Human body is equipped with an extraordinary and efficient sugar balancing mechanism in the form of insulin that converts the sugar obtained from dietary sources into energy fuel for proper functioning of the body.
The rise in blood sugar levels does not happen overnight; it is always a consequence of some metabolic disturbance as in hypothyroidism or early warning signs of diabetes as in prediabetes or some other cause of insulin resistance in the body.
The effects of an out of balance sugar levels in the body gradually increase in severity; though serious yet avoidable, these represent themselves as fatigue, low energy drive, tension headaches, sugar cravings, excessive thirst, numbness of hands and feet, , vision deterioration, brain fog, frequency of micturation, mood swings, frequent infections, declining physical and sexual endurance and weight gain.
The signs and symptoms take up a chronic status in the form of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, permanent nerve damage, cerebral decline, strokes, ultimately leading to grave consequences as amputations, coma and death.
Sugar in the blood is detected as glucose, which has multiple dietary sources contrary to layman beliefs that carbohydrates are the only source of glucose. To some extent, proteins also contribute towards blood sugar levels while fats are a poor source of sugar.
Certain conditions also predispose the body to abnormal sugar levels as stress and anxiety, infections, meal skipping, a high fat meal, artificial sweetener intake, sleep deprivation, and smoking. Some medications also contribute towards a high sugar level as steroids, statins and diuretics. If you are pregnant, you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes, especially if you have a family history of the subject condition.
How to control blood sugar levels
Just as sugar imbalance is a gradual phenomenon, retracing your steps backwards bit by bit would lead you to back to equilibrium. Following are some guidelines to this passage.
1. Pay attention to your diet
The main culprit is what you eat; optimal sugar levels do not require cutting back on any of the major food groups. Taking a balanced approach towards diet with all the macronutrients would do the job nicely.
Furthermore, the source of the macronutrient is also important. A low glycemic carbohydrate source with healthy protein and fat, in addition to a portion of fiber would deliver some healthy calories. This approach maintains a steady source of glucose via slow absorption rate thereby satisfying your appetite for longer duration. All of the macronutrients combined aid in better digestion and metabolism.
Some of the best dietary choices among different food groups are
- Fish, grass fed lamb or beef, pasture fed chicken, eggs, raw dairy as yogurt, kefir and raw cheese would do fine for proteins from animal source. Plant based proteins such as soy products, grains, seeds, nuts and legumes, and vegetables as kale, zucchini and certain mushrooms deliver fiber as well.
- Some healthy fat sources are coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados.
- Some of the best choices among fiber containing items are fresh fruits and vegetables, bean sprouts, and grains.
- Liquids include green tea, herbal teas, herbs and spices as cinnamon, apple cider vinegar in varying combination and coffee.
2. Pick smart carbs
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our bodies but it does not mean you can have a leisurely carbohydrate portion. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index cause a stable and gradual rise in the blood sugar levels. When selecting carbohydrates, consider the following points
- Prefer natural and unrefined food items to processed and refined ones
- Instead of refined sugar, go for honey, Stevia, dates, pure maple syrup as sweeteners
- Use more of whole grain and almond or coconut flour is a healthy additive
- Use smaller portion of natural sources of carbohydrates
- Skip sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks, stick with water, green or herbal tea, and coffee
3. Take some time for exercise
As cumbersome as it may be for you, exercise has infinite upshots regarding your overall health and specifically in maintaining blood sugar levels. Fortunately, many exercise options can accommodate your current level of fitness as swimming, walking, aerobics, cycling, strength training and even yoga. Exercise lowers inflammation, enhances immunity levels, help balance hormones and manage stress.
High blood sugar levels can lower the energy drive making it difficult to exercise initially. However, taking up an exercise routine, even for a shorter duration per week can gradually build up your stamina. The short-term benefits of exercise stimulate the muscle cells to take up glucose efficiently as energy fuel while the long-term upshots include enhanced insulin sensitivity of the cells.
4. Learn to manage stress
Stress creates havoc throughout the hormonal profile of the body. Stressful events not only cause an increase in cortisol levels but also disturb the sleep and eating patterns causing uncontrolled sugar cravings and sleep debt. Most of the time, the sugar cravings are met with unhealthy food choices in the form of comfort food items (usually refined and processed food).
Exercise is a great way out of a stressful event, yoga and meditation help you calm your nerves and so does an essential oil bath. Having a social circle and group activities are some of the collective therapeutic approaches to dealing with stress. If nothing helps, pick up a hobby like gardening, start writing a journal or start reading your favorite collection of books again.
5. Pay up any sleep debt
Where stress can lead to a disturbed sleep pattern, bad sleeping habits can contribute otherwise too. Sleep arrears can initiate a cascade of hormonal disturbances in the body that end up in a raised cortisol and ghrelin levels, hormones that induce more stress and hunger respectively.
Our sleep follows a circadian rhythm, which if disturbed, either in quality or in quantity, raises the blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you are trying to reach a balance regarding blood sugar, simple caloric control may be rendered null and void if you are not getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours of sleep in twenty-four hours). Fix a screen time for your electronic gadgets, which are fast becoming a convenient tool to induce stress in our lives.
All in all, the fast-paced life pattern of the current millennium has invited bad eating, sleeping and working customs in our lives. A step back towards articles that are more natural and taking a break occasionally can contribute a ton regarding our health.