Blood Sugar Balance for Optimal Health
Halloween and the Holidays are upon us! We are about to kick off a couple of months of holiday parties, gatherings and festive eats so there is no better time to talk about the importance of blood sugar balance for optimal health and longevity. (More on Longevity HERE.)
Diabetes is an epidemic in our nation and a recent report came out that indicated that being diagnosed with diabetes in your 30s will cut life expectancy by 14 years, being diagnosed in your 40s will cut it by 10 years and diagnosed in your 50s will but your life expectancy 6 years. Given that diabetes (with the exception of type I diabetes) is a lifestyle disease, we can, and should, make changes to our habits so that we can live a long and healthy life! This doesn’t mean being perfect all the time but there are some simple strategies to implement to help with blood sugar balance and optimal health.
I don’t believe in living a restricted life without treats or sugar of any kind but I am a big believer in the 80-20 rule, making healthy choices 80% of the time and allowing some flexibility to treat myself 20% of the time, especially on holidays or special occasions. Restrictive diets don’t work, and I am less concerned with what is taken out of the diet than what is added in. When you add in the good stuff (lots of greens and colorful produce, protein, fats), naturally there is less space for the bad stuff.
I have been wearing a continuous glucose monitor for the past week and while this is not an option for everyone, it has been really insightful to see how certain foods will spike my blood sugar while others keep it more stable. Right now, I am in the phase of just seeing how I react to foods but I intend to wear for a little while longer to see how some tweaks and modifications can help make my blood sugar balance more optimal.
Below are some tips on balancing blood sugar for optimal health during the holidays and beyond so that you can enjoy some Halloween candy or Holiday treats without feeling guilty or without feeling the crash of blood sugar and insulin highs and lows.But first, what is the role of blood sugar (glucose) and insulin? When you eat a meal, the carbohydrates and sugars are converted to glucose which enters the bloodstream. Then, insulin is released by the pancreas and helps get the glucose from the bloodstream into our cells to be used for energy. Sounds good, right? The problem is when we consume too much sugar or carbohydrates and our bodies stop responding to the insulin and our cells do not properly utilize the glucose anymore and we become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can lead to metabolic disease like diabetes, weight gain, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease. This can be big problem, but this doesn’t mean we need to cut out sugar completely (at least for most), here are some tips for blood sugar balancing for optimal health:
- Always pair carbohydrates with protein, fat or fiber. When you do this, it allows for less of a spike in glucose and subsequently, insulin, and better blood glucose regulation.
- After a meal, especially if higher in carbohydrates, go for a 10-15 minute walk. Research has shown that even a short walk, dramatically reduces post-pranidal (post-meal) blood glucose levels.
- Regular exercise can also help to keep your body more sensitive to insulin and better at utilizing glucose.
- Before Halloween candy or treats, have a balanced meal, trying to aim for higher protein and fat. This will make it less likely for you to overindulge and if you do indulge it will create more blood sugar balance. Dessert immediately after a meal will have dramatically different effects than dessert on an empty stomach.
- Eat slowly, and intentionally. This will allow you to listen to your natural hunger cues and decrease the chance of overeating.
- Drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated helps to flush glucose out through the kidneys and urine.
- Having Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) or a vinaigrette type dressing on greens before a meal. Vinegar has been shown to reduce post meal blood glucose levels. If the thought of taking a shot of ACV is unappealing to you, it sure is for me, having a salad with any type of vinegar based dressing (opt for ones lower in sugar) can have the same effect, plus you are getting more fiber!
- And finally, everything in moderation. If you have one day of lots of treats, don’t let it throw you off into weeks or months of over indulging. Get back on track the next day and follow these tips!
If you are interested in fine tuning your nutrition and your health or interested in trying out a continuous glucose monitor, Book a free introductory call below!