Balance your blood sugar with protein, fat and carbohydrates at every meal and snack.
Blood sugar levels are very important for providing the energy we need to go about our daily activities. Blood sugar is defined as the amount of glucose that is in the blood at any one time. All carbohydrates that you consume are broken down into sugar called glucose, which then provide energy to your muscles, heart and brain.
Blood sugar levels should stay fairly steady through the day. However, problems arise when blood sugar levels fluctuate erratically. If blood sugar levels are continually high it may mean that the hormone insulin, which signals cells to absorb glucose may no longer work properly. If blood sugar levels are low or continually up and down this can lead to energy slumps, tiredness during the day or lunchtime dips, if blood sugar levels are particularly low it is known as hypoglycaemia where you can suffer from the shakes, cold sweats and light-headedness.
Here is an example of how poorly controlled blood sugar can affect you. You wake up in the morning and your blood sugar levels are low from overnight fasting. Ideally you eat a good breakfast and your blood sugar levels rise slowly. This causes a little insulin to be released from the pancreas and insulin knocks on the doors of the liver and muscle cells asking if they will take the sugar out of the blood and in to the cells. If you are active and walked or cycled to work the muscles and liver will love the sugar as they will need it for energy. As you burn off the blood sugar and blood sugar levels begin to fall it makes you feel a little hungry so you have a sensible snack and blood sugar gently rises again. Once again as blood sugar levels begin to rise insulin is released from the pancreas, which knocks on the doors of the liver and muscle cells. This cycle of sensible eating and well-controlled blood sugar continues throughout the day and you have sustained energy and feel well.
Consider now that if you eat a lot of sugar at breakfast (the the Standard English breakfast of cereal, sugar, milk, toast and jam and a coffee with more sugar) your blood sugar will go through the roof, this causes the pancreas to release a lot of insulin. You sit on the bus or in the car to work and the muscle and liver cells now tell the insulin they don’t need that sugar from the blood, as they are not burning it for energy. So now the insulin knocks on the fat cells door and the fat cells welcome that sugar with open arms and convert it to fat for storage.
Because you have released a lot of insulin in response to very high blood sugar most of the sugar in your blood has now been stored in the fat cells and your blood sugar is low. This causes your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones mobilise fats and proteins to the liver where they are converted to blood sugar, raising blood sugar levels once more. As you also feel hungry you have a cup of tea and biscuit or chocolate bar and the blood sugar levels get really high again. As you are now sat at your desk at work being inactive the muscle and liver cells still don’t want the sugar and the fat cells mop it up again.
This cycle of high insulin putting blood sugar into the fat cells, followed by low blood sugar and stress hormone release continues throughout the day. By mid afternoon your blood sugar levels are in your boots, your energy lulls and you have a headache, feel sleepy or you’re just starting to get your sugar cravings. This insulin-cortisol see-saw is a sure fire way to get fat, get bad cholesterol scores and increase risk factors for certain disease.
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