Your blood glucose level rises and falls throughout the day. But how much it increases and falls is crucial to your metabolic health. We expect small changes, but large swings can impact our health.
When you eat a meal, your body turns carbohydrates into glucose—a simple sugar that powers your cells. That extra glucose in your bloodstream triggers the release of a hormone called insulin, which helps your body use the glucose for fuel or store it for later use.
This cycle of eating and taking in glucose, then burning or storing the excess, causes your blood sugar to rise. Sleep and exercise also influence your blood sugar, but what you eat is the most significant driver of change.
The goal for better metabolic health is to keep your blood sugar levels like a gently rolling river. A sharp rise in our blood sugar happens when we eat more sugar & refined carbs than our body can use quickly,
so the concentration in your blood rises sharply. This spike is often followed by a "crash" as your body overcompensates for all that glucose with too much insulin, and your blood sugar drops. Avoiding sharp rises in blood sugar can help you feel better and avoid disease later.
It Begins Here:
Insulin resistance: Chronic high blood sugar leads to elevated insulin levels. Gradually, your cells and tissues may become “numb” to insulin and stop responding to it efficiently. Your body then needs to produce even more insulin, which, in turn, increases insulin resistance. It’s a vicious cycle that can ultimately lead to Type 2 diabetes and contribute to other conditions, such as heart disease, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Vascular dysfunction: Blood sugar spikes can negatively affect blood vessels in different ways. The lining and the surrounding muscles begin to malfunction, leading to problems in blood flow and blood pressure. Over time, this can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other vascular diseases.
Oxidative stress and inflammation: Elevated blood sugar also triggers the creation of inflammatory compounds that can damage your DNA.
Cognitive dysfunction: High glycemic variability has been linked to dementia, cognitive decline and poorer memory. Our brain is sensitive to glucose levels and this may cause damage to the network of blood vessels that nourish our brain.
Remember, a single blood sugar spike doesn’t cause these conditions, nor does a single day of high stress or poor sleep. Instead, these are long-term risk factors that can affect our health when repeated over time.
What Does This Feel Like?
Hunger and cravings: A blood sugar spike is often followed by a crash, during which your blood glucose falls lower than before your meal. Your body reacts to this as a sign that you urgently need food, which manifests as hunger or cravings for more sweets. Giving in to these pangs can result in more spikes and crashes.
Negative emotions: blood sugar spikes can trigger feelings of sadness, low energy, increased agitation and anxiety.
Disrupted biological rhythms: Carb-heavy meals can change our body temperature and heart rate. These changes may explain, in part, why many people struggle with disrupted sleep.
What Can I Do?
Aim for whole, low sugar-spiking foods. You may know that sweets, white bread, refined grains, and starchy vegetables like potatoes can quickly spike blood sugar. But there are other high-GI foods like; coffee creamer, condiments like sweetened ketchup and salad dressing, and some fruits and vegetables when eaten alone like beets and grapes that can cause our blood sugar to spike.
Pair carbs with fat and protein. Blood sugar tends to rise faster when we eat carbohydrate-heavy foods alone. Combining carbs with fat, protein, and fiber can significantly reduce their impact by slowing the rate your body absorbs glucose. Eat fat and protein [when possible] first and save the carbs for last.
Move after eating. Taking a brisk walk, clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, go outside and rake your lawn. Any movement after your meal will help your muscles burn off some of the glucose you just consumed.
Get enough sleep. Sleep quality is tied to blood glucose control. Only one night of poor sleep triggers higher blood sugar levels the following day. Aim for seven to eight hours a night by keeping the bedroom cool and dark, shutting down electronic screens for at least 30 minutes before bed, and find a set bedtime every night by 11pm. Our body systems function best with a regular wake and sleep time.
Avoid eating late at night. Insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. Therefore, eating larger meals in the morning and early afternoon when insulin levels are highest and glucose control is strongest will benefit your metabolic health.
Blood Sugar Hacks to Try
Eat a Savory Breakfast instead of the usual carb-heavy choice. This will make a huge impact with stable energy, less brain fog and those sugar cravings will diminish.
Include Veggies - they are nutrient-rich powerhouses that help fight inflammation, improve blood pressure, and increase our fiber intake. Fiber is the secret sauce for flattening our glucose curve by up to 75%, especially when it arrives first. So try eating some veggies first.
Prioritize Protein. We need adequate protein to build muscle, reduce our hunger and appetite levels, support our bones, boosts our metabolism and increase fat burning. A good target is 25+ grams at every meal.
Enjoy a Vinegar Drink - adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a glass of water will reduce the glucose spike of the following meal by up to 30% and the insulin spike by up to 20%. Cravings are curbed, hunger is diminished and more fat is burned.Try this in the afternoon when you want to grab a chip or cookie.
Our current food system is not helping us in eating well. Food is big business and profit ,not health driven. We must become informed and aware that eating all of these bred for repeat eating foods are damaging our long-term health outcomes.
My hope is that you wil become an intentional consumer and make your health a priority. I
can help you in making these shifts become habits.
You can find me here- https://www.janlindquistntp.com / 209.484-5999
Thanks, for reading,