8 Tips To Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Do you feel sluggish at times? Afternoon slumps? Energy crashes? Brain fog? Well did you know your blood sugars could be to blame?
Below are our top 8 tips for helping you take control of your blood sugar levels:
1. Eat well balanced meals
Try and add a source of protein, carbohydrates and fat with each meal (these are our 3 macro-nutrients). This can help provide you with a feeling of fullness for longer during the day and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Lets for example make a well balanced smoothie...
Some options for these 3 macronutrients include:
- Fats: Avocado, dollop of coconut oil, chia seeds etc
- Protein: Handful of nuts, nut butter, hydrolysed collagen
- Carbohydrates: Frozen berries, organic spinach, banana etc
Bonus points for probiotics: Coconut kefir
All exercise is beneficial for overall health and managing blood sugar levels. However, a moderately vigorous effort, such as brisk walking, for at least 30-40 minutes, 4-5x times a week can significantly benefit insulin regulation and blood sugar levels.
Pilates and yoga are great low weight bearing, resistance exercises. We would recommend having a chat with your instructor if you are pregnant or in your postpartum period so they can make any necessary modifications to exercises.
3. Manage stress
Easier said than done right? Especially if you are a new parent. The problem with stress is that it can elevate levels of cortisol, one of our body’s main stress hormones, which can increase blood sugar and insulin levels. Cortisol also increases secretion of leptin, a hormone that plays a role in appetite control. Leptin secretion can reduce satiety and make you feel more hungry.
Yoga, meditation, breath work and self care are all important in managing stress.
4. Consider Myo-Inositol
Myo-Inositol is one of nine different types of inositol. It is a naturally occurring carbohydrate produced in the human body from glucose, although it is not a sugar. Better described as a ‘vitamin-like’ substance, Myo-Inositol is often considered to be a member of the B complex group of vitamins. However, because it is produced by the body in amounts considered sufficient to support health, it is not officially termed an essential nutrient. In addition to the body’s own production from glucose, Myo-Inositol is also found naturally in many foods such as organ meats, fruit, grains, nuts and beans.
A large number of clinical trials have shown that Myo-inositol improves both metabolic and hormonal parameters in women with PCOS via its insulin-sensitising effect, improving glucose tolerance, lipid levels, blood pressure and restoring ovarian activity, therefore improving fertility.
Research reveals that people who supplemented with inositol and folate had lower average blood sugar levels, known as HbA1c, in comparison to people in the control group.
2g of Myo-inositol, twice daily, for 12 weeks, significantly improved blood glucose control in postmenopausal women compared to placebo
4g of Myo-inositol daily for 6 months was able to significantly reduce acne and hirsutism (condition in women that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern) in young women with PCOS. Complete resolution of hirsutism and acne was observed in 32% and 53% of subjects respectively.
5. Minimise Processed foods
Eating foods high in sugar can contribute to abrupt blood sugar spikes, hormone imbalances, gut issues and insulin resistance. This is because when you reach for that block of chocolate or delicious sugary snack, you push your body to burn sugar for energy, rather than fat leading to a rapid increase in insulin. Hello high blood sugar levels, followed by a rapid decrease leading to brain fog, low energy levels, irritability etc.
6. Choosing nutrient dense carbohydrates
Let's start off with refined carbohydrates. Unfortunately these are delicious, but can also be quite problematic! They can cause inflammation, exacerbate insulin resistance, and should be minimised significantly especially for women with blood sugar irregularities such as PCOS, gestational diabetes, diabetes etc. These foods can disrupt ovulation, stress the body, weaken the adrenal glands over time, and lead to reduced levels of sex hormone production.
So refined carbohydrates, what foods are these? Well, it means minimising all the good stuff eg. cakes, biscuits, white bread, white pasta, soft drinks, delicious pastries, fruits juices etc.
Carbohydrates to consider:
These include whole grain flours. Quality is essential. It is important to check the label because it can often be a whole grain mixed with a refined flour. Multigrain can also be misleading because multiple grains that are refined are still refined grains.
Now the part you are waiting for…
Nutrient Dense Carbohydrates:
Please remember deprivation is never recommended. Please enjoy a cake or cookie every now and again! We are just recommending not to eat them all the time as a staple!
Root vegetables and winter squash (These carbohydrates are incredibly nourishing). These include: Beetroot, carrots and parsnips
These are great for women with blood sugar irregularities as they contain more protein than other grains and help keep your sugars stable throughout the day. We would also recommend pre-soaking these grains. This promotes nutrient absorption by reducing the phytic acid content which is naturally found in grains. The grains include: Quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat
7. Consider Magnesium
The pancreas requires magnesium in order to produce insulin, and to release that insulin into the blood stream in response to high blood glucose levels. Sufficient magnesium is also necessary for cells to respond to insulin effectively, so it helps glucose enter our cells from the blood stream.
Research shows that people who regularly consume adequate levels of magnesium through their diet and/or through supplementation are more likely to maintain healthy blood glucose balance. On the other hand, people who do not consume enough magnesium are more likely to develop problems with their blood glucose regulation. Increasing magnesium consumption through diet or supplements can lower blood glucose levels when they are chronically high and improve blood glucose control.
Good dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Supplements can help fill nutritional gaps when the demand for magnesium is higher than intake. Not all magnesium supplements are the same, however.
8. Fruits to pair with protein
Tropical and dried fruits. People with blood sugar irregularities (I’m looking at you cysters, should be limiting these to 2 servings a day). If enjoying these higher GI fruits, pair with a handful of nuts