Insulin resistance: lifestyle and nutritional interventions

Altern Med Rev. 2000 Apr;5(2):109-32.


Insulin resistance appears to be a common feature and a possible contributing factor to several frequent health problems, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, polycystic ovary disease, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, certain hormone-sensitive cancers, and obesity. Modifiable factors thought to contribute to insulin resistance include diet, exercise, smoking, and stress. Lifestyle intervention to address these factors appears to be a critical component of any therapeutic approach. The role of nutritional and botanical substances in the management of insulin resistance requires further elaboration; however, available information suggests some substances are capable of positively influencing insulin resistance. Minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, chromium, and vanadium appear to have associations with insulin resistance or its management. Amino acids, including L-carnitine, taurine, and L-arginine, might also play a role in the reversal of insulin resistance. Other nutrients, including glutathione, coenzyme Q10, and lipoic acid, also appear to have therapeutic potential. Research on herbal medicines for the treatment of insulin resistance is limited; however, silymarin produced positive results in diabetic patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, and Inula racemosa potentiated insulin sensitivity in an animal model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Diet*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Life Style*