Maintaining the right level of blood sugar or glucose is key to living a healthy, happy life. When we experience blood sugar peaks and “crashes”, the effects can be devastating to your mood, and to your body as well; while there are many risk factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk.
How Blood Sugar Levels Work
Your blood sugar levels can rise and fall in accordance with the sugar content in the food you eat. When you eat something high in sugar, your blood sugar levels rise; your body responds to this by secreting insulin, a hormone which is created by the pancreas.
Insulin works to lower you blood sugar levels and help cells throughout your body absorb glucose (sugar) for energy. When you go too long without any food or eat unhealthy foods that are too high in sugar and fat, or have health problems affecting your hormones, your blood sugar levels can become dangerously low. As this happens, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol in order to remedy the situation – this is why you feel cranky and moody when you haven’t eaten for a while.
The best thing to do at this point is to eat food that will raise your blood sugar levels gradually – rather than something that will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, followed by a “crash” where your blood sugar levels will become very low again.
Most of the time, three healthy meals a day is enough to keep your blood sugar levels in check. But if you’re not eating regular, balanced meals, it’s easy for your blood sugar to get out of whack, which can lead to a cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes.
How Do You Know When Your Blood Sugar Levels Are Out Of Whack?
It’s important to pay attention to your body. There are several signs that can indicate that your blood sugar levels are out of balance. Here are some things to watch out for:
- You have difficulty losing weight.
- You find yourself craving sugary, sweet foods.
- You feel irritable and moody if you miss a meal.
- Your mood improves markedly after you eat.
- You experience low energy in the afternoon.
- You feel spacey, disconnected, and anxious.
- You are constantly hungry.
- You have had your blood sugar levels tested and discovered that your blood sugar or triglyceride levels are elevated.
Regulating Your Blood Sugar Levels
If your blood sugar levels are out of control, it’s time to look at your diet as a means of regulating your blood sugar levels. Take a look at the glycemic index – it’s a numerical scale which is used as a tool in meal planning, telling us how quickly and by how much a particular food can raise your blood sugar levels as compared to glucose. The lower a food’s glycemic index or glycemic load, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels.
Therefore, foods that have a high glycemic index (even healthy ones) are best avoided temporarily when you’re trying to regulate your blood sugar through diet.
On the other hand, food with a low glycemic index score, such as apples, grapefruit, broccoli, lentils, nuts and seeds, and apricots are great for keeping your blood sugar levels steady.
“Medium” foods, with moderate glycemic index scores, include some starches such as brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, peas and yams – all of which are great when you need quick energy but don’t want to risk a blood sugar spike.
Managing your blood sugar levels through diet and exercise is key to managing your overall health. Knowing which foods have high glycemic levels and which don’t will help you to make healthier decisions when it comes to the foods that you eat.