When it comes to blood sugar the progression from health to disease is mostly in our control. What you eat has a direct affect on your metabolism and blood sugar regulation. This article focuses on healthy blood sugar regulation process. As well as what happens when we eat balanced meals and how unbalances ones affect our blood sugar.
Why is it Important to Learn About Heathy Blood Sugar Regulation?
Knowing how our food choices affect our blood sugar regulation will help us make better decisions and stay healthy. We are born with perfect blood sugar handling mechanisms in place that help us stay in what I call the “Green Zone”. It takes years of eating in unbalanced way to get into the “Yellow Zone” – insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. If we continue the same eating habits we’ll eventually transition into the “Red Zone” – diabetes. I hope you learn to nourish your body in a balanced way and live your whole life in the “Green Zone”. If you are already in the “Yellow Zone” it’s time to act! And even more so in you are in the “Red”. With diet and lifestyle modifications we can move back from “Red to Yellow to Green”.
How Does Healthy Blood Sugar Regulation Work?
When we wake up in the morning our fasting blood sugar is at the lower end of the normal range. Then we eat breakfast and our blood sugar goes up – how high depends on what we’ve eaten. In response to food intake and rising blood glucose, the pancreas quickly releases insulin. Insulins is a hormone that activates the movement of glucose from blood into cells for storage.
Once glucose is taken out of the blood stream and moved into the cells, glucagon is secreted. This hormone signals to the body to break down the glycogen stores and turn it back into glucose. This allows us to maintain normal blood sugar levels until we eat again. As a result, we can easily last 5-6 hours or longer in between meals without experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar. In fact, it’s better for our metabolic health to avoid snacking between meals. In my opinion, snacking has been promoted for the food industry benefits, not the benefits of our physiology and health.
Balanced Meal Example and its Effect on Blood Sugar
A balanced meal includes all three macronutrients: protein, fat and some carbohydrates. Eating this way won’t spike the blood glucose levels and will make it easy for the body to handle. More on the macronutrients and blood sugar regulation here. An example of a balanced breakfast would be an egg or two with an avocado, or a veggie omelet and a piece of bacon. This will provide a steady energy supply and a very modest elevation of blood sugar. Eating balanced meals also ensures that your healthy blood sugar regulation keeps working correctly for the rest of your life.
Unbalanced Meal Example and What it Does to Us
Our food supply has significantly changed toward more processed carbohydrates. For example, a classic American breakfast is cereal with reduced fat milk and a glass of OJ. All the foods in this example are predominantly carbohydrates and the kind that spike our glucose and insulin levels. This breakfast is quickly digested and most of it turns into glucose and fructose. Our body urgently starts removing glucose from the blood and moving it to our cells for storage. Some of it is stores as glycogen, but most of is stored as fat. In addition, the spike of glucose is often followed by a drop of blood sugar – we call this a blood sugar rollercoaster. Did you ever experience an energy dip a couple hours after lunch?
When we eat this way day after day, year after year our pancreas produces a lot of insulin to keep blood sugar under control. Too much insulin will eventually result in insulin resistance and that will put us on the road to pre-diabetes and diabetes.
What you choose to eat is totally in your control, as well as how frequently you do it. Read my article on Blood sugar control if you need simple ideas on how to modify your diet. You can also contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.