How to balance blood sugar
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
WHY KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR BALANCED?
Prevent insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when cells fail to respond to insulin, which results in blood glucose levels rising above normal levels. This can cause the ovaries to make excess androgen hormones, which are converted into oestrogen, increasing the level of this hormone above normal levels, affecting ovulation
Prevent inflammation – Increased inflammation can be a huge source of chemical stress in the body. Think of it like a fire going on inside your system. When there is a fire, the last thing you have resources for is to get pregnant
Reduce sugar cravings, which can affect your mood and energy levels throughout the day
WHAT CAUSES SUGAR CRAVINGS?
Food produce containing lots of sugar usually don’t contain lots of fibre, fat or protein. Fibre, fat and protein slow down sugar absorption, so when those nutrients aren’t present, your blood sugar shoots up really fast, like to the top of a roller coaster.
At the top of this roller coaster, your brain is alerted. Your brain uses about 50% of your blood sugar at any given time, so any drastic rise or fall in your blood sugar levels cause your brain to flip out. So, when you’re blood sugar spikes up, your brain and your body aren’t happy – to your body, it’s an emergency.
Your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin that allows the body to use sugar from the carbohydrates you eat for energy, helping to bring your blood sugar back down. When insulin is sent out, it doesn’t just bring your blood sugar back down into balance, there’s often too much insulin secreted, and your blood sugar dips way down. And that’s the blood sugar crash you feel a after the sugar high – that shaky, spaced out, uncomfortable feeling. Now your body craves more sugar. When you eat the sugar again, your blood sugar goes up – back to the top of the roller coaster.
HOW TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Try to have protein with every meal as it will help to stabilise your blood sugar. E.g. eggs, nuts and beans.
These release sugar slowly into the blood, keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable. E.g. wholegrains, beans and lentils.
Although the body can’t digest it, it helps to control blood sugar and slow down carbohydrate metabolism. E.g. oatmeal, banana and beans.
Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Drink a glass of water, wait five minutes and see if you still have the craving.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Your tongue has sweet taste buds that demand to be satisfied, so don’t hold out on them. Add naturally sweet foods and spices to your diet. E.g. squash, berries and cinnamon. Cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
If you’re constantly tired, your body is going to look for energy, usually in the form of sugar or caffeine. Power down earlier than usual (even if it’s just 15 minutes) and notice if your cravings are reduced. When you’re sleep deprived, your cortisol levels rise, which mimics the stress of the blood sugar roller coaster. Lack of sleep also increases the hunger hormone ghrelin. It’s produced mainly by your stomach and acts on your brain’s pleasure centres, making you reach for that second (or 10th) biscuit, because you remember how good it tasted.
Sniff out low-fat and fat-free
The food industry often replaces fats with stack loads of sugar to mask the avour. Choose full-fat.
Physical exercise has a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, making your insulin more efficient. It also helps you to release stress and blow off steam.
Create new post-meal rituals
If you’re a dessert after your meal type of person, think about healthy post-meal options E.g. yoghurt with a few berries.
Low Glycaemic Index (GI)
GI ranks carbohydrate-containing food from 0-100 based on how quickly and how much they raise your blood sugar levels after eating.
High GI food are digested and absorbed quickly causing blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, sapping you of energy. This crash comes about from a large surge in the hormone insulin, which converts sugar from the carbohydrates you eat into energy.
Low GI food are digested and absorbed slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, fuelling your body with sustained energy. Low GI foods help to improve symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
High GI= 70-100
E.g. Baked sweet potato, watermelon and white bread
Medium GI= 56-69
E.g. Beetroot, pineapple and couscous
Low GI= 0-55
E.g. Boiled sweet potato, broccoli and sourdough bread
Some foods may have a high GI value, but as they contain low carbohydrate, they have little impact on your blood sugar levels. This is where it is useful to calculate the Glycaemic Load (GL), as it takes into account the amount of carbohydrate the food contains with how quickly it raises your blood sugar levels. Work out GI and GL values of your food at www.glycemicindex.com