Easter is fast approaching, and the shops are jam-packed with chocolate and sugary treats around every corner. The smell of hot cross buns is hard to miss. When you have health goals you’re working on, is it any wonder that fighting the temptation to indulge can be bigger than Ben-Hur? In fact, did you know that in the last 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled globally? This is largely due to added sugars in processed foods 1. Being aware of how sugar affects your body can help you make informed choices about your diet and avoid consuming excessive amounts.
Consuming excessive amount of sugar can lead to blood sugar imbalances, leading to a range of symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, headaches, acne and irritability.
What is sugar?
Sugar is found in all types of food that we eat and is a general name for all carbohydrates that are sweet. Refined or processed sugar lacks vitamins and minerals and provides the body with a quick source of energy, as it digests quickly, in the form of glucose.
How does our body process sugar?
Refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods like hot cross buns, easter eggs, chocolate bars, and sweetened drinks provide our bodies with a quick source of energy.
When you eat these foods they are digested and broken down into glucose, a simple sugar that is absorbed into our bloodstream. As blood glucose levels have increased our bodies sense this and the hormone insulin is released from the pancreas. Insulin’s main role is to regulate glucose levels in the blood and allow it to be taken up into the cells so they can be used for energy. Our liver also helps to regular blood sugar levels as excess sugar is stored here as glycogen. When blood sugar is low our hormone glucagon, also released by the pancreas, activates the liver to break down glycogen into glucose. Glucose is then released into the bloodstream to maintain stable blood glucose levels 2.
What happens when blood sugar is imbalanced?
If glucose is not able to enter the cell to be used for energy it accumulates in the blood. This can be problematic for several reasons. If the cells of the body don’t get glucose to use for energy, they can’t function effectively. Glucose is an essential fuel for the brain and if it doesn’t receive enough supply from the blood it leads to poor concentration, lack of clarity, and poor focus 3. When we continuously consume sugars in convenience foods it provides us with excess energy our bodies store as fat.
Do you feel tired? Did you know that sugar can have a sedative effect as it reduces the effectiveness of Orexin, a brain chemical, that regulates wakefulness and appetite?
4 Tips to stabilise blood sugar levels.
- Eat good quality protein.
- Incorporate healthy fats into your meals: Avocado, Olive oil, nuts and seeds.
- Stay hydrated: Firstly, the thirst signal can be mistaken for hunger and secondly, if you are dehydrated this can concentrate blood sugar levels 4.
- Spice things up with cinnamon and cacao. Cinnamon can help to stabilise blood sugar levels and cacao help improve insulin sensitivity 5,6. These can be added to yoghurt, porridge, smoothies or bliss balls.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Consume adequate fibre. This keeps you feeling fuller for longer and may delay the absorption of sugar 7.
Do you think you may have a blood sugar imbalance? We offer a personalised nutritional program tailored to optimise your health and bring back the balance. To find out more follow the link to Metabolic Balance.
- Lustig, R., Schmidt, L. & Brindis, C. (2012). The toxic truth about sugar. Nature 482, 27–29. https://doi.org/10.1038/482027a
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). 10 Surprising things that can spike your blood sugar. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/blood-sugar.html#:~:text=For%20people%20with%20diabetes%2C%20blood,to%20make%20more%20blood%20sugar.
- Healthline. (2020). Can Diabetes cause brain fog? . Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/brain-fog-diabetes
- Johnson, E. C., Bardis, C. N., Jansen, L. T., Adams, J. D., Kirkland, T. W., & Kavouras, S. A. (2017). Reduced water intake deteriorates glucose regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.), 43, 25–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2017.05.004. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28739050/
- Mollazadeh, H., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2016). Cinnamon effects on metabolic syndrome: a review based on its mechanisms. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences, 19(12), 1258–1270. https://doi.org/10.22038/ijbms.2016.7906
- Ramos, S., Martín, M. A., & Goya, L. (2017). Effects of Cocoa Antioxidants in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 6(4), 84. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox6040084
- Barber, T. M., Kabisch, S., Pfeiffer, A. F. H., & Weickert, M. O. (2020). The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients, 12(10), 3209. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103209