, including:

  • Avocados

  • Nuts like almonds, peanuts, or cashews

  • Oils including olive, canola, or flaxseed oils

  • Some types of fish, such as herring, salmon, and sardines

  • Sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds

Keep in mind some sources of healthy dietary fats, like nuts and oils, are high in calories. It’s best to consume these types of fats in small quantities.

Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

Each day, your body produces a hormone called melatonin in response to the natural day and night cycles. Melatonin helps improve sleep, and many people take this hormone as a dietary supplement before bed. According to some research, melatonin stimulates your pancreas to release natural insulin. This may help you achieve better blood glucose control. As promising as this sounds, other research shows that high levels of melatonin may actually prevent the pancreas from releasing natural insulin.

Because the research on melatonin’s role in insulin release is inconsistent, it’s best to follow a sleep schedule that allows you to get enough, but not too much, sleep. Most adults benefit from seven to nine hours of sleep every night. It’s important to stick to your sleep schedule, even on weekends, to maintain healthy melatonin levels. 

Living with diabetes is challenging, and it can take time to find the treatment plan that works best for you. However, you can help boost your body’s insulin levels naturally in addition to following your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Simple changes, like switching to more plant-based proteins, may make a huge difference in your body’s ability to release insulin naturally. Just be sure to check with your doctor before making any changes at home to your treatment regimen.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 22
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  8. Circadian clocks and insulin resistance. Nature Reviews: Endocrinology. https://pages.ucsd.edu/~mboyle/COGS163/pdf-files/Circadian%20clocks%20and%20insulin%20resistance-2018.pdf
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