Balancing your blood sugar levels is important for your health even if you do not have diabetes.
Sugar is a problem because it can make you gain weight, which then increases oestrogen production and creates a hormone imbalance. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body releases. The more insulin is released, the more of your food is converted into fat, and your body therefore fails to break down previously stored fat. Fat stored on your body is a manufacturing plant for oestrogen, so it is important not to carry too much excess weight. Sugar is also ‘empty calories’. It does not give you anything of nutritional value.
So when you are trying to nourish your body and give it the right tools to correct a health problem you don’t want to eat foods that have a negative effect on your health. Fluctuations in blood sugar, especially low blood sugar, can cause a number of symptoms including irritability, aggressive outbursts, depression, fatigue, dizziness, crying spells, anxiety, confusion, inability to concentrate, headaches, palpitations, forgetfulness and lack of sex drive.
When you eat any food in its refined form you digest it very quickly. Refined foods are no longer in their ‘whole’ state and have been stripped of their natural goodness by various manufacturing processes. Two of the most widely used refined foods are sugar and white flour. If digestion is too fast, glucose enters the bloodstream too rapidly. This also occurs when eat any food or drink that gives a stimulant effect, such as tea, coffee or chocolate. The initial stimulating ‘high’ quickly passes and you plummer down to a ‘low’, in which you feel tired and drained. So, what do you need? Another stimulant, like a cup of coffee or bar of chocolate to give you a boost.
If there is a long gap between your meals your blood glucose will drop to quite a low level, leaving you feeling the need for a quick boost like a cup of coffee. When the glucose level falls too low, adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands to get your liver to produce more glucose in the blood, which means that your pancreas has to secrete more insulin in order to reduce your glucose. Your body is then on a roller-coaster ride of fluctuating blood sugar levels.
If you continually ask your pancreas to produce extra insulin, it will literally become exhausted and unable to cope with the demands. You then have the opposite problem – high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) – because your body is not producing enough insulin to deal with the glucose. The extreme form of this is diabetes. With this condition, insulin is supplied from outside the body in order to control glucose levels. It is important that you keep your blood sugar in balance, not only to eliminate any health problems but also to keep you in good health and prevent problems for the future.
How to balance your blood sugar
To help maintain a steady blood sugar level during the day, aim to eat complex carbohydrates as part of your main meals, and make sure that you eat little and often during the day. Sometimes just an oat cake can be enough between meals to keep eating urges at bay. If you find the symptoms associated with low blood sugar are worst first thing in the morning or if you wake during the night with heart pounding and you are unable to get back to sleep, then it is very likely that your blood sugar level has dropped overnight and adrenaline has kicked into play. Eating a small, starchy snack, like half a slice of rye bread, one hour before going to bed, will help to alleviate these symptoms.
- Do eat unrefined complex carbohydrates including wholewheat bread, potatoes, brown rice, millet, oats, rye, etc.
- Do dilute pure fruit juice.
- Always eat breakfast. Porridge of oatmeal is a good choice.
- Do eat small, frequent meals no more than three hours apart.
- Do reduce, preferably avoid, stimulants including tea, coffee, chocolate, smoking and canned drinks that contain caffeine.
- Don’t eat refined carbohydrates. Avoid ‘white’ in general. Remember that white flour is in many things, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and white bread.
- Don’t eat sugar or the foods it is found in, including chocolate, sweets, biscuits, pastries and soft drinks.
Remember to make sure your complex carbohydrates are unrefined. In general, this means choosing brown instead of white. For example, eat wholewheat bread, brown rice and wholemeal flour as opposed to their white versions, which have been refined and stripped of essential vitamins, minerals, trace elements and valuable fibre.