Blood sugar is also called blood glucose. It’s the amount of sugar in your blood that’s taken from food to give you energy.
Blood sugar levels spike when you eat and should settle down with an hour. They are often at their lowest in the morning, which is why we feel lethargic and rubbish until breakfast.
Know Your High Blood Sugar from Your Low Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels are becoming an increasing problem across the world. Sugary foods are playing havoc with our glucose, and it’s not good news.
High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. It’s when blood has too much sugar and not enough insulin to convert it into energy. It’s caused by eating too much and dehydration. If you have diabetes, high blood sugar can be caused by illness and stress too.
The symptoms are frequent urination, nausea, drowsiness, hunger and thirst, unexplained weight loss, and blurred vision.
Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, is when the body doesn’t have enough sugar.
It’s caused by eating too little, or if you are diabetic, stress, exercise, and illness can cause a slump.
The symptoms include fast heartbeat, shaking, anxiety, sweating, and dizziness. Hypoglycemia can also lead to weight gain as you overeat or eat the wrong things, trying to achieve blood sugar balance.
Poor Blood Sugar Can Cause Real Damage
We need to keep blood sugar levels stable because when they are elevated over a long period of time, the blood vessels are damaged and the body stops producing insulin.
Insulin is an essential hormone that unlocks glucose and turns it into energy. Without insulin, glucose can’t be processed, and excess sugar builds up in the bloodstream. This life-altering illness is called diabetes and it can’t be cured.
If you’re feeling lethargic, irritable, your weight is up and down, you have cravings, and can’t concentrate or sleep, you could be experiencing a blood sugar imbalance or pre-diabetes.
Controlling your diet and keeping fit is the best way to keep your blood sugar levels stable and in the healthy range.
Blood Sugar Balance: 12 Things You Get Wrong
Eating for optimized blood sugar balance is not about avoiding cakes forever. It simply means eating a healthy, balanced diet with enough fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Here are 12 ways people get it wrong:
1. Eating Loads of Fruit
Fruit is healthy, right?
Yes, but fruit contains fructose, which is a sugar, and this sugar directly affects you by swiftly entering the bloodstream and spiking blood sugar levels.
You should eat fruit because it contains vitamins, but don’t gorge on it all day long—and keep an eye on the amount of fruit juice you drink.
2. Swapping out Sugar for Sweeteners
Sugar rots your teeth and can lead to obesity and diabetes, but the alternative “good sugar” sweeteners are not much better than the “bad sugar.”
Artificial sweeteners are often high in fructose and they are overprocessed, which can lead to blood sugar spikes and inflammation.
3. Avoiding Fats
Everything in moderation is the key to blood sugar balance, and healthy fats are essential to your body’s basic building blocks.
Healthy fats improve your cardiovascular health and keep you feeling full—which means you won’t be tempted to snack and spike your blood sugar.
4. Eating All the Time
Eating without a break—even if it’s small amounts of healthy food—doesn’t give your body time to process the food.
This keeps blood sugar levels high when they should naturally spike and fall at key mealtimes.
5. Sleeping Too Little
Sleep is an essential way to manage blood sugar levels.
It keeps your body and mind in tip-top shape and keeps the hunger hormone ghrelin at bay.
Ghrelin makes you feel hungry and leads to snacking. We’ve all suffered from this gremlin at some point. Get more sleep!
6. A Grainy Issue
Grains are good fiber and a healthy way to feel full, but there’s a trend toward eating gluten-free.
Gluten-free grains or whole-sprouted grains contain amylase sugars that spike blood sugar and may lead to inflammation.
7. Eating Starchy Vegetables
Like fruit, vegetables are an essential part of the human diet.
They protect against disease and boost the immune system; however, starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash give your body a huge boost of carbohydrate that is quickly converted to glucose.
This has led to people totally avoiding carbohydrates that do a great job of providing nutrients and energy.
So, some starchy vegetables are important, but eating leafy greens, mushrooms, and cruciferous veggies should form the majority. As a general rule, try to eat more of the vegetables that grow above the ground and fewer of those that grow below.
8. Beans and More Beans
Bean and legumes are full of fiber, but if you’re having issues with blood sugar, they can add too much starch to your diet. Starch is quickly converted into sugar, leading to a big spike in the blood.
9. Only Eating for Blood Sugar
Picking out certain foods to eat to support your quest for stable blood sugar balance can exacerbate the problem.
We need to eat all of the main food groups to stay healthy. So don’t ignore carbohydrates and fruit; they need to be included in sensible amounts, otherwise, you’ll develop bowel issues and a weak immune system.
10. Skipping Meals
No food equals no spike in blood sugar, right?
You need food to keep stable blood sugar, so eat regular meals. Dipping too low on blood sugar can lead to ill health too.
11. Not Getting Enough Exercise
It’s difficult to find the time to exercise, but if you want to manage your blood sugar properly, it’s important.
Exercise lowers blood sugar and makes you feel good. It can cut down on cravings, too, because exercise releases feel-good hormones.
12. Not Drinking Water
Dehydration leads to headaches, constipation, and a general feeling of ill health.
It can also influence your blood sugar levels because water is used to create the essential hormones and processes that keep our bodies functioning well.
What You Should Be Eating for Blood Sugar Balance
A diet to achieve blood sugar balance is no different from a regular diet; you just have to eat healthy amounts of all the main food groups regularly.
Foods that cause the most havoc with blood sugar are highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice and pasta, sugary soda drinks, and sweets.
Snacking on sweet foods can leave you in that sugar-craving vortex. You just want more to boost your blood sugar and feel that spike in energy. But it’s not good for your health; it can damage your insulin levels and lead to type 2 diabetes.
A balanced, healthy diet is the best option, but there are some superfoods that can have a direct effect on blood sugar.
- Coconuts and other healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and eggs may improve insulin sensitivity and balance blood sugar.
- Turmeric and cinnamon are chock full of health benefits because the compounds are antioxidant-rich and cited as a way to beat inflammation. They also improve insulin sensitivity, helping to effectively move glucose from the blood.
- Coffee and green tea can help stabilize blood sugar, but only if it’s drunk without added sugar. Both drinks are also thought to protect against a host of diseases, including cancer, inflammation, and heart disease.
- Apple cider vinegar, limes, and lemons are cited as great health boosters that fight diseases from arthritis to cancer, and they may also balance blood sugar with their acetic acids.
- The Mediterranean diet is thought to lead to a longer lifespan, largely because of its olive oil content. Olives protect against inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and are full of antioxidants. Grass-fed butter may have the same effect.
Manage Your Blood Sugar for Better Health
The best way to protect yourself against diabetes and chronic life-altering diseases associated with a blood sugar imbalance is to eat a well-balanced diet with all the food groups in moderation.
Avoid sweets and sugary snacks as well as refined foods; get plenty of sleep; exercise; and drink lots of water. You will achieve blood sugar balance in no time.