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Balancing Blood Sugar Daily

Posted in: Energy and Fatigue    Lifestyle counseling    Nutrition    Weight loss    

A lack of blood sugar balance can lead to foggy thinking, weight changes, cardiovascular health concerns, and a host of other “modern” symptoms and diseases.  Glucose is the primary fuel for most of the cells in our body, and is the preferred fuel for the brain (only during starvation can the brain be persuaded to use ketones, the by-products of fat breakdown, for energy).  However, blood sugar levels that are too high, or that oscillate wildly throughout the day can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health and have been linked to such diseases as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer.  Help your body to be the best it can be by regulating your blood sugar throughout the day.  See www.glycemicindex.com for a complete list of foods and their glycemic index.

Tips for blood sugar maintenance

  • Don’t assume that you need food just because you feel hungry; you may be simply thirsty or bored.  Try having a glass of water at the onset of hunger and reevaluate the need for food 10-20 minutes later.
  • Eat every 3-4 hours even if it is just a small, balanced snack.
  • Ensure that every meal or snack contains low-glycemic index carbohydrates, good quality fat, and good quality protein.
  • Avoid refined, processed or packaged foods.

Good carbs

  • Fresh fruit, but use tropical fruits in moderation as they are high on the GI.
  • Vegetables! Fresh or frozen, steamed or raw, a variety of vegetables should be the cornerstone of your diet and ideally factor in every snack and meal.  They are high in nutrients, fibre and water and have minimal impact on blood sugar.  Aim to “eat the rainbow” everyday for maximum health.
  • Whole grains have the germ and bran intact and so provide more nutrients and fibre than their refined counterparts.  Again, variety is the spice of life so try to expand your grain repetoire to include quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat/kasha.  Avoiding grains entirely can be a useful technique for making the greatest strides in the quest to balance blood sugar.
  • Bad carbs include sugars and flours, both of which are the result of excess food processing, and cause spikes of both glucose and insulin in the body which have been linked to early mortality.

Good fats

  • Fats are easily damaged by heat, light and oxygen making proper processing and storage of fatty foods essential for long-term health.
  • Cold water fish are high in the anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils.  Refer to www.seafoodwatch.org to make the best choices for both your body and the earth.
  • Raw nuts and seeds contain good fats as well as protein and fibre.
  • Avocados and olives are naturally high in mono-unsaturated fat.
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, flax oil that are expeller-pressed are best.

Bad fats include vegetable oils that have been extracted with solvents or heat, or bleached.  If it is sold in a clear, plastic bottle at room temperature then it is worth avoiding.  These fats are a common ingredient in mayonnaise, crackers, cakes, and other prepared and processed foods.

Good protein

  • Animal proteins (meat, dairy, eggs) are best when they are from grass-fed, organically raised, or wild animals to minimize toxins and to improve the quality of the fat content.
  • Fish and seafood; again, www.seafoodwatch.org is an excellent reference for seafoods.
  • Nuts and seeds, and their butters.  Nut butters are often made from roasted nuts which is not ideal (see fat section above) but they are a convenient and tasty protein source.
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas all contain a balance of protein and carbohydrates.  Soak overnight before cooking to improve their digestability.
  • Protein powders from whey, soy, rice or hemp are easy ways to add good quality protein to any meal or snack.

Bad protein sources include processed meats such as luncheon/deli meats and hot dogs.

Focus on good quality foods on a day to day basis to support a long life with minimal health concerns, and save processed foods as treats.  Remember that it’s what you do most of the time that has the biggest effect on your health and your life.