Blood sugar refers to the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood at any given time. Glucose is the body's preferred source of fuel. The brain, nervous system and red blood cells cannot function without continuous supply of energy from blood glucose; however, we must pay close attention to the quantity and quality of glucose/carbohydrate that we consume, the food source from which it comes, and the quality of its ingredients.
The glycemic index or GI is a value assigned to a carbohydrate-containing food based on the rate at which it affects blood sugar levels. Factors that affect the GI include total fiber content, protein and fat content, and carbohydrate quality (that is, whether the carbohydrate comes from a refined source or from a whole foods source). Foods with a high GI rapidly increase blood sugar levels and include highly refined and processed foods such as breads, pastas and crackers; and sugars and sugary foods such as candies, pastries, soft drinks and corn syrup. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and carrots also have a high GI. Foods with a low GI help balance blood sugar, reduce carbohydrate cravings and are effective for weight management. Whole foods such as lean meats, fish, beans, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains typically have a low glycemic index.
Balancing blood sugar is important for optimal physical and emotional health regardless of whether you have diabetes, hypoglycemia or blood sugar management issues. A steady supply of glucose is essential to fuel optimal brain function, and therefore, low blood glucose can cause headache, irritability, anxiety and depression, dizziness, fatigue and poor endurance. Low blood sugar can also cause sugar cravings leading to erratic eating patterns.
Here are some general recommendations for sustaining blood sugar.
·Eat at regular intervals, about every 3-4 hours, including 3 meals and 1-3 snacks daily.
·Avoid skipping meals and eating excessively large portions of refined carbohydrate such as white flour or corn syrup.
·Eat balanced snacks or meals that include whole foods containing protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy and high quality fats, and fiber. A balance of macronutrients will slow digestion and moderate blood sugar.