The media spotlight on sugar has opened many great conversations in recent years. As a nation, we’re succumbing to so many of its effects. The UK Diabetes rate has increased by 60% in the past decade alone.
There’s always a certain level of sugar, otherwise known as glucose, circulating through your bloodstream. This is the single most essential fuel used by your body, responsible for giving sustained energy and powering every cell, tissue, organ, muscle and limb.
This is where people get confused, sugar is often spoken about negatively but then you’re told it’s the most essential fuel. It’s all about the right type of sugar and finding balance!
HOW TO STAY BALANCED
Our bodies like to keep things consistent and use a number of efficient self-regulating mechanisms to do so. The main mechanism being insulin.
The hormone insulin acts as a messenger, allowing circulating sugar to enter the cells of the body where it’s used as fuel, enabling blood sugar to return to normal.
Signs of poor blood sugar regulation include:
- Cravings, particularly for sweet food
- Low energy & fatigue
- Regular yawning
- A ‘foggy’ head
- Mood swings & irritability
- Anxiety & depression
- Poor concentration & memory
WHY DOES BLOOD SUGAR REGULATE INCORRECTLY SOMETIMES?
Carbohydrate foods, drinks and stress are by far the biggest triggers! Problems start to occur in diets based around sugary and refined foods, such as sweets, cakes, pastries, white bread, pasta and rice.
These foods rapidly release sugar into the bloodstream, resulting in sharp peaks to blood sugar levels. Regular peaks and troughs eventually take their toll, sending your body’s control mechanisms into disarray.
Reaching for a quick ‘pick me up’ in the form of a sugary snack, coffee or energy drink further compounds things. Your body may become so sensitive to changes in blood sugar that excess insulin is released, which causes blood sugar levels to crash below normal.
ANOTHER REASON TO TRY AND STAY BALANCED
Insulin also promotes fat storage! If you want to maintain weight loss, balanced blood sugar is key. Constantly elevated insulin causes insulin resistance, preventing sugar from entering cells and potentially leading to the development of adult onset diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
In fact, the long-term detrimental effects of sugar and fluctuating blood sugar levels is so far reaching that it can exert its influence on just about every system in the body. That’s everything from appetite control, hormone regulation, mental health and poor immunity, through to cardiovascular health and so much more.
6 STEPS TO BREAKING THE BLOOD SUGAR CYCLE
- Plan ahead: When our blood sugar levels plummet so do our healthy intentions and we reach for the first sugary snack in sight.
- Eat regularly: This tip goes hand in hand with the above. The minute you skip meals or go hours between them, you’ll push yourself into the blood sugar crash.
- Avoid sugar: Read those ingredients labels and watch for sugar’s many names! Beware of anything that contains 22g of sugar per 100g, that houses multiple sugars, and/or that lists sugar towards the top of the ingredients list.
- Favour whole foods: By favouring whole foods, you’ll limit the number of added and hidden sugars you’re exposed to.
- Eating good quality protein: Lean meats, fish, and unprocessed nuts, beans and pulses. Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which means less of those blood sugar dips.
- Include fibre: Fibre fills you up with all the good stuff! Eat the rainbow and aim for at least your five a day!