It is becoming increasingly obvious that blood sugar imbalances are a major contributor in many health problems we face as a society. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we pay attention to our nutrition and lifestyle as both have an impact on our blood sugar balance.
Here is what happens when our blood sugar balance is working for us, rather than against us. When we consume healthy sources of carbohydrates (e.g. vegetables, fruits) with ample amounts of protein (e.g. pulses, lentils, grass-fed meat, wild fish, eggs, nuts and seeds) and good fat (e.g. butter, avocado, extra virgin olive / coconut / avocado oil) the glucose from the meal enters our blood stream slowly and the pancreas responds by releasing a measured amount of insulin. Then insulin shuttles the ‘right’ amount of glucose into our cells, which is used for energy. There is no excess insulin coursing through our blood stream promoting inflammation and we avoid ‘sugar highs’ and ‘sugar lows’. We can easily go without any food for three hours or more and feel good.
Whenever we eat a source of carbohydrates it should be accompanied by a good quality fat and protein as both play an important role in keeping us satiated. Skip anything that requires a factory to produce it, such as corn oil, soyabean oil, safflower oil, margarine, sunflower oil etc. Fat slows the absorption of glucose into the blood stream and it also keeps us fuller for longer, keeping those sugar cravings at bay. Additionally, the presence of fat in a meal signals the gallbladder to release bile, which aids the digestion of fats.
Many of us might have had a stint on a low-fat diet at some point in our lives due to the fear of fat supposedly being the villain in the heart health equation. It was Ancel Keys who propagated the notion of saturated fat being ‘the bad guy’ with the Seven Countries Study. Most of us realize that, in general, health challenges are not due to one thing. It is always about the context and other contributing factors – and, therefore a multi-pronged approach to recalibrating or supporting our health is perhaps a better option to tackling such issues.
Dissemination of inaccurate information seems to have become the norm in the realm of health & wellbeing and sadly many of us take things at face value without doing our own research and not verifying the source of information that ‘governs’ our health choices. So, I always encourage my clients to do their ‘due diligence’ before following a certain protocol or incorporating any changes in their diet and lifestyle.
How often have you heard: “Eat small, frequent meals to balance your blood sugar?” This is still a topic of debate. Many researchers such as Sarah Ballantyne, who wrote the Paleo Approach, believe that it’s best to transition to larger less frequent meals to help regulate our hunger hormones. If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, inflammation or compromised digestion it may be necessary that you transition slowly to your new eating regime. A good starting point is three solid meals a day if you’re used to snacking.
Don’t skip your breakfast unless you’re a seasoned ‘intermittent fasting’ person. Namely, if we skip breakfast the body increases the production of stress hormones and starts to break down muscle! (not fat) to use for energy.
Some healthy breakfast ides:
A couple of eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled or poached) with some sauteed vegetables or avocado on the side
Protein-rich smoothie of your choice (ideally home-made)
Porridge with nuts, seeds and 1tbsp of coconut oil
Grain-free banana bread with tahini or nut butter on the side
Sourdough toast with smoked salmon, rocket, avocado and olives.
Last but not the least, exercise is an important factor when it comes to a ‘healthy’ blood sugar balance because it improves insulin sensitivity. It’s best to alternate between some cardio interval training (e.g. running, cycling, jogging, speed walking etc.) and weight bearing exercise (e.g. yoga, weight lifting, pilates etc.). Cardio interval training can help you burn up more body fat than traditional cardio and can naturally increase insulin sensitivity. Weight bearing exercise helps you build and maintain muscle, which aids sugar metabolism. All in all, exercise is vitally important if you want to keep your blood sugar balanced.
In health, Jana :)