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How to lower insulin, and why it matters

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Lifestyle changesNatural remediesMedicationsLower insulin quicklySummary
Chronic high insulin levels may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Regular physical activity and a nutrient-rich diet may naturally lower insulin, or a doctor may prescribe medications like metformin.
Medically reviewed by Philip Ngo, PharmD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas produces. Insulin plays a crucial role in regulating glucose levels — also known as blood sugar levels — and helps move glucose to cells to use for energy.

In other words, the main function of insulin is to keep blood sugar levels stable by signaling the cells to absorb and store glucose.

However, when insulin levels are persistently high, it may lead to health challenges — including insulin resistance. This is when cells become less responsive to insulin’s effects, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

High blood sugar may eventually lead to prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and other health complications.

Keeping track of insulin and blood sugar levels, and lowering them if they are continuously high, is key to reducing your chance of chronic conditions.

Lifestyle changes to lower insulin

Young male checking blood sugar levels to know if he needs to lower insulin
Photography by Maskot/Getty Images

Making specific lifestyle changes may help you lower insulin and reverse insulin resistance. These may include:

Taking part in regular physical activity

Regular physical activity helps you lower insulin and keep it at an optimum level.

Aim for a combination of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, to lower insulin. A good way to determine if you are exercising at a moderate-intensity level is to check if you can talk as usual but cannot sing.

Federal guidelines advise at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week and 2 weekly hours of strength training exercises. You can divide these times into shorter sessions throughout the day.

Choosing a nutrient-rich diet

To lower your insulin levels, you may want to prioritize high fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, such as broccoli.

Additionally, adding lean protein sources like skinless poultry, wild-caught fish, beans, and lentils may be a good idea. These can help you regulate blood sugar levels and help make you feel full.

Grouping these into smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day is also recommended.

Minimizing processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages is also advisable to reverse insulin resistance. You may want to choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible to avoid rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes.

Checking the glycemic index (GI) may also help you. The GI ranks carbohydrate foods by how quickly they raise your blood sugar.

Managing stress

Chronic psychological stress may affect insulin levels and lead to insulin resistance.

Finding ways to manage stress — like meditation, deep breathing, or activities you enjoy — may help you cope with stress and positively affect insulin regulation.

Getting enough sleep

Lack of sleep may disrupt hormonal balance and increase cortisol levels, leading to increased risks of insulin resistance and high blood sugar.

Getting around 7–9 hours of sleep every day may help keep your insulin at optimal levels. You can help to do this by:

  • putting a consistent sleep schedule into place
  • exercising during the day
  • switching off screens at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • managing stress

If you live with a sleep disorder, consider discussing treatment options with a healthcare professional.

Natural remedies to lower insulin

Alongside lifestyle changes, natural remedies may also help lower insulin levels or reverse insulin resistance.

However, it is advisable to talk with a healthcare professional before trying any of these. This is because natural remedies may not be suitable for everyone, and some supplements and herbs may interact with medications.

Vitamins and minerals

  • Vitamin D: There is a link between adequate vitamin D levels and improved insulin sensitivity, which is how well your body responds to insulin and uses glucose for energy. By enhancing insulin sensitivity, the body can efficiently utilize insulin, leading to lower insulin levels.
  • Magnesium: This mineral helps lower insulin levels by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It helps transport glucose into cells, allowing them to use it for energy, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the need for excess insulin production.

Herbs and spices

  • Cinnamon: This may help lower insulin levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. This allows cells to respond better to the hormone’s actions and reduces the amount of insulin needed.
  • Fenugreek seeds: These may help lower insulin levels by improving glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and blood sugar management.

Complementary therapies

  • Acupuncture: A 2021 systematic review of people with polycystic ovary syndrome found that stimulating specific acupuncture points may enhance the body’s response to insulin and support better blood sugar management.
  • Yoga: A 2022 study showed that integrated yoga therapy for people with diabetes enhanced insulin sensitivity and improved glucose regulation by reducing stress levels and promoting overall well-being.

Medications to lower insulin

If your insulin is too high and does not respond to other strategies, or if you receive a diagnosis of insulin resistance, your healthcare professional may prescribe medications.

Commonly medications to lower insulin may include:


Metformin (Glucophage) belongs to the biguanide class of medications. It may help lower insulin by reducing glucose production in the liver and improving insulin sensitivity in the body’s tissues. 

Common side effects may include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Need a refill for metformin (Glucophage)? You may be able to get an online prescription through Optum Perks in as little as 15 minutes with no video or appointment needed. Learn more here.

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Glimepiride (Amaryl) belongs to the sulfonylureas class of medications. It works by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas, which helps lower blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of insulin available. This facilitates the uptake and utilization of glucose by cells in the body.

Common side effects may include: 

  • low blood sugar
  • vomiting
  • nausea


Pioglitazone-metformin (Actoplus Met) belongs to the thiazolidinediones class of medications. It lowers insulin levels by enhancing your body’s sensitivity to insulin.

Common side effects may include:

  • edema
  • headaches


Miglitol (Glyset) belongs to the alpha-glucosidase inhibitors class of medications. It delays the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, helping to lower blood sugar levels. 

Common side effects may include:

  • flatulence
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain


Sitagliptin (Januvia) is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor. It works by increasing the levels of a hormone called incretin, which stimulates insulin release to lower blood sugar levels.

Common side effects may include:

  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • upper respiratory tract infections

Other medications

Depending on your overall health, age, and lifestyle, your healthcare professional may recommend other drug classes to lower insulin levels.

These other medications may include:

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

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Lowering insulin levels quickly

It is challenging to lower insulin levels quickly. This is because insulin secretion, and its effects on the body, need time to adjust. There is no quick way of lowering insulin permanently.

The time it takes to see lower insulin levels varies for each person, but noticeable improvements may take weeks to months if you follow consistent lifestyle habits and doctor’s guidelines.

Each nutritious meal, physical activity session, and medication you take is one step closer to lower insulin levels.


Lowering insulin levels is important for maintaining overall health and preventing complications like diabetes and cardiovascular challenges.

Lifestyle modifications, natural remedies, and medications can help you lower and keep insulin at optimal levels, even if you have insulin resistance.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.


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