How To Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com
Healthy blood sugar levels are important for everyone. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and problems with your eyes, gums, and nerves. Day-to-day healthy blood sugar levels will help with balancing energy levels, maintaining focus, and stabilizing mood.
What Is "Blood Sugar?"
Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the primary sugar that is found in your blood. Glucose is the type of energy that your body prefers to use for the majority of its functions! Your body can get glucose from certain foods and drinks you consume.
Why Healthy Blood Sugar Levels Matters
When you digest a meal containing glucose, the glucose enters into your bloodstream and then your pancreas produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps transfer the glucose into your cells to be used for fuel. An imbalance of blood sugar levels increases the risk of developing diabetes (type 2) and heart disease. With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas is unable to produce insulin, and taking insulin around meals is needed to aid in this process. Managing blood sugar levels is important for everyone, not just those with Diabetes.
What Can Contribute To Abnormal Blood Sugar Levels?
Depending on what we eat or don’t eat, our blood sugar levels can spike or plummet. This is why proper nutrition is such an important factor in balancing blood sugar. If you eat something high in simple carbohydrates, such as a candy bar, your blood sugar will immediately spike, often followed by a sugar crash. One of the best ways to maintain healthy blood sugar is to eat a carbohydrate with protein, fiber, or healthy fats. Protein, fiber, and fat delay digestion and help slow the release of glucose helping to avoid a spike and crash situation.
Some other factors that can contribute to abnormal blood sugar levels are stress, sleep, and dehydration. Both stress and lack of sleep can decrease the function of insulin, leading to a potential increase in blood sugar. Drinking water and staying hydrated is important because water helps dictate the amount of blood sugar concentration in the blood. Dehydration can cause the concentration to be too high.
5 Wellness and Nutrition Tips for Supporting Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
- Swap For A Better Sugar! Purecane is a great option in place of traditional sugar because it does not have any effect on blood sugar levels! Purecane has a low glycemic index and zero net carbs, so it will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. It can be used as a 1-to-1 sugar replacement in countless recipes from baking, sauces, beverages to salad dressings, and more!
- Balanced Meals: Include a source of protein and or fat with each meal/snack. If you are craving a piece of toast, top with nut butter or hummus to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. If making a fruit and veggie smoothie, add a handful of walnuts and pumpkin seeds for fiber, fat, and protein.
- Low Glycemic: To help balance blood sugar levels, aim to eat low glycemic foods. Your glycemic index is what measures the rate of the rise of blood sugar. Low glycemic foods are the foods that are slowly digested and absorbed in the body causing a slower rise in blood sugar, which helps keep it steady and low. Some of these foods include oats, beans, lentils, and non-starchy vegetables.
- Reduce Stress: Include self-care activities throughout the day and week to help reduce stress such as getting some fresh air and sunshine, journaling, meditating, being in nature, a cup of tea, or taking a bath.
- Exercise! Having a regular exercise routine can increase your insulin sensitivity. This simply means that your cells do a better job taking glucose from the blood and using it for fuel. Exercise also helps your muscles utilize sugar for energy and contraction.