Blood Sugar Balance
Blood Sugar Balance Basics
You probably already know that what you eat directly affects your blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are variable depending on what we put into our body and how it effects us. It’s a pretty simple formula: The more sugar you eat, whether it is in the form of carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, sugar, or fruit, the more likely your blood sugar is to be elevated. Every body is bio-individual and blood sugar levels will be variable from person to person. When you eat a food high in carbohydrates, especially without much fiber or fat, that food is quickly converted into glucose in your bloodstream, triggering the release of insulin to take the sugar out of your blood and send it to where you can use it, like in your muscles, or in short-term storage in your liver. But you only need so much glucose and if you eat a lot of sugar-rich and carb-rich foods all the time, your insulin may have trouble keeping up and your blood sugar may stay too high for too long. This puts you on the path to diabetes and other metabolic health problems.
HOW IS BLOOD SUGAR REGULATED IN THE BODY?
Blood sugar regulation is one of the many automatic functions, that out body preforms. Blood sugar balance is maintained by your hormones. This balance ensures that the body has enough energy available when you need it, and it’s primarily maintained by hormones: insulin and glucagon.
These hormones are made in and released from the pancreas, insulin lowers blood sugar by instructing cells throughout the body to take in glucose (sugar). As glucose enters the cells to be used as energy or stored as glycogen, there is less left in the blood.
Glucagon makes blood sugar rise. When blood sugar levels are too low, typically several hours after you eat, the pancreas releases glucagon. Glucagon instructs the liver and muscles to turn stored glycogen back into glucose and release it into the bloodstream.
HOW DOES BLOOD SUGAR EFFECT YOUR
APPETITE AND METABOLISM?
Blood sugar effects both appetite and metabolism. This happens in the hours after a meal, blood sugar rises as you digest the food and then it falls back down again as your body uses that energy. How high your blood sugar spikes, how far it dips back down and how long that whole process takes depends on several factors, including your individual biology, what you’ve eaten, and your activity levels. In general, the higher and faster your blood sugar spikes, the lower and faster it’ll drop back down. When blood sugar swings quickly to the low end of the normal range, it triggers a hormone response that leads to increased appetite and feelings of hunger, which may include sugar cravings. It may slow down your metabolism, too.
Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance
Individuals who experience blood sugar imbalances experience fatigue, irritability, weakness, blurred vision, headaches, frequent urination, and increased thirst. These signs are your body’s way of telling you that your blood sugar levels are not within the normal range.
If more than one of these is true for you, I suggest getting your blood sugar levels checked. You can order at home tests or visit your local health practitioner.
The Microbiome’s Link To Blood Sugar Levels
A reason why you may be experiencing blood sugar imbalance may be because Your microbiome is imbalanced.
Your gut controls almost all aspects of your health, including your blood sugar. Your microbiome’s nutritional needs are, perhaps surprisingly, similar to yours. Many of the same foods that are good for you help to increase the beneficial microbes in your microbiome, while many of the same foods that spike blood sugar also have a harmful effect on your microbiome. Because of the link between these two systems, focusing on healing your gut and optimizing your microbiome should also help to rebalance your blood sugar.
Daily Habits for Healthy Blood Sugar
1. FILL UP ON FOODS THAT HAVE A LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX
The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how food affects our blood sugar. It’s based on how fast the body breaks any carbohydrate-containing food down into glucose. Higher numbers (from about seventy to one hundred) indicate that a food will cause a faster increase in blood sugar levels, while lower ones (under fifty) represent foods that cause a more gradual rise and typically a softer fall.
2. REDUCE REFINED SUGARS IN YOUR DAILY DIET
By cutting down on foods made with refined sugars, you avoid peaks and crashes in your blood sugar levels. This can be a good habit to get into if you’re trying to keep your blood sugar in check.
3. SEEK SOURCES OF CHROMIUM AND MAGNESIUM
Magnesium and chromium does wonders for blood sugar balance. You can access magnesium from greens, avocados, dried legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu. Most fruits and vegetables are good sources of chromium, but you’ll find especially high quantities in broccoli, green beans, and nutritional yeast.
4. LOAD UP ON FIBER
High-fiber foods, especially those packed with soluble fiber, have been shown to help keep blood sugar balanced. You should be able to get enough by eating a diet rich in plant-based foods. Fibre also maintains a healthy gut and keeps us satiated for longer.
5. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Reducing stress is vital to keep blood sugar levels balanced. This is because in a stressful situation, your body prepares to react to a perceived threat by dropping insulin levels and ramping up stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol, all of which increase blood sugar. By keeping stress at bay, you avoid hormonal release and keep the body as close to homeostasis as possible.
6. PRIORITISE SLEEP
Sleep is the time where are body can rest, repair and come back to equilibrium. One large study showed that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are much more likely to have reduced insulin sensitivity, meaning their cells aren’t as able to take up sugar out of the blood. By sleeping enough, you are insuring a healthy foundation for blood sugar to be at bay during the day.
7. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Moving your body requires energy, which usually means your cells have to use the sugars available in your bloodstream (thereby decreasing blood sugar). Get active, especially after a blood sugar spike.
8. STAY HYDRATED
Hydration is a foundational pilar of total body balance. Low water intake is associated with high blood sugar risk. Drinking plenty of water and eating hydrating foods will help keep your blood hydrated and keep that risk low.
This post was written by Amelia Crossley