Let’s talk about blood sugar. You may not know exactly what it means but you’ve more than likely heard of the term. At the end of the day, the truth is, balancing your blood sugar is of the upmost importance. This is because it plays a large role in your feelings, energy, cognitive function, and much more. You may already be familiar with dips and spikes in your blood sugar but with that said, surprisingly, very few people recognize its effects on a daily basis. In this article you’ll learn all about what happens to your body when you consume too much sugar, ways to balance your blood sugar, why balancing your blood sugar is important and how you can keep your blood sugar stable. Let’s do this!
So, first things first. What is blood sugar? Blood sugar is the amount of sugar (or glucose) in your blood at any given time. Sugar, or glucose, is the body’s main source of energy. Sugar is produced when we break down any form of carbohydrate. Whether it is an orange, piece of toast or a slice of cake, that carb is absorbed into our bloodstream. Immediately or eventually, carbohydrates are used as a source of energy.
Why is blood sugar regulation important? Well, by keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range, as often as possible, you help prevent long-term, serious health problems. This includes things such as vision loss, heart disease and kidney disease. On a day-to-day basis, by staying within your target range you improve your energy, stabilise your mood and balance your hormones.
Now you might be wondering, what happens to my body if I consumer too much sugar? Let’s us tell you.
This probably will come as no surprise but eating too much sugar will lead to weight gain. For example, sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, juice and sweet teas are jam packed with fructose, a type of simple sugar. Fructose increases your hunger and causes resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and notifies your body to stop eating. Instead of grabbing sugary drinks, opt for some ice-cold water with fresh slices of fruit or a delicious green smoothie.
Sugar also impacts your brain as after eating it, it releases a large amount of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables don’t cause the brain to release as much dopamine as sugar does, therefore your brain ends up craving more and more sugar to obtain the same feeling of pleasure.
Your teeth will also fall victim to sugar, which you probably already knew. We all used to roll our eyes at our parents when they told us candy would rot our teeth but did, we listen… no! But yet again our parents were right. Bacteria that cause cavities love to eat sugar lingering in your mouth after eating something sweet.
Wanting to reverse the signs of ageing? Then you need to limit your sugar intake. Consuming too much sugar causing the sugar to attach to proteins within your bloodstream, which creates harmful molecules called “AGEs”. Want to take a wild guess at what they do? Ding, ding, ding we have a winner! They age your skin through the breakdown of collagen and elastin as its those protein fibres that keep your skin youthful and firm.
Excessive amounts of sugar can also lead to liver disease. As we all know most packaged foods, snacks and drinks are sweetened with fructose, which your liver turns into fat. If you are regularly putting fructose into your body then tiny drops of fat will begin to build up in your liver, which is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. By changing your diet early, you can reverse this condition except overtime the swelling and scarring can damage your liver. They don’t put that information on candy bar wrappers!
Do you feel like you’ve been experiencing mood problems lately? Well, your sugar intake could be to blame. A study showed that men who ate 66 grams of sugar per day (almost double the recommended amount) were 23% more likely to develop anxiety and/or depression that men who ate less. By consuming too much sugar you could be fuelling depression due to the swelling and inflammation around your brain, which is common in those with depression.
We obviously don’t want any of the above health problems to occur so now for the most important part of the article. How can you balance your blood sugar?
By increasing your exercise, you can reach and maintain a moderate weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity means that your cells can more effectively use the available sugar in your bloodstream. Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction. Useful forms of exercise include brisk walking, weightlifting, running, dancing, biking, swimming, hiking and may more. If you are new to exercising, try aiming for 10-minute exercise sessions 3 times a day for 5 days. This might be easier than tackling a big session all at once.
Manage your Carbohydrate Intake
Your carbohydrate intake strongly influences your blood sugar levels. Your body breaks carb down into sugars, mainly glucose. Then, insulin helps your body use and store it for energy. If you eat too many carbs, this process fails, and blood glucose levels can rise. It is important to note that low carb diets and no carb diets are not the same. You can still eat some carbs when monitoring your blood sugar.
Eat More Fibre
Fibre slows carb digestion and sugar absorption, which promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. There are two types of fibre, insoluble and soluble. While both are important, soluble fibre has been shown to improve blood sugar management, while insoluble fibre hasn’t been shown to have to same effect. Foods that are high in fibre include fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. The recommended daily intake is about 25g for women and 25g for men. That’s roughly 14grams for every 1,000 calories.
