- 1 How To Control Blood Sugar Level – You Can Make A Difference
- 2 Basic Definitions
- 3 Role of Insulin Explained
- 4 How the body adapts to maintain blood sugars at bay
- 5 So Why Is It Necessary to Control Our Blood Sugar Level?
- 6 Take Action Before It Is Too Late
- 7 What You Should Eat To Maintain Healthy Insulin Level
- 8 Feel Confident To Implement SOME Of These Amazing Foods?
How To Control Blood Sugar Level – You Can Make A Difference
We know that a balanced level of hormone production is absolutely critical for our bodies to operate efficiently. As women, we typically develop a deeper interest to learn more about hormones and their functions when there are obvious signs of imbalance in our life such as weight gain, a decrease in libido and/or irregular periods, particularly when we want to conceive.
I want to really invest the time to properly explain the role of insulin in our body not just for the benefit of weight loss, as discussed in the previous article, but also to really shed some understanding on how to control blood sugar levels by implementing simple healthy eating habits. I am sure that once you ladies finish reading this article, you will be convinced and motivated to make changes in your lifestyle because the positive effects of proper insulin hormone function go far beyond losing weight.
IINSULIN is a hormone produced by the endocrine system, specifically the pancreas.
GLUCOSE also known as blood sugar, is converted from certain foods we eat. These foods include fruits, carbohydrates and food with a high sugar content.
Role of Insulin Explained
It is as simple as this ladies:
We eat a meal containing carbohydrates – glucose levels in the blood stream will rise – pancreas triggered to release insulin.
This is because one insulin’s primary roles is to carry glucose through the blood stream to cells of the body because they need glucose to function. Glucose can not enter the cells without bound to and transported by insulin.
How the body adapts to maintain blood sugars at bay
If we have created too much glucose after a meal, insulin also helps with storing glucose in fat and liver cells in a difference chemical form called glycogen.
In the opposite situation, if we do not have enough glucose in our cells because for instance, when we perform intense physical exercise or if you have a long gap between two meals, another hormone secreted by the pancreas, called glucagon helps take the stored glycogen from either the fat cells or the liver it to the body’s cells back in the form of glucose.
Without insulin, we would not be able to:
1. Utilize glucose for energy.
2. Maintain a normal level of insulin in our bodies to prevent other health issues such as hypoglycemia (too little glucose) or hyperglycemia (too much glucose).
So Why Is It Necessary to Control Our Blood Sugar Level?
Blood sugar is our PRIMARY source of energy and without it, we would feel sluggish and very low in energy. That is why many athletes, particularly marathon runners, eat more carbohydrates to be able to endure long distance running. So the importance and necessity for glucose is clear cut. What we need to prevent is becoming INSULIN RESISTANT.
Insulin Resistance Explained
As the name suggests, this when the cells of our body, become resistance to insulin, which in turn means that the cells can not receive and utilize the blood sugar inside the blood stream.
As a result, the levels of blood sugar continue to rise in the blood stream and the pancreas continues to produce more and more insulin trying to manage the situation.
With high level of both insulin and blood sugar in the body over an extended period will lead to many other health issues and most common is Type II Diabetes however there are MANY other associated health risks.
Other Possible Heath Issues
The pancreas fails to keep up with the excess production of insulin and over an extended period, it becomes damaged
Evidence shows that people who are insulin resistant may develop hypertension and coronary disease. A study in 2007 showed that these individuals displayed endothelial dysfunction, which is a condition of the arteries and contributes to heart issues. (1)
Similarly, a very recent study in 2016 also showed that insulin resistance may lead to arterial vasculature, which are health issues to the vascular system (arteries, veins & capillaries). This same study showed that the kidney function is also affected. (2)
Recently more researchers are exploring the relationship between insulin resistance and Alzeimer’s disease. This is because in a healthy individual, insulin is known to aid in memory function and cognitive functions of the brain. A 2018 study determined that being insulin resistant may lead to late cerebrovascular disease, stroke and Alzheimer. (3)
Last but not least is that weight gain, inflammation, blindness and high cholesterol are all possible consequences of being insulin resistant.
