Most of us know at least one person who struggles with diabetes, but did you know that you can suffer from the effects of blood sugar imbalance long before being diagnosed with diabetes? Glucose is absolutely essential for your cells and without it, you wouldn’t last long. So when you hear of people going “Sugar-Free”, what that means is they are reducing their intake of processed foods and added sugars, in an effort to get their glucose from natural, whole sources.
In Western society we take in a LOT of extra, unnecessary sugars, which can be easily hidden in many foods you typically would think of as healthy:
- Granola/cereal and protein bars
- BBQ sauce
- Dried fruits
- White wine
Sugar can also be conveniently turned into syrups, which is increasingly common in our favourite beverages. Fruit juices, specialty coffees and both energy and alcoholic drinks are common culprits, so that many of us are reaching our daily sugar limit before even touching solid food. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (or 36 grams) of added sugars per day, and that women should avoid consuming more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams).
Your body handles sugar by breaking down its source and distributing glucose through the bloodstream to the cells in your body. The uptake of glucose is regulated by a hormone called insulin. When we consume a large amount of sugar at once, sometimes too much insulin can be released, which forces the levels in the blood to drop rapidly, sending our body into a hypoglycaemic state with a whole new set of bothersome symptoms. Let’s see if a blood sugar imbalance may be negatively affecting your mental and physical health in the quiz below.
Do you experience:
- Mood swings?
- Headaches (which worsen if skipping a meal)?
- Depression or sadness relieved by eating?
- Fits or bursts of anger?
- Sleepiness after eating a meal with lots of sugar?
- Lapses in memory or forgetfulness?
- Incidences of cold sweats?
- Difficulty concentrating?
- Episodes of binge eating?
As you can see, there are a host of troublesome symptoms that come along with an interrupted blood sugar balance. Your body’s blood sugar balance contribute to your energy levels, your mental acuity and your emotional state. Young adults and women can be affected more intensely as both groups experience more fluctuations in these areas already, but everyone can benefit from getting their blood sugar under control.
Some ways to address these concerns are to make sure you’re eating a wide variety of whole, natural foods (meaning minimally processed) and taking stock of your daily intake of heathy protein and fats, which can both help to slow the release of sugar in your system. Raw nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of minerals that can be depleted in a high-sugar diet, and can be added to smoothies, salads and vegetable dishes. Whole grains should be considered, and can add an extra punch by making mixed grain pilafs including nuts and nutrient-dense vegetables and herbs/spices. Including plenty of fresh, clean water in place of juices and sodas can be difficult at first, but is absolutely essential.
Speaking from experience, cutting out refined sugars can be one of the hardest habits to break – so many quick snacks and convenience foods are absolutely full of it, but have somehow become a huge part of our diets. It can take time and a lot of patience to introduce healthier options, but it may be one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental and emotional health.
Babcock, J. (2017, June 21). Added Sugars Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer and Metastasis to the Lungs. Retrieved December 07, 2017, from https://draxe.com/hidden-sugar-foods/ Blood Sugar Imbalance. (n.d.). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from http://www.smartnutrition.co.uk/conditions/energy/blood-sugar-imbalance/ Igram, C., Gray, J. K., & Igram, C. (2004). Dr. Cass Ingrams Nutrition Tests for Better Health. Buffalo Grove, IL: Knowledge House. Sugar 101. (2017, May 30). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#