In America we love our classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, cereal, fruit juice and a cup of coffee. But could your meal of USDA recommended foods actually be killing you?
Since the late 1960’s, we’ve been told to “get the fat out” of our diet. Everyone from our doctors to the media colluded in the myth that fat was the real killer behind heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and more.
The research is now telling us that we need to be paying more attention to how we manage our blood sugar throughout the day than to that slab of butter we’re putting on our toast every morning.
Today, millions of people struggle with maintaining healthy blood sugar metabolism and end up developing any number of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, and hypertension. Unfortunately these chronic conditions have reached epidemic proportions and the future trends are disheartening.
Blood Sugar Issues Are Real
Today, an average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar per year1. Even though sugar can be used as a quick energy source by the body, we are just not built to continually process that much sugar. The long-term affects of too much sugar floating around in our blood, which by the way are often preventable, are nerve damage, brain fog, fatigue, loss of vision, arterial damage, weight gain (and more!).
Here is what can happen when too much sugar is floating around in your blood:
- It can overtax and damage the liver. Just like alcohol has the potential to cause liver damage, so can high blood sugar.
- Your appetite control system goes haywire. Important hormones that cause hunger and satiation fail to be stimulated and you get the wrong signals about eating.
- The body develops what’s called metabolic syndrome. The biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning are hijacked and you develop several correlated conditions: weight gain, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, low HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure
- Create more gut health issues. This includes leaky gut and systemic inflammation.
The National Institute of Health warns us that about 86 million Americans are affected by some kind of pre-diabetic blood sugar condition2. We are seeing diabetes rates rise and now this disease affects 1:11 people in the U.S3. Even more alarming is that scientists are now calling Alzheimer’s, once thought of more of a cognitive-related disorder…Diabetes Type 3.
What is Blood Sugar & Why Is It So Important?
Our blood sugar is just a simple sugar (glucose) that is dissolved in the blood. The brain, nervous system, and the red blood cells, must receive a constant supply of glucose to function normally. So the goal is to maintain blood sugar at optimal levels throughout the day so we can do all the things we need to do, while at the same time preventing harm that can be done if the concentration becomes too high.
When we eat or drink, most of the food (especially carbs) will quickly be available to the body in the form of glucose. So after we digest and absorb our food, we will automatically get a rise in blood glucose. How high our glucose goes is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps to take glucose from the blood and get it into the cells and tissues (muscle and adipose/fat) so that it can be stored for later use.
A normal blood sugar rhythm may look like this: fasting glucose range, spike in glucose within normal ranges up to 2 hours after a meal, and finally, glucose levels returning to near fasting levels in readiness for the next meal or bedtime.
Overall, people just feel better when their blood sugar stays in a healthy range throughout the day. This provides a balanced rhythm between appetite, energy levels, clear thinking, and the ability to have a good nightâ€™s sleep.
Measuring Your Blood Sugar
Luckily, there are some simple tests you can do to get a holistic picture of just what is going on with your blood sugar. And, itâ€™s also a good idea not to rely on one-single blood sugar marker when looking at your glucose metabolism and any correlated conditions.
- Fasting Glucose – requires 8-10 hours of fasting prior to testing and is a good indicator if the normal process of producing glucose along with liver and insulin functions is working properly. This can be done with a blood draw or using a personal glucometer.
- Post-meal blood sugar – this requires a tiny finger prick of your blood and a personal glucometer and is usually done 45-minute after eating.
- Hemoglobin A1c – blood test that measures the amount of “sugar-coating” on the red blood cells and a general indicator of glucose control over previous 3 months.
- OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test) – a 1-3 hour test that measures how well your body’s cells are able to absorb glucose (or sugar) after you ingest a large amount of a sugary solution.
- Fasting Insulin – blood serum test that measures insulin production by the beta cells in the pancreas and often used as an indicator for pre-diabetes.
Here are some good blood sugar measurements to use as “guidelines” for a normal healthy individual. It is best to work with your doctor or a nutritionist when evaluating diagnostic tests:
- Fasting glucose is ideally between 75-100 mg/dL (although numbers between 90-100 can mean a higher risk for developing diabetes)
- Post-meal glucose (recent meal was within the last 2 hours) is ideally between 120-130 and not above 140 mg/dL and it shouldn’t drop down below the fasting glucose number (possible signs of a hypoglycemic condition).
- HA1c should be between 4.5-5.4%.
- OGTT (post 2 hours after sugar solution) should ideally be <120 mg/dL.
The best predictor of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and insulin resistance is by taking your post-meal blood sugar throughout the day.
Testing Your Own Blood Sugar
It is very easy (and cheap!) to test your own post-meal blood sugar using a simple glucometer (a device used for determining the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood). You can also you this testing method to look at specific foods in your diet that you suspect could be spiking or raising your blood sugar (even though they may be on the low-glycemic side).
- Inexpensive. A glucometer can be purchased at a local pharmacy or online starting at about $20 (the test strips will be an additional cost).
- Easy & Convenient. You don’t need to go to your doctor to do the test. You simply do a blood prick and slip the test strip into the meter from wherever you might be.
- Has the Personal Touch. Instead of relying on standard charts and diet plans, you can measure which foods in your diet keep blood sugar at optimal levels and which raise it over healthy limits. You have the flexibility to remove and add foods as you see fit for your blood sugar metabolism.
- Safe & Less Stressful. Using a personal glucometer safely tests your blood under normal conditions without having to fast or drink excessive syrupy glucose solutions over a 1-3 hour period along with multiple blood draws.
Just to Recap Facts About Blood Sugar Balance
- Alzheimer’s is now being called “Diabetes Type 3” and has it’s roots in long-term blood sugar imbalances
- Your diet is the single most influential factor when it comes to your blood sugar levels
- Common symptoms of blood sugar issues include being tired throughout the day, reaching for coffee or sugar throughout the day to boost your energy, uncontrollable appetite, brain fog, inability to lose weight no matter what you do, and problems falling and staying asleep for a good 7.5-8 hours
- You can manage your blood sugar easily throughout the day by paying attention to your diet and introducing some good healthy lifestyle routines.
1 Sourced from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/08/30/how-much-sugar-are-americans-eating-infographic/#35b7fb2f4ee7
2 National Institutes of Health. Sourced from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/national-diabetes-month-take-steps-improve-diabetes-outcomes
3 Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Source from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html
Disclaimer: the views and nutritional advice expressed in this publication are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical advice. No information provided should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. All information in this publication is for educational purposes only and Aine-Marie and Advesta Health encourages its clients and members to continue to work in a partnership with qualified medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider or seek medical assistance. Reading, sharing, or downloading this publication does not establish a doctor patient relationship with Aine-Marie or any Advesta Health employee or consultant including any of our licensed health practitioners, coaches, dieticians or nutritionists.