Take Action Before It Is Too Late
As you can see, one hormone, can have many potential consequences. On top of it, although most individuals who develop the resistance to insulin are over-weight, some are not. An article in WebMD calls this lean diabetes and this is even more dangerous the patient will be unaware.
What is the good news ladies?
PREVENTION: Diet, sleep and exercise.
Given these are the basics of maintaining good health including happy hormones why not implement them?
Many studies show that implementing work out routines with individuals who have insulin resistant issue or diabetes show in improvement in their health. One of these studies was done strictly with WOMEN. (4) (5) (6)
To the mothers out there, you have the extra responsibility to incorporate excercise in your life because it is highly recommended maintaining a healthy life style for the whole family.
A study in 2017 with close to 600 children aged 8 to 10 years old showed that exercise and screen-time (sedentary behavior with TV) clearly predicted insulin sensitivity within 2 years. This show how young and how quickly insulin dependency develops. (7)
With technology over-taking our children, we need to instill good habits as early as possible.
Sleep is hands down THE most common doctor recommended treatment for every health issue. The benefits of proper sleep are often ignored and sleep will help with stress which is also shown to negatively affect hormone levels including insulin. In fact, the link between sleep and insulin is confirmed today. (8) (9) (10)
This is the area of prevention I want to really get into because first of all, I LOVE learning and teaching about the benefits of healthy eating. Second, it is not always easy to stay on track with good eating.
I think it is best to realize how many options their are to eat well and still ENJOY food.
What You Should Eat To Maintain Healthy Insulin Level
I personally enjoyed reading some articles enforcing the idea of eating EGGS because I love them but I only knew of the benefits of eggs being full of protein.
It seems there is more to eggs than just protein.
Studies have shown the eating eggs for breakfast increases energy levels throughout the day, stabilized the levels of insulin and glucose in the body and suppresses the “hunger” hormone (ghrelin). (11)
Other study also showed that an egg per day, increases the good cholesterol (HDL) in the body and decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL). (12)
Now of course, we must be wise and not eat an egg per day fried with oil! The best option is of course boiled, but if you want to fry an egg, do so with a serving of avocado oil or coconut oil please!
- Healthy Fats & Fatty Fish
There are many healthy fats that you can and should incorporate in your diet. The role of fat is to keep you satiated and that is why in every meal, there should be a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
A study was done with pecans as the health fat and it demonstrated a change in insulin resistance compared to control group that was not eating pecans. (13)
Other studies show that replacing carbohydrates in people’s diet for healthy fat, decreased the level of insulin and insulin resistance.
Other sources of healthy fat are:
4. Coconut Oil
- Whole Grains & Fibre
When choosing what type of carbohydrate to eat, always look at the fiber content. The higher the fiber content in the carbohydrate, the better this is for you. Why?
Fiber does not cause the “glucose” spike as does a carbohydrate which is made up of sugar. Makes sense? We said that glucose is blood sugar so eating white flour, white rice, sugary treats will spike your glucose tremendously after a meal and causing your pancreas and insulin to work hard.
Fiber does not have this effect because it has a smaller glycemic index (less spike in glucose) which also means it is digested and absorbed more slowly. This also helps with keeping you satiated for longer.
There are several studies that tested the effects of soluble dietary fiber on WOMEN, and the results showed that implementing fiber in their diet significantly lowered the insulin levels in women. It also helps form many other diseases such as cancer.
Other great options for fiber and whole grains are:
Want to know one of my secrets? I do love rice and I almost always brown rice. But sometimes when I really want some white rice, or more often when I want potatoes, I mix them with another grain or legume that has a high level of fiber to decrease the glucose spoke that would be much higher if I ate the potatoes or white rice alone.
