The importance of balancing blood sugar

Nutrition and blood sugar

Keeping your blood sugar levels in balance is so important – your health and well-being and even the future of your health depends on it.

Balancing your blood sugar in terms of health means:

Seeds– More energy
– Balanced hormones
– Cardiovascular protection
– Cancer protective
– Better moods
– Mental clarity
– Better digestion
– Less toxic state within body

If your blood sugar levels fall too low you will faint. The brain uses 20% of the simple sugars that we get from our food. Which is why we feel so drained after an exam!

The body is very sensitive to our sugar levels and rightly so. If we eat too much sugar or refined quick release carbohydrates it creates a stress response in the body.

Long before someone decided to make a diet out of the Glycaemic Index, many years ago people understood that too many sugary substances were bad for your well-being, today through marketing and poor education people have forgotten and have accepted that many sugary foods are just part of a normal diet.

What does balancing blood sugar actually mean and what is the connection to high and low GI foods?

If a food contains simple sugars these will be broken down immediately and enter the blood stream. All carbohydrates start to be broken down in the mouth as soon as it comes into contact with Saliva.

These foods that contain sugars that enter the blood stream quickly are high on the GI chart. Even carrots are high on the GI chart and can cause blood sugar problems when drunk as a juice regularly.

What happens in the blood?

When sugars hit the blood stream the body has to respond immediately to remove as much of that sugar as possible.

  • Insulin is released in excess and removes all blood sugar
  • This makes the blood safer and removes risk of tissue damage to all vessels and organs
  • It creates a dip in energy, which causes someone to crave more carbs or sugary products, causes fatigue and depression.
  • When there is low blood sugar the body has to initiate a stress response that will cause a glucose dump from the where it is stored in the liver.
  • This then causes yet another insulin response
  • The body ends up running on stress hormones just to keep energy levels up
  • This is turn is very damaging to health and well-being both mentally and physically
  • The cycle is never ending until a person learns to control the blood sugar balance
  • This can ONLY be done through what you eat and what you don’t eat.
  • A diet that consists of refined foods and sugary foods that are eaten in excess can lead to type II diabetes eventually, but even if you have not reached the stage of diagnosis a lot of damage will be done leading up to the stage where you start to have health problems. Even moderate eating of highly sugary foods over a lifetime will take its toll.

    How to Balance Blood Sugar through diet and lifestyle

    Most people have poor blood sugar balance; this is because most people haven’t read the instructions for running a human body properly!

    It is actually very easy when you know how. My suggestion is to follow these instructions for a while and when you feel a bit more balanced then you can have ‘Treats’ every now and then. A healthy body can cope with the occasional high blood sugar increase.

    Balancing your blood sugar = more energy and feeling good!

    Instructions for balancing Blood Sugar:

    1.  Avoid sugary foods, sugar, white refined carbs, alcohol, coffee, and too much dried fruit and fruit juice.

    2.  Eat a substantial breakfast that contains – slow release carbohydrates (whole grains, oats, brown spelt, millet, brown rice), proteins and fats. This combination takes a lot longer to digest and the sugars from the foods are released slowly – an insulin response is avoided.

    3.  Eat healthy snacks that contain some fats and proteins like nuts and seeds, avocado, whole grain spelt bread dipped in olive oil, a handful of pumpkin seeds with some goji berries or raisins, an apple with a few fresh almonds, a spelt cracker with avocado, try my ‘Power Cookies’ recipe.

    4.  Eat a carbohydrate rich lunch that contains some fats and some protein (i.e.: Rice noodles in Miso soup with asparagus and a little sesame oil, Lentils with brown rice, chicken and vegetables, eggs and wheat free bread).

    5.  Eat a moderate evening meal with just proteins and vegetables (i.e: Salmon and kale with shitake mushrooms and ginger, chicken and vegetable casserole, Legumes and veg).

    6.  Keep blood sugar balanced through the night eat a snack that contains slow release carbs and a small amount of protein and fat – like seeds or nuts but in moderation.

    To sweeten foods and drinks you can use Molasses sugar and syrup or Manuka honey in moderation. These are still sugars.

    Although these are sugars they are not empty sugars and contain many nutrients that in fact help the body in times of stress.

    Molasses sugar

    Importance of slow release carbohydrates

    Foods which release glucose slowly into our bloodstream avoids sudden blood sugar highs then lows therefore keeps energy levels, moods, and hunger in balance.

    The rate at which carbohydrates affect our blood glucose levels are determined by the following factors:

    Refined carbohydrates

    These have been processed so that they produce a fine texture. The starch grains are partially broken down, increasing their surface area and the fibrous layer has been removed.

    This reduces the work of the digestive enzymes and gives them a greater area to act on in order to obtain the simple glucose molecules. Therefore refined carbohydrates release glucose quickly into the blood stream giving a sharp rise in blood glucose.

    Wholegrain unrefined carbohydrates have not been processed, therefore their starch grains are still intact. It takes longer for our digestive enzymes to break it down, as there has been no help with the digestive process, therefore glucose is released into the blood stream at a slower rate.

    Cooked carbohydrates

    Reducing cooking time for vegetables and grains means they will release their sugars more slowly, so rice and pasta should be not too soft, the firmer it is the slower the release of sugars.

    Fibre

    Wholegrains are high in fibre as well as beans and pulses; this slows the rate at which the food is digested slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream. The fibre pectin found in apples slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream, however when this is removed through juicing, the apple juice releases glucose quickly into the blood stream.

    Presence of Fats, Protein or Acid

    The combination of fat, protein or acid with carbohydrates can slow release of glucose into the bloodstream as it increases the transit time of food in the stomach. Therefore foods such as sourdough bread, or adding oil to potato can reduce their effect on blood sugar.

    Stimulants: such as coffee, tea, cola drinks and cigarettes effect blood sugar, as they stimulate a ‘fight or flight’ response, causing a sudden surge of glucose to be release from their stores into the blood, ready for use by the muscles and brain. When the blood glucose is unused insulin, must be released to stabilise the blood glucose. This causes a blood sugar high then a low.

    Fast Release Carbohydrates can be consumed after exercise

    After training the glycogen levels in the muscles must be quickly replenished to avoid the break down of protein from the muscles for energy. Foods, which cause a rapid increase of blood glucose levels, should be consumed as soon as training ends. There are healthy fast release carbohydrates compared to energy drinks and sports bars, which are full of refined sugar. Carrot juice, white potatoes, ripe bananas and rice cakes all provide fast released sugar.

    Slow Release Carbohydrates: apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries and other whole fruits, nuts, beans and pulses, wholegrains, vegetables.

    Fast Release Carbohydrates: pumpkin, parsnips, dried fruit, sugar, honey, refined foods, watermelon, refined cereals such as cornflakes, fruit juices.

    beans

    Nutritionist-WandsworthAbout The Author

    Sam Bourne is a qualified Nutritionist registered with the NTC (Nutritional Therapy Council), CNHC (Complementary and Natural Health Council) and BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy). She draws her clients from Wandsworth and the Central London area.

    Find out more about Sam’s work by visiting her GoToSee profile page here

    Or

    For an appointment contact:
    sam@foodspa.org.uk
    m: 07780 600 966
    tel: 0203 3440468
    www.foodspa.org.uk


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