Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.
The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.
This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches, i.e., carbohydrates, then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy.
You have probably heard every health and wellness expert talk about blood sugar balance at some point. Well, this means it's probably important for your overall health! In here, I explain why maintaining a stable blood sugar is important for optimal health and how to achieve this on the regular basis.
Why keep my blood sugar stable?
Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you're not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn't scrambling to remove excess from the blood and store the excess as fat.
When blood sugar is too low, this state is referred to as "hypoglycemia"; when blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia.
Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to "insulin resistance". Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so overworked of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high. Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes.
So let’s look at how you can optimize your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.
Nutrition for stable blood sugar
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks, avoiding baked goods and pastries, and having smaller portions of dessert.
Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the "spike" in your blood sugar level. Fiber is found in plant-based foods as long as they are eaten in their natural state; processing foods removed fiber. Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies, not juiced as it removes the fiber, is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.
Lifestyle for stable blood sugar
Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity because it triggers your cells to take up more glucose; this means that your cells don't ignore insulin's message to get excess sugar out of the blood. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn't you?
Another lifestyle factor that affect your blood sugar levels is stress. Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the "fight or flight" stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to "fight" or "flee"? Sugar! When you are stressed, you release more cortisol from the adrenal glands which signals your cells to break down stored forms of glucose and release it into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress you're under and manage it more effectively. Simple tips are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don't get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is a crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority: it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get overworked and become resistant. Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.
Minimizing excessive refined carbs, and eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health). There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable, and these are a few key ones to help you maintain a stable blood sugar.
Through the Nutrition & Lifestyle Reset Program, I coach my clients to implement these strategies to help with controlling blood sugar fluctuations to break weight loss resistance, beat adrenal fatigue, and balance hormones. Consider hiring me as a coach if you need the accountability and guidance to achieve an optimal blood sugar health!