Are you riding the blood sugar roller coaster?
- Crave sweets A LOT?
- Depend on coffee for energy?
- Get “hangry” or irritable when meals are missed or delayed?
- Feel light-headed, get shaky or the jitters, have brain fog if meals are missed or delayed?
If yes, then your blood sugar levels are likely imbalanced — going through a series of unhealthy spikes and crashes.
How exactly do blood sugar levels get imbalanced?
Whenever the body detects elevated blood sugar levels — whether from eating a candy bar or any other carbohydrate-rich food/meal, such as potatoes — the pancreas is signaled to release insulin, the hormone in charge of shuttling glucose into cells to be used as energy, which brings blood sugar back levels back down. This is a natural and necessary process.
What is unnatural, however, is the excessive amount of sugar and carbohydrates the average person consumes nowadays. So when we eat a sugar/carb-rich food/meal as is typical of the modern diet, blood glucose levels spike to unhealthy levels. Naturally, the body responds by releasing insulin. Only instead of blood sugar levels returning to normal, they crash, falling below normal — “hanger” as well as fatigue, brain fog, and jitters can result. This alarms the body, which wants to get blood sugar levels back up again. And how can it most quickly do so? With another sugar/carb-rich food/meal, of course! And so the cycle of imbalance begins.
Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is absolutely critical for us all — not just diabetics.
The extreme blood sugar highs and lows that cause blood sugar dysregulation not only increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but they also suppress the immune system, weaken the vascular system, slow metabolism, inhibit the ability to lose weight, and cause a host of cognitive issues from lethargy to impaired memory.
6 Simple Tips to Keep Blood Sugar Levels Steady
1. Eat fat and protein with each meal
This is the absolute most important tip — the key to balanced blood sugar levels. Because protein and fat are digested more slowly and so they slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This ensures your body gets the steady stream of sugar into the blood on which it thrives. Protein and fat also keep us feeling fuller longer, which helps us overcome sugar cravings.
2. Start the day with a breakfast high in healthy fat and protein
Piggybacking off of tip #1… it’s ESPECIALLY important to keep blood sugar levels steady in the morning with a breakfast high in protein and healthy fat. Because maintaining balanced blood sugar levels in the morning will keep them steady through to lunch without the snack-attack or need for coffee.
And eating breakfast in itself is important for blood sugar regulation. When you skip out on breakfast, your body produces the stress hormones cortisol, which in turn elevates blood sugar levels.
3. Focus on fruits and vegetables as the primary source of carbohydrates
Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which slows down carbohydrate digestion and so helps prevent a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Sugar and simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, are quickly digested and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels — the exact spike we want to avoid.
4. Spice up your life with cinnamon!
A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food that concluded that cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose by a 3-5%. This is a modest amount, but it is still very interesting and can be helpful!
But don’t go too crazy with this spice — cinnamon contains coumarin, which can damage the liver when consumed in excessive amounts. According to the daily tolerable intake set by the European Food Safety Authority, the limit for an adult who is sensitive to coumarin is about a teaspoon a day. But if you have liver issues, it’s best to only use cinnamon sparsely.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
While this is an important tip for good health generally, it especially supports blood sugar regulation.
Lack of sleep drastically reduces glucose tolerance. This makes it more difficult for cells to uptake glucose, causing elevated blood sugar levels. This connection is so significant that researchers found that “less than 1 week of sleep restriction can result in a prediabetic state in young, healthy subjects.” (Wow!)
6. Exercise regularly
Like tip #5, this is another general health tip that also happens to have a particular impact on blood sugar levels.
Our muscles use more glucose, the sugar in your blood stream. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in your body work better. You’ll get these benefits for hours after your walk or workout.
But be careful not to overdo it! Strenuous exercise can cause the body to make stress hormones, which can actually lead to an increase in blood sugar.
Are you still riding the blood sugar roller coaster? If you’ve successfully gotten off, do you have any tips to share?
Please let us know in the comments below!