Balance Your Blood Sugar With Food
Keeping blood sugar balanced is important – it plays a role in energy, emotions, cognitive function and more. In fact, you may already be able to feel when you experience spikes or drops in your blood sugar. However, few recognize its effects on a daily basis. Today we will talk about what blood sugar actually is, why staying balanced is important, and how you can keep your blood sugar stable.
What Is Blood Sugar?
Sugar, or glucose, is the body’s main source of energy. The term “blood sugar” refers to the amount of energy (sugar) present in our bloodstream at one set time. Sugar is produced when we break down any form of carbohydrate. Whether it is a carrot, a piece of chocolate cake, or a bowl of oatmeal, those carbs are absorbed into our bloodstream. Immediately or eventually, carbohydrates are used as a source of energy.
Why Is Regulating Your Blood Sugar Important?
You want to avoid those dramatic fluctuations as much as possible. This helps prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. In the short term, staying balanced is equally important because it can improve your energy, balance hormones, and stabilize your mood.
Symptoms of High and Low Blood Sugar
When a person’s blood sugar gets low, they may experience hypoglycemia, which can be characterized by:
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of coordination
When sugar levels are too high, the person may experience hyperglycemia, which can be characterized by:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
How to Balance Blood Sugar Through Nutrition
Much of this can be minimized – if not avoided – with some changes in nutrition habits. Here are three ways to balance blood sugar with food:
- Choose complex forms of carbohydrates, rather than processed or refined ones. For example, pick low-glycemic fruit (berries), beans, sweet potatoes, squash, oats, brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat flour over processed white breads, flours and sugar.
- Add in fiber. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. Nuts, seeds, vegetables (especially leafy greens), and whole grains are all good sources of fiber. Build a balanced plate. When making your meals, you want all of these key components: Complex carbs, protein, healthy fat (avocado, nuts, olives, full-fat cheese, etc.), and fiber. Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels, and fat helps to slow the absorption of glucose to the bloodstream. An example of a balanced plate would be salmon (protein and fat) with a side of broccoli (fiber) and rice (carbohydrate).
- Fuel up every three to four hours. If you have a tendency to skip breakfast (or lunch), make it a goal to eat every three to four hours. This helps keep your blood sugar consistent and aids in digestion. It not only creates a more stable energy supply, but your metabolism will be engaged at optimal levels all day long.
If your blood sugar is currently unstable (spikes and dips in energy throughout the day), some small changes can help you to feel much more healthy, energetic and focused. At the end of the day, food is more than just fuel. Keep blood sugar in mind while still eating the foods you enjoy.
By Jeremy Butterfield, LiveNOW Health Coach