Elevated Blood Glucose Levels
Normally the amount of glucose in your blood is kept within a healthy range by a set of hormones. Insulin lowers blood sugar and glucagon, cortisol and adrenalin raise blood sugar if it is falling rapidly, or if it is too low.
After carbohydrates are consumed they are broken down into glucose, which is absorbed from your intestine into your bloodstream. Insulin is then released from your pancreas to push the glucose into muscle, liver or fat cells from where it can be used for energy.
If your blood glucose level is consistently elevated then it’s generally for one of two reasons. Either you are not making enough insulin, or the insulin you are making is not working properly. This can be as a result of genetic predisposition, lack of physical activity, being overweight, chronic stress and/or overloading your bloodstream with glucose over and over until your cells either become resistant to insulin, or you can no longer produce enough.
If you eat too many refined carbohydrates (white bread, white sugar, biscuits, cakes, low fibre cereals, etc) you can overload your cells with glucose. This causes a sudden peak in blood glucose which then triggers the release of extra insulin to lower your glucose levels. So you end up on a blood sugar rollercoaster with swings of high and low blood sugar and the resultant highs and lows of energy and mood. You will probably find that you are very tired by the end of the day if your blood sugar levels are constantly rising and dipping.
To avoid spiking your blood sugar, combine protein or healthy fat with carbohydrate at meal times. For example, meat and vegetables with potato or other starchy vegetables. For a snack try natural peanut butter with low fat crackers. Instead fruit on its own, add low fat yoghurt or nuts. By combining protein and/or fat and fibre with carbohydrates you will slow down the rate at which your blood sugar rises after a meal.
Lentils, chickpeas and dried beans, are excellent sources of fibre and low GI carbohydrates. Use them in soups, casseroles and vegetarian dishes.
Add oat bran to your breakfast. The beta-glucan in oat bran helps reduce blood sugar spiking. It is a good soluble fibre and you can either sprinkle it over your cereal or make porridge with it. Or you can use ½ and ½ rolled oats and oatbran for your porridge base.
Another tip is to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. Exercise has the effect of making cells more sensitive to insulin and it is then able to work more effectively. As this effect only lasts for 24 hours, regular exercise is required.
If you are overweight, make it a goal to lose weight.
Cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar by mimicking insulin. Half a teaspoon a day is the recommended amount, or it is available as a supplement.
Chromium, a mineral, is required for insulin to work properly. If you are low in this mineral, supplementing with it may help improve blood sugar control.
For fat loss and sustained energy it is important to endeavour to keep blood glucose and insulin levels steady throughout the day. The suggestions above may help with this.
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