Your body uses the glucose in your blood as an energy source, so it needs to have a certain level of blood sugar available at all times. However, certain factors can cause the blood sugar to be thrown off balance, causing either elevated or reduced levels. The resulting blood sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ can lead to anxiety, cravings for sugary foods, fatigue, weakness and a feeling of ‘brain fog’.1 Luckily, you can usually prevent blood sugar imbalances through diet and lifestyle.
Here are some tips on how to keep your blood sugar balanced.
1. Avoid sugary foods including ‘simple’ carbohydrates
You should take care not to consume too many sugary foods in your diet as they will be delivered straight to the blood as glucose, leading to elevated levels of blood sugar. As well as the more obvious sugars such as cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks and biscuits, watch out for carbohydrates which also get broken down into sugar in your body. ‘Simple’ carbohydrates such as white bread, cereals and white pasta behave much like a sugary food and can cause the blood sugar to spike. Avoid these simple carbohydrates in favour of ‘complex’ carbohydrates such as whole grains and beans which have a steadier conversion into glucose.
2. Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats are digested relatively slowly, which means they don’t cause the blood sugar to spike the way that sugar and simple carbohydrates do. Healthy fats could also help prevent the blood sugar spikes associated with simple carbohydrates. This is because eating healthy fats alongside carbohydrates stabilises the blood sugar as fat slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood.2 Sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts seeds, fish and olive oil.
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3. Eat protein
Like healthy fats, protein is broken down into glucose much slower than carbohydrates which means your blood sugar levels won’t become rapidly elevated after eating a protein-based meal or snack. Carrot sticks and hummus is a great protein-rich snack to keep blood sugar balanced.
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4. Eat regularly
Not eating for long periods of time causes your blood sugar levels to drop. Symptoms of low blood sugar include weakness, hunger and light-headedness as your body doesn’t have access to the glucose it needs for energy. Allowing your blood sugar levels to drop too much can also lead to increased hunger, particularly for sugary foods, which increases the likelihood of overeating and making poor food choices. Researchers in Greece have found that eating six small meals a day is more effective in stabilising blood sugar than three large meals at longer intervals,3 so make sure to eat small amounts of healthy foods regularly.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies
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1. [Online] https://www.diabetes.co.uk/high-low-blood-sugar-symptoms.html.
2. [Online] https://idmprogram.com/understanding-digestion-eat-carbohydrates-fat-fibre-vinegar-idm-3-2/.
3. [Online] https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02248272.