If you struggle with your weight it is likely the words “blood sugar levels” strike a note of fear into your heart.
Do visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, and insulin injections dance their way through your nightmares?
Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. It is important to have the right balance to fuel your brain and muscles.
Blood sugar levels fluctuate with diet
When you eat food containing sugars or starches (“carbs”), your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low and works hard to turn the sugar(glucose) from the carbs that you eat into instant energy or to store for later in our cells.
Low blood sugar is referred to as “hypoglycaemia.”
High blood sugar is referred to as hyperglycaemia. Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycaemia) leads to “insulin resistance.”
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.
Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes.
So, how you can optimize your food intake and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable?
Improve your blood sugar with food
The most simple and easiest thing you can do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. Cut out the sweet drinks, have dessert a little less often, replace white rice with brown, white flour with whole wheat. If you must eat sugar make it unrefined.
Eat more fibre. Fibre slows down the sugar absorbed from your meal and it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level. fibre is found in plant-based foods if they are eaten in their natural state, processing food removes fibre. Eating nuts, seeds, whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fibre intake.
FUN FACT: Cinnamon helps cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.
Improve your blood sugar with lifestyle
Exercise also improves insulin sensitivity, and your cells won’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood. Plus, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood.
Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels.
The fuel that your brain and muscles need in the ‘fight or flee’ response that stress triggers is of course sugar! When you stress signals your body sends signals to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream thereby increasing blood sugar levels. Manage your stress. Simple ways to do this are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.
Sleep and stress go hand in hand.
When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you release stress hormones, have a bigger appetite, and get sugar cravings. Sleep is a crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make quality sleep a priority – your blood sugar and the rest of your physical and mental health will thank you for it.
It is a constant quest for your body to keep your blood sugar stable and it puts mechanisms in place for this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant). Long-term blood sugar issues spell trouble for your health.
There are many nutrition and lifestyle remedies you can make to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, and eating more fibre, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar and in fact overall good health.
Cinnamon Apples – blood sugar balancing recipe
- 2 apples, chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- a pinch of sea salt
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will soften, and absorb the water.
Add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.
Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well.
Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness! Serve and enjoy!
Tip: Keeping the peel on increases fibre.