Ever thought that only diabetics need to pay attention to their blood glucose?
Think again my friend. Studies show that 90% of non-diabetics experience blood sugar spikes that are diabetically significant.
And these spikes lead to hormonal imbalance, amongst other things.
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Welcome back to episode 24.
I hope you’re staying healthy and that last week’s episode has provided you with some really useful tips and tricks to keep your immune system strong and how to overcome those colds and flus as fast as possible if you are unlucky enough to get sick!
If you joined me on the last episode, you’ll know that I was really unwell last week for the first time in many many years and wanted to share with you what I did to get back on my feet as fast as I could.
I wanna remind you though, that 90% of the battle lies in the foundation that we build. The things that we do consistently on a daily basis to keep ourselves healthy and strong.
The pro-active things as opposed to the reactive things we do when we get sick.
Which brings me to this week’s topic.
Why it is important to know more about your blood glucose and why it is important to eat foods that will maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
Maybe you’ve always thought that only diabetics have issues with blood glucose, and to be honest, the mainstream medicine and media channels have been feeding us this info for many many years.
But it’s utterly inaccurate.
A 2009 Stanford study showed that over 90% of non-diabetics experience glucose spikes which is diabetically significant
And these spikes cause a whole range of health issues such as hormonal imbalance, menstrual cycle disturbances, feeling flat and experiencing mood changes and irritability.
You will often hear me talk about stress as the main cause of hormonal imbalance, but I have to admit, unhealthy blood glucose levels are right up there too!
Every time you experience a blood glucose spike, it activates the inflammatory response. And inflammation is proven to be the leading cause of many many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders and many more.
So every time you have that sweet treat, you are potentially creating a blood glucose spike which will send an sos signal through your body, which also further contributes to the development of insulin resistance
So today I wanna share about the blood sugar roller coaster and what you need to look out for and how you can prevent that from happening
So just for a little crash course on what blood glucose is, glucose is the main energy source of the body, particularly the brain.
So glucose is necessary for life.
In itself, it’s not a bad thing. We need it.
So when we have a meal, particularly one that contains carbs, the carbohydrates are broken down to its most basic building blocks your digestive system. And these basic blocks are glucose molecules. These molecules are then absorbed into the bloodstream to be used to sustain life, and if there is too much, it is stored in the muscle as glycogen.
The problem comes when we send too much of these glucose molecules into the bloodstream at the same time. So if you would look at it on a graph, the ideal is that we release small amounts oif glucose into the blood regularly.
So the graph would not present any spikes, but rather, low increases over a longer period of time. So you don’t want it to look like mountain peaks, but rather like small waves of the ocean. Small, steady increases, regularly.
This means that insulin is gradually released throughout the day.
But when we eat foods that lead to a large amount of glucose released into the bloodstream at once, we get a spike on that graph, which sends an sos signal to the pancreas to quickly release a large volume of insulin to get rid of that glucose.
And this often puts you into a tailspin, as the insulin would often be too much, leading to a crash in that graph or a crash in the blood glucose. This then activates other hormones that will lead to the release of glucose from the muscles to compensate for the crash. And again, too much glucose will be released and the entire process repeats itself over and over again.
I can almost guarantee that, if you are not conscious about your blood glucose and which foods lead to this glucose roller coaster, you will be experiencing this every single day.
So how would you know?
Well, I wanna share with you the most common symptoms of this glucose roller coaster so you can have an idea and also identify when you might be finding yourself in this place.
And then also, I’ll be sharing with you some very practical tips on how to stay on top of this and prevent this roller coaster, without having to stay away from your favourite treats.
So here we go. The most common symptoms are:
Feeling hungry after eating, especially 1-2 hours after a meal;
Experiencing energy slumps and feeling run down, especially towards the end of the day. I hear ladies talk about this afternoon slump all the time.
You have trouble falling asleep at night
You feel jittery and or anxious
Experiencing hunger headaches; or
The inability to focus or feeling unproductive
Do any of those jump out at you?
Maybe you’re even experiencing all of those?
How often do you experience these symptoms?
If you are experiencing 2 or more of these symptoms, you are likely putting your body through this roller coaster regularly.
And as long as you keep doing this, your hormones will remain unhappy and unbalanced.
So what do you do when you experience these symptoms?
Maybe you address them with an afternoon coffee, or snacks that contain natural sugars just to get you over that hump. Which makes this entire process even more out of control.
Most women have no idea that they are on it, as we think only diabetics experience the blood sugar roller coaster
And then we continue to contribute to the problem and move ourselves towards insulin resistance and eventually full-on diabetes.
And the problem that I have, is that most doctors and dietitians (including myself a few years ago), approach pre-diabets and even insulin resistance as a warning sign for diabetes, and therefore it’s a watch and wait scenario.
Waiting for it to be bad enough, so we can start the patient on medication and then treat.
But we don’t have to wait until it’s necessary to treat.
It’s critical that we prevent it!
This is our best shot at long term wellness.
