Blood Sugar Balance
Today’s talk – blood sugar and WHY it’s SO SO SO important to keep it stabilized.
BECAUSE blood sugar balance has a domino effect throughout the whole body. Got it?
The three blood sugar-stabilizing organs are the pancreas, liver, and brain, cool?
First off, there are two types of carbohydrates that the body breaks down into glucose (blood sugar).
We have simple carbs – things like: table sugar, corn syrup, candy, jelly, donuts, cake, bread, and yes, even things like gluten free/vegan pancakes. Then we have complex carbs, which are more nutritional, like: green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, potatoes, beans, lentils.
After we eat a meal/snack or drink a beverage with high carbs/sugar: cereal, oatmeal, toast, or a heavy fruit smoothie, lots of processes with confusing words happen. The words include insulin, glucose, glycogen, glucagon, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), dysglycemia (roller coaster of both high and low blood sugar, ok? Basically these ALL these words are working to make sure our brain, heart, and muscles have adequate energy and for our blood sugar (glucose levels) to stay EVEN KEELED.
Quick example: Carbs/sugar (glucose) comes into our mouth. It is swallowed and goes straight to the brain (without the help of insulin)… the glucose also travels to the pancreas where it then makes insulin. Insulin is then released and travels to the liver, muscles/including the heart, and what’s left over of excess glucose it turns to fat.
When we eat a high carb, high sugar meal or snack, our blood sugar skyrockets and then comes tumbling down.
How do we feel when our blood sugar is imbalanced? Anywhere from sleepy, weak, starved, shaky, light headed, anxious, craving sugar, and of course, noticing weight gain.
In the long term, blood sugar imbalance can wreak havoc on our stress and sex hormones, thyroid, weight, heart (from damaged blood vessels, making blood sticky and more prone to clotting), inflammation levels, and insulin resistance/diabetes.
Then, after we CRASH, we often reach for more carbs or sugar AGAIN to give us a boost of energy, and the process happens again and again.
This can cause A LOT of stress on our body, by pumping out an excess of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), and losing balance between estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Side note: the liver is in charge of breaking down and getting rid of estrogen (women and men both) that our body is finished using.
SO, when the liver is over-worked, having to focus on converting glycogen into glucose because of UNSTABLE BLOOD SUGAR on a day to day basis, it will lack the energy it needs to eliminate estrogen and other toxins from the body. And when the estrogen and other toxins aren’t able to make a smooth exit from the body, it builds up and lingers in our blood stream, causing hormonal imbalances. YIKES!
So… in short, when our blood sugar is imbalanced, so are our hormones. And when these things are OFF, we feel OFF. And eventually, things can go seriously wrong.
Guess what? We can absolutely do something about all of this, though!
As Alisa Vitti, author of women code says, “will power” is so overrated. People beat themselves up over not having strong enough “will power” to say no to a craving, but until the blood sugar is balanced, our hunger hormones - like ghrelin - will continue to win because they want us to eat something that will raise our blood sugar as quickly as possible for energy when balance is off.
HERE is the GOOD NEWS! We can turn of those hunger hormones and achieve really nicely balanced blood sugar when we make good choices to ADD health into what we are putting in our mouth.
When we understand the importance of balancing blood sugar, we can successfully maintain good moods, healthy weight, more energy, and so on. WE just feel BETTER!
So HOW do we do this blood sugar stabilizing thing?
It’s a good idea to focus on eating three nutritional meals per day with 4-6 hours in between each meal. Lets say, 7 a.m. breakfast, 11-12 p.m. lunch, 6:30 p.m. dinner, and bed at 9:30 or 10. We want to give our bodies a break for at least 12 hours from dinner to breakfast the next day so it can properly break down nutrients, rest, and repair during sleep.
No matter if you are eating Simple Roots fully prepared meals for 2-3 meals per day or making your own at home, you can do this!
Focus on a few simple components to keep blood sugar balanced. Focusing on foods in their whole form that add health to the body, and choosing to limit things that don’t necessary add health like gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, alcohol, and caffeine.
Our meals focus on protein, good fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and greens, to make sure we all stay full and satisfied for several hours without crashing down.
Think clean protein. Wild-caught, small fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and herring –small fish are less contaminated with heavy metals and toxins.
Locally raised meat from stress-free environments, like grass-finished meat - beef, bison, and lamb. And pasture raised chicken, pork, and eggs from local farms.
Those clean protein sources will benefit us by converting and breaking down that good protein into essential amino acids, which are great for our hormones and neurotransmitters. Wild-caught, grass-finished, pastured meats are SUPER high in omega 3’s, which fight inflammation. AND…protein is one of the main things that signals our brain when we are full, turning off hunger hormones.
Vegans – good sources of protein include MANY local and organic vegetables like broccoli and spinach, SPIRULINA is fantastic, nuts and seeds (like almonds, macadamia, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds, legumes like lentils, and there are many vegan protein powders on the market too. Just be careful because too many beans and lentils CAN spike blood sugar.
VEGETABLES (fiber rich carbs): We like to think about lots of COLOR. Where there is color, there are nutrients. We do our best to focus on low-carb detoxifying vegetables to keep blood sugar balanced and the liver cleansing. We want excess hormones and toxins out of our bodies!
What are some great low-carb, high fiber, blood sugar balancing vegetables that we LOVE? Try to focus on local first and then organic!
We love cruciferous vegetables to aid in liver health and detoxification (great fiber), like green and purple cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, arugula, and radishes.
Then asparagus, spirulina, cucumber, dandelion greens, and parsley herb are wonderful for the kidneys. Spinach is also a great source of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, vitamin K, A, C, and B6.
We LOVE LOVE LOVE the herb cilantro because it is a rockstar at detoxifying the body of heavy metals, balancing blood sugar, and its good for hormonal balance! Tanda always says to keep a bunch cilantro in a mason jar and to take bites off it as much as we want!
Purple and white sweet potatoes or orange yams are the more nutritional option for potatoes because they are slower to enter the blood stream, for blood sugar balance (especially coupled with a healthy fat like ghee or avocado oil) compared to regular potatoes, and they are high in nutrients and antioxidants. They also have a good amount of fiber, beneficial to liver function and hormonal balance.
Our third component… FAT! We LOVE fat.
Fat slows the absorption of carbs into our bloodstream, which is great for blood sugar and hormonal balance. Fat is where we get lots of essential fatty acids like omega 3’s. Good sources of fat include avocado, fatty fish like the ones we listed above, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut and coconut oil, nuts and seeds. 2-4 tablespoons of fat per meal is great!
When we take the steps to stabilize our blood sugar, its important to pay attention to how our bodies respond to foods and drinks we consume. Ask yourself how you feel… tired, bloated, great, energized? Take some time to do a little more listening to yourself!
Dr. Tanda Cook’s cookbook has some great recipes! You can get it on her website: www.drtandacook.com
Quick tip: Moving our body is so important to burn off excess glucose in our muscles for better blood sugar balance! So, PLAY. Exercise and enjoy the fact that we are able to move our God given body!
It is also cool to get a blood sugar reader to make sure your blood sugar stays between 80-120 mg/dl for optimal balance.
Side note: We aren’t doctors and we are not writing this blog to treat or heal any illness or disease. We work directly with Dr. Tanda Cook (ND) of Bozeman, MT, who stands behind Simple Roots Meal Delivery. Our educational content is based on what we have learned from Dr. Cook over the last several year. Also, referral from Woman Code, written by Alisa Vitti and Dr. Northrup.