Why Is It So Important to Balance Your Blood Sugar?
In a nut shell, keeping your blood sugar balanced is important for physical health, sustained energy levels, positive and stable emotions, healthy weight maintenance and zest for life! Read on and I’ll tell you more about why it is so important to balance your blood sugar.
What is meant by blood sugar balance?
The term blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose in your blood. The level of glucose in the blood is carefully controlled by hormones in order to minimise sharp rises and falls.
When we eat carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables, they get broken down into glucose, which is fuel for the body and brain.
As blood sugar rises, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy and storage, thus lowering blood sugar levels.
The food choices that you make and timing of your meals play a very important role in blood sugar balance.
Key factors affecting blood glucose
- Lack of exercise
What Happens If You Don’t Balance Your Blood Sugar levels?
- An imbalance in your blood sugar levels affects your hormones, weight and mood. If blood sugar rises too rapidly, the body can release too much insulin. This causes the blood sugar to swing to low again, making us feel tired, grumpy and hungry again. This is sometimes referred to as the blood sugar rollercoaster.
- If your blood sugar gets too low you may crave sweet things and be tempted to reach out for unhealthy foods.
- If your diet is continually high in refined carbohydrates, your pancreas has to work hard to produce enough insulin. In the long term the pancreas can become exhausted and will stop producing enough insulin, leading to a condition called insulin resistance.
- Insulin resistance can lead to permanently high blood sugar levels and more insulin being released. The excess insulin triggers the body to convert surplus glucose into fat, particularly around the abdomen. This increases weight gain and can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes and greater risk of heart disease.
- Eat complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats, rye bread, beans and lentils. These foods will take longer for the body to break down, providing a slow, sustained release of energy.
- Regular meals help if you have a tendency to have fluctuations in your energy levels. Choose to have 3 smaller meals and 2 snacks each day. This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Balanced meals combining complex carbohydrates with high quality protein and good essential fats, helps to provide a sustained energy release and keeps you fuller for longer.
- Plenty of fibre such as legumes, beans, flax seeds, chia seeds, oats, hemp seeds and nuts to promote satiety, slow digestion and help you crave less sugar.
- Choose low glycaemic foods which release glucose at a slower rate because they take longer to break down in the intestine. Examples include sweet potatoes, green apples, berries, beans and oats.
- Aim for two litres of water a day. For variety flavour your water with slices or lemon or ginger and drink herbal teas.
- Exercise for 30-60 minutes, three times per week. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, balances blood sugar levels and helps your body burn fat. It is also a great way to reduce stress and tension.
The Limit or Avoid
- Refined carbohydrates and sugars such as white rice, white bread and white pasta. These are quickly broken down, providing a fast release of glucose into the blood with the potential for a drop of energy to follow.
- Stimulants such as coffee, tea and fizzy drinks. Caffeine can cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar. Try herbal teas, dandelion, chicory or mushroom coffee.
- Alcohol. Keep to a minimum as it disrupts blood sugar levels and can contribute to high cholesterol and weight gain.
- Skipping meals can cause a big drop in blood sugar levels, which can lead to food cravings. Always eat breakfast as blood sugar levels fall during the night. Try porridge with fruit and nuts or wholegrain bread with poached eggs.
- Artificial sweeteners. They don’t contain glucose but it has been argued that they may still affect your blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain.
- High glycaemic foods these foods can increase carbohydrate craving, overall appetite and lead to overeating. Example include white bread, cakes and packed breakfast cereals.
- Mental and emotional stressors. Long term stress may result in adrenal fatigue which effects blood sugar levels.