When you think about blood sugar, I’m sure one of the first things you think about is diabetes. Am I right? Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine. Diabetes can be genetic, but it can also be related to eating and lifestyle habits. Some foods that are high in sugar, unhealthy fats and cholesterol and alcohol have been linked to diabetes.
Diabetics have to track their blood sugar levels throughout the day and avoid dangerous spikes or dips if they want to avoid complications from this disease. If your blood glucose level is too high it is called hyperglycemia, which means that you have high blood sugar. This means that your body is working at a much slower rate, which causes your body to store less energy which leads to feeling tired and lethargic. High blood sugar also makes your insulin work much harder to handle the sugar in your blood to a point that your body may not be receptive to it anymore. When insulin cannot properly handle the sugar in your blood, it can cause damage to cells inside your body. These cells are responsible for insulin resistance.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal. Because glucose is your body’s main energy source, low blood sugar can be life-threatening. For people with diabetes, hypoglycemia requires immediate attention. People without diabetes can suffer from hypoglycemia too. In these cases, nutrition and lifestyle modifications can help prevent it from happening.
To naturally balance your blood sugar, you need to make certain changes in your diet as well as your lifestyle. There are three factors to consider:
- What you eat
- When you eat
- How you eat
A good step is to focus on eating whole foods that are as close to how they come from the Earth as possible. This shift alone can make a huge impact! Quit eating processed foods full of additives and sugars and try to eat at home from home-cooked meals more often. Watch your intake of processed carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, other desserts, bread, and pasta as they spike your insulin and can lead to insulin resistance.
Some people need to eat 3 meals a day, others feel better with 3 meals and 2 snacks, while some people feel best following an intermittent fasting schedule to give their digestive system the chance to rest and their metabolism a chance to fuel from stored fat.
How you eat is important too! Chewing properly and slowing down and sitting when you eat can set you up for good digestion. You may be eating healthy food but if your body cannot digest or absorb the nutrients properly then you won’t feel great!
Ultimately, if you eat whole foods, figure out what timing works best for your body and optimize digestion, you should be able to control and balance your blood sugar.