Healing Your Blood Sugar Roller Coaster With 3 Steps
The statistics are staggering when it comes to blood sugar issues. For example, more than 1 in 3 Americans have pre-diabetes and over 1 in 10 develop diabetes according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Blood sugar issues are often associated with high inflammation, weight gain, sleep issues, hormonal imbalances and dementia (especially Alzheimer’s disease).
The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable with lifestyle and diet changes. Since this disease tends to develop over many years, even decades, let me explain what happens in our bodies before we even get an official diagnosis.
What is blood sugar?
Blood sugar is the casual term for the medical term blood glucose. When we eat foods high in carbs it becomes glucose in our blood. As the glucose levels rise, the insulin gets signaled to be produced in the pancreas.
The blood glucose and insulin then travel to the cell and the insulin acts as a key to allow the blood glucose to be used by the cell.
If the foods that you ate were too refined and high in carbs, it creates a huge spike in blood sugar and over time leads to insulin resistance. This is a gradual process, over years usually. Eventually we get into the range of pre-diabetes and if we continue the same way, we develop diabetes.
In diabetes, the blood sugar is too high and it becomes dangerous. So then typically medication is needed to prevent further damage. Even at that point, if you are willing to make changes, you can reverse your blood sugar problem.
What foods are high in carbs?
Foods that raise your blood sugar don’t only refer to foods that are actually sweet to taste like breakfast cereals, cookies, ice-cream, candy, sweetened drinks, but also foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes, beans and rice.
When we eat a meal, as the food reaches the stomach and then the intestines, foods high in carbs quickly convert to blood sugar. Within 45 to 90 minutes your blood sugar will reach a peak, while the insulin goes up to help you put this newly converted blood sugar into your cells.
If you eat a healthy, low carb meal, your blood sugar won’t peak more than 140 mg/dL. However, if it peaks higher than this you have a higher chance to eventually develop pre-diabetes and diabetes.
How to test your blood sugar levels
The first step you can take to test and see if you have healthy blood sugar levels is the following three tests. Fasting blood glucose should be between 70 and 90 mg/dL. HbA1c looks at your blood sugar over the previous 3 months. Healthy individuals have a HbA1c of less than 5.4%. Lastly, ask your doctor to test your insulin as well, though the better test is a 2-hour insulin challenge test.
The best way to see how the food you eat affects your blood sugar in real time is using a continuous blood glucose monitor for several weeks. These are available online (through companies that offer this to help with optimizing your health, not for diabetes care) or you can ask your medical doctor to prescribe one. I have done this myself and it has changed the way I look at food (even though I don’t have pre-diabetes or diabetes).
3 steps to balance your blood sugar
The most well known diet to help balance your blood sugar levels is the keto diet. The keto diet is low in carbs and quite high in healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado (whole or oil), grass fed butter and ghee.
This diet creates an environment of low stable blood sugar levels while your body uses fat to both make energy and lower the inflammation in your body.
Before even attempting such diet (which should be introduced gradually and with the help of a practitioner) here are three steps that you can take right away:
- Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter protein and one quarter carbs (for example whole grain unprocessed carbs). Add fat either in the cooking process or have a side, such as a half an avocado. Eating lots of vegetables will fill you up and give you wonderful nutrients, while the protein will help stabilize how the carbs are being processed in your body. The fiber from the whole unprocessed carbs and the healthy fat also help slow down the assimilation of sugar to allow the insulin to do its job well.
- Eat your sweets in the form of fruit. But not all fruit works well when trying to heal your blood sugar issues. Eat instead low glycemic fruits such as strawberries, green apples, plums, and cherries. Eat them in small quantities and with protein or fat. A good example is eating a green apple with two tablespoons of almond or sunflower butter.
- Take a supplement that gives you all the nutrients to support blood sugar balances. The Wellness Essential Healthy Balance from Metagenics is one of the formulas that when taken over several months in combination with diet changes can be very helpful.
These are just a few steps to get you started on achieving better blood sugar balance. I am here to help if you have questions.