Did you know your body is constantly working to have a precise, consistent amount of blood sugar at all times? This is vital for energy production and balance. It’s also critical for mood, cognitive function and brain health. What you eat significantly impacts your blood sugar.
Normal Blood Sugar Regulation
When blood sugar rises above its normal range, your brain immediately triggers the release of insulin. This lowers blood sugar by storing the excess in your liver and muscles for later use. When your blood sugar level begins to drop, glucagon (another hormone) takes that stored sugar out of storage and back into the blood. And uses as energy until your next meal. This is how your body balances your blood sugar (glucose), which gives you a nice even flow of energy.
Dysregulated Blood Sugar
But what happens when you grab cup of coffee and a muffin on the go? Or eat a quick, carb-heavy low-fat lunch, say a sandwich? Your blood sugar shoots past the normal upper level. You feel this as a “sugar high.” Your body races to bring it down, (by releasing more insulin). If you do this repeatedly, a couple of things happen:
- It can lead to brain fogginess, low energy and trouble sleeping.
- You get fatter. Your body is designed to store only a small amount of sugar in the liver and muscles. Excess sugar gets stored as body fat.
- When you give your body more sugar than it can handle, it can’t revert all the excess stored sugar back into the blood stream. This feels like a “sugar crash”, so you drink more coffee or eat whatever is available to pick up your energy
- Excess insulin is repeatedly released to lower your blood sugar. If this becomes chronic, your body develops insulin resistance. Blood regulation mechanism breaks down.
How to stop blood sugar swings and have a more even flow of energy?
- Find your macronutrient ratio. In particular, check healthy fat intake (some of my favorites are avocado, coconut oil, almond butter, nuts/seeds). A meal of healthy protein, fats and carbohydrates gets converted into a nice even flow of energy
- Minimize sugar and flour to stabilize your blood sugar. Aim for less than 10% of calories from added sugars (this includes flour). Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
What to do?
- Commit to 10 days without any sugar or flour to help your taste buds and metabolism adapt to a lower sugar intake. This will help you get off the sugar-high-sugar-crash roller coaster
- Keep a Food Journal those days. Write what you eat. Set a timer for 2 – 3 hours later and make note about your energy (good, low, etc.), emotional balance (irritable, satisfied, etc.) and cognitive function (brain fog, alert, focused).
- Read ingredient labels. Sugar is in everything under different names. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, it’s likely your body won’t recognize it as food. If you can identify the sugar, aim for 5 grams of sugar per serving.
- Commit to a consistent sleep routine – regular bedtime and wake-up times. This helps with sugar cravings and consistent energy
You don’t have to give up all sugar, croissants, scones, bread etc. forever. Your body can handle a little sugar now and then. Aim for minimally sweetened, preferably using a natural sugar and indulge occasionally. Eat mindfully, savoring every bite. You may discover you don’t need as much as you thought you did. If you overindulge, take note in your Food Journal. Writing it down may help you stay the course at the next temptation. The more in tune you become with your body, the easier it becomes to make choices that help you feel good – having nice even flow of energy, emotional balance and no brain fog.
Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding – Brain Health Kitchen
Keep a Food and Mood journal for 10 days. What do you discover?