What did you eat for breakfast today? A spinach omelet? A bagel? Pancakes with syrup? Or, did you skip breakfast altogether? The food choices you make and timing of your meals play a very important role in balancing blood sugar. A diet that promotes optimal blood sugar balance consists of nutrient dense meals and snacks eaten regularly throughout the day. Eating frequently promotes the burning of stored fat and helps to keep you feeling satisfied and energized.
Insulin is the hormone that responds to the food that you eat. Its role is to regulate fat metabolism and control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar (glucose) is the fuel that all cells in your body use to make energy. To best support your blood sugar levels, you want your snacks and meals to contain a combination of high quality protein, fat and carbohydrates. Examples of well-balanced snacks include celery sticks with nut butter, yogurt with nuts and berries, or hummus and red pepper strips. Whole grains, fiber, protein and fat tend to break down slowly in the digestive system and result in a gradual rise in blood sugar.
On the other hand, high glycemic index (GI) foods, such as doughnuts, potato chips, candy, cakes and cookies cause a dramatic surge in glucose levels. In response to the sudden increase in glucose, the pancreas secretes insulin to help transport the glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells. Over time, the body can lose sensitivity to insulin. When cells become insulin resistant, glucose builds up in the blood thus resulting in higher than normal levels of both glucose and insulin. This promotes increased hunger, fat accumulation, inflammation, an increase in cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, and can eventually lead to diabetes.
Stress also plays a key role in insulin resistance. Elevated cortisol levels can down-regulate insulin receptors and also set the stage for insulin resistance. High cortisol levels can increase weight around the abdomen, one of the major symptoms of insulin resistance. Stress management is a very important part of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Here are 5 tips for balancing your blood sugar levels:
1) Eat within 1 hour of waking up and then every 3-4 hours until bed. Never skip meals. And, never have coffee first thing in the morning without any food.
2) Increase your intake of low GI foods (foods that do not produce high levels of blood sugar). Examples of foods include: apples, berries, barley, quinoa, bulgur, grapefruit, legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils), nuts (almonds, walnuts, soy nuts), oatmeal (unsweetened), green peas, tomatoes, unsweetened plain yogurt. And, limit or avoid high GI foods. These foods increase carbohydrate cravings, and can increase overall appetite and lead to overeating. Examples include: candy, cookies, juices with added sugar, chips (corn and potato), foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, most breakfast cereals, sugar, sweetened soda, sweet snacks, white bread and bagels (processed flour).
3) If you are going to indulge in a high GI food, make sure you combine it with protein, fiber, healthy fat or a low GI food, to reduce its negative blood sugar impact. For example, have your chocolate with a meal rather than by itself hours later.
4) Consider taking a synergistic blood sugar support formula, such as Pathway Blood Sugar Support. This comprehensive formula contains key vitamins, minerals, herbs, and important antioxidants to naturally support healthy blood sugar balance. I recommend taking 1 capsule with each meal.
5) Exercise – aim for at least 30-60 minutes at least three times per week. Exercise increases your metabolic rate, increases lean muscle mass, improves insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar balance, and helps your body burn fat. It is also a great way to reduce your stress and tension.
Photo from here, with thanks.