We know that insulin resistance and pre-diabetes is a risk factor for chronic disease in itself, that is what research is currently telling us.
Such as a recent study that was presented to the American Heart Association which indicated that young adults with pre-diabetes were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised with a heart attack later in life than those without blood sugar and insulin issues.
I just want you to note here that these are not diabetics, these are people with mildly increased glucose levels and mildly increased insulin resistance.
That’s why it is so very important to be aware of this, especially for women in their 30s and 40s, due to the hormonal changes that happen during this period, which makes us more likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes.
In my experience in practice, patients don’t realise how important it is to get this under control, and even if they do, the solutions that are offered are so impractical and often outdated, that people end up doing nothing about it.
So if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that I’ve just mentioned, I would highly recommend that you do some further investigations.
Even if you feel that you don’t experience those symptoms often, it’s always better to know more about your health than less.
So my recommendation would be to request a Haemoglobin A1C test from your doctor, which measures blood glucose average levels over the previous 3 months.
And once you get your results, you want to make sure that your result is under 5.4, as anything above that is starting to be associated with risk.
So you can absolutely lower that number, but the best place to start is to actually know your numbers right?
Now, as a quick recap, the 3 most common signs that you are on the blood sugar roller coaster are
Feeling hungry after eating, specifically 1-2 hours after eating,
Energy slumps, and feeling run-down at the end of the day, and
Killer cravings for sugar and carbs, especially towards the end of the day. Or craving a coffee just to pull you through that slump.
Now as you know me, I’m all about the tips and tricks.
Things that you can start implementing today to start healing your body.
And trust me, it does not have to be complicated.
But, I do realise that sometimes these changes can be very overwhelming.
So I want you to choose 1 or 2 things that I mention here today, that you think you can start implementing quite easily today.
Choose the 1 or 2 things that sound the easiest to do right now. The ones that will take the least amount of effort and brain power.
So you’re setting yourself up for success.
And once you master those, you come back to this episode and choose 1 or 2 more.
Remember, the big results are in the small changes. So keep it simple.
If you implement these tips and tricks, you’ll still have wriggle room to eat the treats and foods that you love.
And if you stack the hacks, even better.
So here goes, my favourite hacks, that I use for myself every day, to make sure I keep my blood glucose levels stable:
Number 1: I break my fast with a meal that includes proteins and fats, and more often than not, veggies or berries.
Remember that I said, once we go into the rollercoaster, it’s really really trick to get out of it. So you wanna try to start the day in a way that will not dump you into that roller coaster right away.
The worst thing that you can do is to start the day off with a sugary or carb heavy meal such as cereals or toast with jam.
Even having only a cup of coffee is the worst thing you can do. Try to have your coffee with your balanced meal.
So examples would be fried veg, like mushrooms, onions, and zucchini with egg on a piece of high quality bread.
Or one of my go-to’s, a smoothie with berries, nuts, oats and seeds
Number 2: Include veggies and salads in every meal that you eat, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between. The fibre in veggies help to stabilise blood sugar.
Number 3: Take on a new order. So what do I mean by that?
Well, when you have your meals, eat your food in order of fibre and proteins first, and then the starches.
A very practical habit that I’ve started for myself, is to snack on olives while cooking or preparing meals. THis means I’m including good fats in my meals, and by the time the meal is ready, I’m not starving. Which means I’ll eat slower and less.
Number 4: Balance those meals out.
This is one of my pet sayings! You’ll always hear me say this.
Always balance those meals.
This means, make sure you have carbs, proteins and fats in each and every meal and snack. So no carb-only snacks such as crackers only. Make sure you dress them with veggies, fats (such as avocado) and proteins like hummus or good quality free range chicken.
Or having your apple with some peanut butter.
Number 5: Go for a 20-30 minute walk after meals, especially after dinner when we are more insulin resistant.
I would highly recommend that you listen to episode 20, where I share with you 6 reasons why you should be walking more. But research actually shows that walking after dinner prevents a blood sugar spike!
Number 6: Always have dessert after a meal and not for a snack or for breakfast. Even when you want to enjoy your favourite lollies, make sure you do it after a meal. This will even out the response that the sugar will have on your blood glucose. I like to say that the meal you’ve just had is masking the sugar in the dessert.
Also make sure that you don’t eat a massive amount of food if you know that you’ll be having dessert. So in other words, leave space for it.
Number 7: Drink a tbs of apple cider vinegar before a meal or before a dessert to curb the glucose spike.
Several studies have found that apple cider vinegar taken before meals can actually lower blood glucose after meals.
I don’t enjoy taking apple cider vinegar with water, so I use about 2 tbsps over my salads, mixed with olive oil, about ½ tsp of honey and some lime essential oil as a dressing.
And those, my friends, are the 7 hacks that I use every day to make sure I keep my blood glucose stable.
Along with these hacks, remember that it goes without saying that you should avoid processed foods, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible and manage those stress levels. All of these also play a major role in stabilising your blood sugar levels. And the more consistent you can be with all of these, the better.