- Food containing Phenolic Acids
Don’t worry if you have NO IDEA what these are because I didn’t either and the name to me sounds bad for you! But in fact, there are many foods that contain this acid and a study showed that people who followed a diet with high levels of phenolic acid, particularly berries, nuts, coffee, tea and whole grains was associated with lower prevalence of liver issues and insulin resistance.
Phenolic acid have strong antioxidant and anticarcenogenic properties and are necessary in our diet for over all well-being and health. (14)
Now the best is yet to come…where do you find such acid? Here are numerous options and you will be amazed that some of our weaknesses are actually a positive habit!
What do I mean?
Well first thing is that COFFEE is a great source of phenolic acid! Don’t know about you but that is my weakness. And read on ladies, it only gets better. TRUST ME. (15)
WINE. Yes you read correctly. That delicious red wine we enjoy sipping on and most of the time feel guilty for the calories it has. But there huge benefits in drinking the RIGHT wine with high amounts of these properties and this depends on the fermentation process, climate and geography of where the grapes come from. (16)
SIDE NOTE: The topic of wine and phenolic acids REALLY interests me ladies and it is a whole topic altogether and personally I would love to know more because to be honest, I love my red wine but know nothing about quality and typically chose without specific reason.
If this is something that interests you, WRITE ME A MESSAGE in the comment area and I will do some research and get us all up to speak one WHICH wine we should actually INDULGE in!
TEA: Particularly black tea because it contains flavanoid, the largest group of phenolic acid. It has a major bio active component and positively affects the insulin pathway and decreases insulin resistance, and decreases glucose levels.
FRUITS: Yes a natural source of energy but also phenolic acids. Some fruits to enjoy are apples, blueberries, kiwis, plums and cherries. The highest concentration of this antioxidizer is found in the skin, and its concentration increases the larger the fruit gets but also decreases at the fruit ripens. (18)
WHOLE GRAINS: Phenolic acids are also found in grains, and wild rice has more than DOUBLE the amount of this acid than white rice. So now you have two reasons to eat wild rice: FIBER and PHENOLIC acid.
Another study I read regarding the overall benefits of these acids recommend taking 200mg/day and that although there are supplements you can take, it is best to eat them naturally through fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea and WHOLE grains. This is because you will get the source naturally, and the natural digestion process of the acids helps with cell body protection due to their antioxidant powers.
- A SIDE NOTE here, this suggestion regarding vitamins and supplements is a point that I want to highlight. I have never been someone who takes supplements because I truly believe that we have the natural sources we possible need to feed our bodies with the right nutrients and vitamins. There are exceptions of course but I truly think it is for really specific situations and the SOURCE and QUALITY of vitamin supplements are crucial – and this my friends, is what is hard to determine with all the companies selling vitamins our there. Vitamin quality is not controlled like medication quality is.
Protein is great because many repeated studies show that protein does not cause an increase in blood sugar. (19)
On top of that, protein should be incorporated especially if you hare working out to help with lean muscle mass development.
Feel Confident To Implement SOME Of These Amazing Foods?
My very strong piece of advise and I say this in all honesty, because I do this myself and I encouraged my clients when I used to do personal one-on-one health coaching. We are NOT PERFECT. And we should never hold ourselves to ANY strict diet for any reason.
The 3 major PRINCIPLES I VALUE and LIVE by are:
Strict diets are is not sustainable
We need BALANCE and MODERATION
Cutting out certain foods can actually lead to food intolerances and possibly cause you to LACK certain nutrients.
Make a list of the typical things you eat and determine wich are considered healthy and then determine which of the foods recommended above are lacking in your diet. Choose 5 of them and include them in your WEEKLY diet for now by replacing 5 bad items you would have ate.
Share with me which of the foods you incorporated and which you elminated by WRITING ME A COMMENT comment below. I would love to know!