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How does blood sugar affect your health?
What do midday slumps, food cravings and exhaustion have in common? All have something to do with blood sugar. Here you can find out exactly what blood sugar is, what effects it has on your body and how you can use blood sugar to positively influence your well-being and health.
What is the blood sugar?
Blood sugar corresponds to the glucose content in the blood and indicates how much sugar (glucose) is in dissolved form in your blood. We absorb sugar, i.e. glucose, through our food. The blood sugar level therefore increases after every meal. When that happens, the hormone insulin gets to work. It ensures that the glucose (sugar) in food is absorbed by the body and converted into energy as quickly as possible.
“Our cells—like every cell in all animals and plants—need energy to stay alive, and their preferred source of this is glucose” (Inchauspé, 2022).
What are blood glucose curves?
Most of the time, blood sugar is lowest in the morning before breakfast and highest right after a meal. Especially if the meal contained a lot of carbohydrates . Stress or strenuous workouts can also raise blood sugar levels. If you show the rise and fall of blood sugar as a line in a graph, the so-called blood sugar curve is created. The movement of the curve is always related to food, stress, exercise or sleep . In general, one can say: the flatter the curve, the better for health (Inchauspé, 2022). In addition, we can influence and control our blood sugar curve ourselves with small changes.
What are normal blood sugar levels?
It is perfectly normal for blood sugar to fluctuate throughout the day. Ideally, you should make sure that it is between 80 and 110 mg/dl . When blood sugar levels are above normal too many times throughout the day, it impacts our mental and physical health .
Blood Sugar Spikes: The Glucose Roller Coaster
In the event of extreme fluctuations, your blood sugar, symbolically speaking, takes a rollercoaster ride, racing from a high to a low and only calming down again overnight. Especially after a meal with a lot of carbohydrates you feel tired and stuffed. Shortly thereafter, however, a craving for something sweet sets in. The reason for this is blood sugar spikes, which are followed just as quickly by a blood sugar low.
What happens when there is a spike in blood sugar?
A blood sugar spike is actually a natural and short-term change in your glucose curve. However, if there are multiple spikes throughout the day, your body will be hyper for longer. This is called a hyperglycemic state , which among other things increases oxidative stress, inflammation and the glycation of important lipids in your body.
💡 Glycation is the process by which sugar binds to proteins or lipids.
In this condition, the body releases more insulin into the bloodstream than usual. This increases the absorption of sugar from the blood into the cells. Over time, the increased amount of insulin in the blood can make you less responsive to insulin, and slower absorption of blood sugar into cells. The consequence of this is an elevated blood sugar level, which can be accompanied by a number of unpleasant symptoms.
What effects does this have on the body?
In her book The Glucose Trick, French biochemist Jessie Inchauspé writes about the effects of spikes in blood sugar on our health and general well-being.
Among the short-term effects, she cites “cravings, fatigue, increased menopausal symptoms, migraines, trouble sleeping, problems coping with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes, a weakened immune system, and loss of cognitive abilities” (Inchauspé, 2022).
In the long term, according to Inchauspé, a wildly fluctuating blood sugar level "contributes to the aging process and promotes chronic diseases such as acne, skin rashes, psoriasis, arthritis, cataracts, Alzheimer's, cancer, depression, intestinal diseases, cardiovascular diseases, infertility and PCOS, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver". (Inchauspe, 2022). That's quite a lot. In her book, and on her Instagram channel @glucose.goddess , she explains how we can avoid these harmful effects. One thing is clear to her: not doing without, but finding the right balance is the key to well-being and lasting health.
5 tips to avoid blood sugar spikes.
The following tips will help you to keep your blood sugar curve flat and avoid blood sugar spikes by making small changes in your diet:
- Eat vegetables first, then sugar and carbohydrates
- Combine fiber, protein, and fats into the carbs you eat.
- Make yourself a salty breakfast to start your day.
- Eat sweets after a meal .
- Go for a 10-minute walk after lunch or dinner.
Some blood sugar spikes are easier to avoid than others. If stress is the trigger, only slowly reducing the stress will help. For example, by taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep, meditating or doing mindfulness exercises.
💡 By the way, our vly products are all high in protein and contain no refined sugar. Here's the shop.
Inchauspé, Jessie (2022): The glucose trick. No more cravings, bad skin and low mood - How to escape the roller coaster of blood sugar levels - With self-test and 10 surprising nutritional hacks, Heyne Verlag
Huber, Marie-Luise (2023): Blood sugar curves simply explained: Symptoms of high and low blood sugar (hyperglycaemia & hypoglycaemia, https://helloinside.com/blogs/insider/blood sugar curves (Access June 2023)
Wholey (2023): Blood Sugar: How to Avoid Breakfast Sugar Spikes, https://wholeyorganics.com/blogs/nutrition/bloodsugar (Access June 2023)
More information at: https://helloinside.com/blogs/insider