If you hear someone talking about stable blood sugar, it may conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or even insulin injections.
Why should you want stable blood sugar in the first place?
Well, blood sugar measures the amount of sugar in your blood, and you need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.
One thing about blood sugar, it fluctuates. A Lot. The fluctuation happens because of things that increase it and things that decrease it. This is your body’s natural way of trying to balance your blood sugar.
When you eat, your blood sugar will increase. What you eat affects how much your blood sugar increases.
You may associate increased blood sugar with eating “carbs”. So, what happens is when you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”) your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. Carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars and your body keeps your blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin promotes the absorption of carbohydrates, especially glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle for energy.
Why Have stable blood sugar?
Now that you know a little more about blood sugar & insulin let’s go over why you would want stable blood sugar.
Your body wants and needs your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It needs to be high enough so you aren’t light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. On the other hand, it needs to be low enough your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.
When blood sugar is too low, it’s called hypoglycemia.” Hyperglycemia is the opposite, it’s when your blood sugar is too high.
If you have prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels then you have what is called chronic hyperglycemia. This can lead to insulin resistance.
When you eat a lot of foods high in sugar or lots of refined foods (and they make up most of your diet), your pancreas keeps making insulin to try to lower your blood sugar. Over time, cells become “numb” to the excess insulin and they start ignoring (resisting) it—insulin resistantance. If this happens, your blood sugar levels will stay too high. This can eventually lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
So, now let’s look at ways you can optimize your food and lifestyle and keep your blood sugar stable.
Food for Stable Blood Sugar
The simplest thing you can do to balance your blood sugar is reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. One easy way to do this is by cutting back on sweet drinks (this includes juices, not just soda) and having smaller portions of desserts and refined bread (which has a bigger impact on your blood sugar than table sugar). Also, make sure you spread your “carbs” throughout the day so you’re not overloading your body all at once.
A food that can help with stable blood sugar is fiber. Fiber actually helps slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal. When you eat fiber, it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level and creates a more gradual rise.
You find fiber in plant-based foods. Just make sure you eat them in their natural state because processing removes fiber. So, eating foods like nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) are great ways to increase your fiber intake. If you want to learn about some great foods for fiber intake, check out this post HERE.
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. Plus, there’s a delicious recipe below!
Lifestyle for Stable Blood Sugar
One great improver of insulin sensitivity is exercise. (Insulin sensitivity means your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood). Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles use up sugar they absorbed from your blood. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that exercise is great for you even if you aren’t concerned with your blood sugar, right?!
There’s a lifestyle factor you may not know affects your blood sugar levels. That my friends is stress! Yep, it’s true! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels.
Think about the “fight or flight” stress response. What fuel do you think your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? If you guessed sugar, then you guessed right!
When you’re stressed, signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress (it’s chronic stress that’ll get ya) you’re under and manage it more effectively. Simple tips are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement. Learn how lowering your stress can help that spare tire in THIS post!
Believe it or not, sleep in something that 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. Yep, you read that right!
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. Want to know how sleep is related to weight gain, read more in THIS POST
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest for stable blood sugar. Your body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired/numb/bored (resistant) if you don’t pay attention to your diet and lifestyle. Long-term blood sugar issues can spell T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help maintain stable blood sugar. Remember to minimize excessive carb intake (especially refined/processed), eat more fiber-containing foods (especially veggies), exercise, reduce stress, and improve sleep. These are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).
The cinnamon in this delicious apple recipe is a fantastic spice to help stabilize blood sugar.
- 2 apples chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will become slightly soft, and water will be absorbed.
Add 1 tsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.
Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well.
Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness!
Serve and enjoy!
Keeping the peel on increases the fiber, which is even better for stabilizing your blood sugar.