Drink More Water
By drinking enough water, you can help your blood sugar stay within healthy ranges. In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine. Drinking water regularly may rehydrate the blood, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce diabetes risk. If you don’t absolutely love water, try chopping up some fresh fruit and adding it to your water bottle. It’s worked for us!
Portion Control is Your Friend
Portion control can help you regulate your calories intake and maintain a moderate weight. Weight management promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Monitoring your serving sizes also helps prevent blood sugar spikes. If you need some helpful tips for managing portion sizes, try these. Measure and weigh your portions, use smaller plates, eat slowly, keep a food journal avoid buffets and read food labels to check the serving sizes.
We know this is easier said than done but did you know that stress can affect your blood sugar levels? Well, now you do. When you’re stressed, your body secretes hormones called glucagon and cortisol, which cause blood sugar levels to rise. Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction may also help correct insulin secretion problems among people with chronic diabetes, according to studies. Thinco has written a variety of articles on managing your stress levels. If you need some tips on this one, please visit our blog section on the website.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep feels excellent and is necessary for good health. Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest can affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They can also increase appetite and promote weight gain. Sleep deprivation also raises levels of the hormone cortisol, which plays an essential role in blood sugar management. It is recommended that adults get at least 7 to 8 hours of high-quality sleep per night. To improve the quality of sleep you are receiving try to avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day, exercise regularly, keep your bedroom cool, cut down on screen time before bed, follow a sleep schedule, create a bedtime routine, limit your naps, avoid working in your bedroom, try meditation, use calming scents such as lavender or take a warm bath before bed.
Eat Foods Rich in Chromium and Magnesium
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have been linked to micronutrient deficiencies. Some examples include deficiencies in the mineral’s chromium and magnesium. Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism. It may potentiate the action on insulin, thus aiding blood sugar regulation. Chromium-rich foods include nuts, meats, fruit, whole grain products and vegetables. Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels so try including tuna, dark leafy greens, whole grains, avocados, beans, bananas, and dark chocolate into your diet to boost those magnesium levels!
To help you on your journey in balancing your blood sugar, we have found you some easy and delicious recipes to get you started.
Avocado Grilled Cauliflower Sandwiches
4 cups cauliflower rice
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 pasture-raised eggs
1.3 cup almond flour
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ghee
2 ripe avocados, mashed
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine cauliflower rice and sea salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Use a clean kitchen towel to wring out the cauliflower to remove moisture.
3. Return the cauliflower to the mixing bowl and add the eggs, almond flour, and black pepper. Stir well to combine.
4. Scoop 1 cup of the mixture onto the prepared baking paper and form into a square. Repeat with the remaining mixture (4 slices in total)
5. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
6. Grease a skillet with ghee and melt over medium heat. While the pan heats, smear a slice of cauliflower bread with some mashed avocado, and top with another slice of cauliflower bread.
7. Add to the hot skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes longer. Repeat with the remaining bread. Serve hot.
Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Soup
500g boneless chicken breasts
4 cups chicken stock
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup white onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
Toppings: chopped cilantro, diced avocado and lime wedges
1. Turn slow cook to low heat setting and add chicken breasts, tomatoes, onion, chicken stock, chipotle sauce, cumin, smoked paprika and sea salt. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours.
2. Remove chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks. Add chicken back into the slow cooker and stir in coconut milk. Cook for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered, to reduce slightly.
3. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with toppings.
Buffalo Chicken Wings in “Peanut Sauce”
700g chicken wings
2 tablespoons almond butter
¼ cups hot pepper sauce (with no added sugar or preservatives; may use 2 tablespoons tomato paste and an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil as a milder alternative)
4 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread winds out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes.
3. Soften almond butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
4. When soft, stir in hot pepper sauce, coconut aminos, olive oil, and sea salt. If sauce gets too thick, add some hot water.
5. After 20 minutes of cooking, remove wings. Turn and brush each wing with sauce. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.
6. Turn each wing, baste with sauce, and return to oven for 10 additional minutes (or until completely cooked)
7. Turnover and baste with sauce.
8. Serve and enjoy.