Insulin: Unless you're a diabetic, it's probably one of those health terms you're familiar with but can't really define. However, if you're overweight, that needs to change. Even if you're not one of the 26 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes, insulin issues may still be hindering your health and contributing excess belly fat.
When you eat a meal, your body breaks the carbohydrates down into a sugar called glucose, and insulin is the hormone responsible for ushering that glucose into your cells so it can be used for energy. However, lifestyle factors including a diet high in processed carbs and sugary drinks can cause your body to stop responding to insulin effectively, preventing glucose from entering your cells and prompting your pancreas to pump out extra insulin to compensate. The result: excess insulin and sugar in your blood stream that leads to weight gain, especially around your middle. "If your problem area is your love handles, then you likely have high insulin levels," says Natasha Turner, ND, hormone expert and author of The Carb Sensitivity Program. "Too much insulin encourages your body to store unused glucose as fat, and it also prevents your body from using stored fat for energy."
The good news: Research shows that nixing processed foods and staying active can bring your insulin and blood sugar to healthy levels, and help you drop pounds for good. Even better? Certain foods may give you an extra fat-blasting boost by restoring your body's sensitivity to insulin. Here are 12 to add to your diet, as adapted from The Carb Sensitivity Program.