4 (free) Ways to Improve your Blood Sugar Starting Right Now
If you’re my patient, we’ve probably spent a good amount of time talking about blood sugar. Having good blood sugar control is critical for so many aspects of health (prevention of chronic disease, weight management, reducing inflammation, regulating hormones – to name a few), and it’s not just about eating a low carb diet (although managing the amount of refined carbohydrates in our lives is a must). Here are 4 things you can start doing today to help support healthy blood sugar control:
Have some protein and fat with all meals and snacks
Anytime you’re going to have calories (meals, snacks, alcohol, fancy coffees, etc.) you should make sure that whatever you’re eating has protein (at least 10g) and some form of healthy fat. Proteins and fats help to slow the time it takes for what you eat to end up being absorbed to your bloodstream, dampening the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar.
This means eating an apple with a healthy amount of nut butter vs. eating an apple on its own is significantly better for your blood sugar. Even though you’re consuming the same amount of sugar, adding that protein and fat will reduce the negative impact of that sugar.
Eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat dinner – and that’s all. No one needs or is designed to have 3 meals plus small snacks all day long. There are 2 hormones that primarily regulate glucose in our blood stream (insulin and glucagon) that are in a constant tug of war.
Insulin is released in response to sugar in our blood stream (ie. after meals) and sends signals to store those sugars. Glucagon is released in response to falling blood sugar and sends signals to release sugars from storage. In its simplest terms, if you’re constantly eating all day, you’re constantly releasing insulin, and not giving glucagon a chance to do its thing. Insulin = storage of sugars (eg. fat), glucagon = release of sugars (eg. breaking down fat). More body fat = less insulin sensitivity = higher blood sugars in the long term.
Intermittent fasting (aka time restricted feeding) has gotten a lot of hype over the last few years, but there’s good reason to pay attention to this health craze. Intermittent fasting helps to both reduced blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity. When you eat might be as important to consider, as what you eat.
This feels like one of those things that is said so much that it loses all meaning, but you just gotta do it. With the zillion good things that exercise does for us, weight loss is the least interesting thing about exercise. In the context of blood sugar, exercise after a meal has been shown to reduced blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity, making you more responsive to lower levels of the hormone. And you don’t need to go overboard, even light-intensity walking has been shown to be beneficial.
Dr. Alanna Rinas, ND
Integrated Health Clinic
Clinic number: 604-888-8325