Blood Sugar Imbalance - Crucial Information You Must Know About It
Do you have cravings for sweet or starchy foods?
Do you have frequent headaches?
Do you experience afternoon dips?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be dealing with blood sugar imbalances.
Blood sugar imbalances happen when your body cannot handle glucose effectively. Throughout the day blood glucose levels may fluctuate outside of the body’s desired blood glucose range going from too low (hypoglycaemia) to too high (hyperglycaemia).
Such fluctuations in blood sugar can lead to diabetes and metabolic syndrome if not controlled using dietary and lifestyle changes.
How Does The Body Control Blood Glucose Levels?
All the food you eat is turned into glucose, which is the fuel that drives all body processes. This glucose moves into the blood for distribution around the cells of the body. The levels of glucose in the blood need to be very strictly managed and to do this, the body secretes the hormone insulin from the pancreas.
After we eat, insulin works to lower blood sugar by increasing the rate that cells take it up and store it. Conversely, if blood sugar levels slump too low, due to food deprivation or exercise, the body will quickly produce the hormone glucagon, which releases stored glucose from cells.
In some situations, such as after a carbohydrate or sugar-rich meal, too much insulin is produced. When insulin is high the cells of the body try desperately to mop up as much glucose as possible which can result in blood glucose levels dropping too quickly, leading to periods of hypoglycaemia and possible associated fatigue, weakness, irritability, sugar cravings and dizziness.
If the cells are constantly having to respond to high levels of insulin in the blood because you are eating lots of sugary or high carbohydrate meals, or because you are stressed or using stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol, they start to have difficulty recognising insulin. In effect, the cells become ‘insulin resistant’. In this situation, both insulin and glucose remain high in the blood and the cells requiring the glucose for energy are unable to take it up.
Dietary And Lifestyle Advice To Manage Blood Sugar Levels
- In general, you want to aim to eat low to medium GL foods and high GL foods in moderation. See GL Foods factsheet for more information.
- Aim to eat complex carbohydrates as part of your main meals. These include wholewheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, millet, kamut, lentils, beans, etc.
- If you are dealing with blood sugar imbalances, make sure you eat little and often during the day, at least for a little while until your blood sugar levels go back to normal. For example 3 small meals and 2 snacks. Sometimes an oatcake is all that is needed between meals.
- Include protein in all your meals and snacks as this will help to slow the release of glucose from the gut into the blood stream. This is why Foodie for health snacks are a great choice as they have a low glycemic load and are high in protein.
- Exercise has been shown to have a significant blood glucose balancing effect. Start an aerobic exercise program to be followed at least three days a week.
BLOG POST CREATED BY AMANI KAITE, NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST