Insulin resistance is when our body's cells stop responding as well to insulin, a hormone that helps control our blood sugar levels. This causes our blood sugar levels to rise and stay elevated. We usually associate sugary and processed foods with this condition, but some everyday foods can similarly affect our bodies without us even realising it.
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Here are common everyday foods you may not realise are making you insulin-resistant.
Despite being a staple in many diets, white bread is highly processed and lacks essential nutrients, including fibre. The refining process strips away the bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. This causes the bread to be rapidly digested and absorbed, sharply increasing blood sugar levels. Over time, the repeated consumption of white bread can lead to insulin resistance.
Sugary beverages such as fruit juices and sports drinks
We all know that sodas produce a massive sugar hit. However, sports drinks are also often loaded with added sugars, which can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Over time, consuming excessive amounts of sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance.
Whether it's a glass of orange or apple, fruit juice is essentially a sugar bomb disguised as a healthy drink. On average, a 250ml serving of store-bought orange juice contains 22 grams of sugar, which equates to three to four medium-sized oranges. And yes, although it’s natural sugar, it’ll still spike your blood sugar levels.
Smoothies made using high-sugar fruit, such as ripped bananas, mangos and pears, are another sugar bomb waiting to explode in your gut. For most of our lives, smoothies have been marketed as healthy alternatives to cooked breakfasts. However, I’m sorry to break it to you, they’re also another drink that’ll spike your blood glucose levels.
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Processed snacks, such as chips, crackers, and cookies
These foods also promote insulin resistance. These snacks typically contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. Combining these ingredients can cause blood sugar levels to rise and contribute to insulin resistance when consumed regularly.
Loaded with carbs and added sugar, cereal is one of the biggest culprits. An average 100-gram serving of cereal contains about 19 grams of sugar, and when it's your first meal of the day, you're only sending your body on a sugar roller coaster.
Even be wary of brands that state they’re high in fibre. Sugar and other additives often lurk in the ingredients list in high quantities.
Lauded for being a healthy sweetener alternative, honey is a sugar assassin in disguise. An average 100-gram serving of honey contains an eye-watering 82 grams of sugar, and if you use honey as a daily sweetener for your meals and beverages, you can easily surpass this amount. Honey, although a natural sugar, will spike your insulin levels significantly.
Some foods can make it harder for our bodies to use insulin properly, leading to health issues. However, it's not just about the specific foods we eat but also about our overall diet and lifestyle. If we occasionally eat these "insulin-resistant" foods as part of a balanced diet, it might not have a big impact on our health. But it's still a good idea to limit how much of these foods we eat and focus more on eating whole, unprocessed foods to keep our bodies sensitive to insulin and maintain good health overall.