Balancing Your Blood Sugar
Our standard American diet is based on many different kinds of the same thing: sugar. People often assume that it is simple to reduce their blood sugar by avoiding candy and sugary drinks. It’s much more complicated because even food that is embraced as healthy can affect your blood sugar level. It’s not only people who have been diagnosed with diabetes but also healthy and clean eaters have blood sugar levels that swing and influence how hungry they will feel.
Our pancreas releases the hormone insulin into our bloodstream when we are eating food. This insulin clears the blood of sugar and shoves it into our cells for energy. When too much sugar is consumed, the sugar is pushed and stored into the fat cells, which makes us gain weight. With a chronic intake of sugary foods, the body becomes resistant to insulin, the sugar doesn’t get into the cells but stays in your blood, hence creating high blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes are the leaders in our global health epidemic and can ultimately lead to heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, dementia, and early death. Also, people with lean body shapes or people that have not been diagnosed with high blood glucose levels need to understand that your mood, sleep, mental and physical performance, and your cravings are all controlled by your blood sugar.
When your blood sugar spikes after a carbo-rich meal, and then crashes after coming down off that sugar-high, you are often left with mood swings, lethargy, lack of concentration, and cravings and hunger.
Most people look at the sugar amounts on the nutrition label of a particular food. This doesn’t always make sense because it is also important to know the food’s glycemic index (GI), which directs how that food affects your blood sugar. Here is an example: A cup of white rice has 0 grams of sugar but has a glycemic index of 75, which is extremely high (higher than eating jelly beans!) and will spike your blood sugar tremendously. It seems complicated, but instead of looking up the GI of every food item, you can look at the nutrition facts on the back of groceries and check the number of carbohydrates and fiber instead. The lower the carbohydrate amount and the higher the fiber amount, the more likely will that food keep your blood sugar stable.
Healthy Foods That Balance Blood Sugar
· High fiber foods like oats, peas, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and avocados
· All fruits in the “berry” family
· Non-starchy vegetables
· Unprocessed whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, barley, amaranth, and millet
· Olives and olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, coconut oil
· Animal Protein: pastured eggs, wild-caught fish, organic meat and poultry, cheese (especially Gruyere) and cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt
· Unsweetened plant-based milk
· Controlling your portions
Additionally, you can help control your blood sugar by exercising regularly. Your muscles will use up some of your sugar in your blood for energy.
If you are feeling hungry all the time, dealing with mood swings or brain fog, have been diagnosed with prediabetes, or are overweight, use this as a wake-up call and focus more on your body and what it needs to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Eat, move, and live…better!
Tanja Samalya, MNT