5 Steps to Balance Blood Sugar
Most of us have heard the term “insulin resistance” and “high blood sugar”, but what does this mean? Think of insulin as a key to the cell – it unlocks the cell and allows glucose into that cell to prevent blood sugar levels from rising in the blood. If we consistently have a diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats and processed foods, our pancreas can start to overproduce insulin and we can run the risk of not being able to lower blood sugar levels. So, one could say that a person’s metabolism is impervious to the normal effects of insulin and that regular insulin secretion has stopped working to stabilize blood sugar levels, regardless of how much insulin one person produces.
Balance your macros, Balance your blood sugar
Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Along with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients), they are the fuel that keep our bodies running and functioning properly. How much of each macronutrient should we be consuming? Let’s break it down:
Protein: a general rule of thumb is getting somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day.
Carbohydrates: Calculating your carbohydrate intake varies from person to person, it is not advised to go below 100 grams per day (especially for women). If you are exercising, then getting anywhere from 250 – 400 grams might be required to support muscle function and recovery.
When we look at the breakdown of macronutrients try to consume 5-6 meals a day and at each meal aim to get 20-30 grams of protein, 50-60 grams of carbohydrates and3-5 grams of fiber and fat for optimal blood sugar control. It’s important to note that these ratios are not set in stone and can look different for each person depending on their nutritional needs and health status.
There are also some general factors to consider when choosing your macro sources. Eat the rainbow! Choose brightly colored fruit and vegetables, along with some grass fed/free range animal protein/eggs, some whole grains (if tolerated), and healthy fats like olives, coconut oil, nuts, and avocadoes. Eat lower GI carbohydrates like greens, most fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables. Limit refined carbs like white rice and white bread.
Water is involved in almost every bodily function such as circulation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of wastes. It also helps your kidneys flush any excess sugar out of the blood, through urine. Water requirements can vary from person to person depending on the climate, our activity level, and diet. On average, we should be consuming about 8-12 cups of water per day. This all does not have to come from drinking water but can also come from the food we eat (like fruit and vegetables).
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Dietary fiber is broken down into insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber, which has the most beneficial effects for blood sugar control, includes foods like beans, cruciferous vegetables, avocadoes, oats, and pears. Along with fat, fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and prevents quick spikes in blood sugar. Some population studies show that blood sugar imbalances are related to inadequate fiber intake. So how much should one take? Aim to get 35-50 grams a day. If you are new to fiber rich foods, be sure to increase fiber slowly as it may cause abdominal discomfort like gas and bloating.
Regular exercise (3 to 4 times a week) can help you maintain a healthy weight, enhance insulin sensitivity, and help improve glucose metabolism. Choose an activity that you enjoy and try to increase your heart rate for around half an hour each session. It is important to have a combination of strength training, stretching and aerobic exercises as they all play a role in keeping your metabolism functioning optimally.
Eat Foods high in Chromium and Magnesium
Micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are important too! Especially minerals like magnesium and chromium. If you are not absorbing these minerals or getting enough in your diet, they may be a contributing factor to high blood sugar and even diabetes. Chromium works closely with insulin as it helps the uptake of glucose into the cell. Without it, insulin cannot function properly which may result in a rise of glucose levels in the blood. Foods rich in chromium are meat, mussels, oysters, egg yolks, whole grains, green beans, broccoli, etc. Magnesium also plays a role in glucose metabolism, among its many other functions. That is why a deficiency in magnesium may increase your chances of becoming diabetic. Foods rich in magnesium are tofu, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.