Take Control of Blood Sugar Levels
Most people have at some stage experienced what it’s like when your body doesn’t have enough fuel. You start to have food cravings, feel irritable, shaky, unable to concentrate, and may even feel dizzy...
These sensations are caused by low blood sugar and are perfectly normal if you haven’t eaten for many hours, but if you notice these symptoms within four hours of eating a meal or crave something sweet within a couple of hours of eating a good meal, then your body may not be controlling it’s blood sugar effectively. As this can be responsible for many different health issues such as poor energy levels, mood swings, headaches or weight gain, it is advisable to look at your diet and lifestyle to see if you can improve the situation.
Your body is primarily fuelled by glucose, (a type of sugar, often referred to as blood sugar), which it makes from the food it consumes. The cells in your body need a steady, constant supply of glucose to carry out their functions and to provide you with the energy to carry out our daily activities. If this supply is inconsistent or poorly managed by your body you may start to experience the symptoms as described above.
From a nutritional perspective, problems with poor blood sugar control in otherwise healthy individuals, usually stem from two causes, the first of which relates to the foods you eat. If you eat too little food your body will not be able to produce enough glucose for its needs, so inevitably your blood sugar levels fall. Also eating foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) such as white bread or sugary foods, can cause an imbalance in your blood sugar levels. This is because structurally speaking these foods are fairly simple so they are broken down in the body very quickly. This causes a quick rush of glucose into the blood stream which will only sustain your body’s needs for a short period of time. This can lead to an energy slump or a desire to eat more food only a couple of hours after eating a meal. Diets based around the GI of foods have recently become very popular for improving energy levels and weight loss and there are many books and websites available with more information on this subject if you wish to find out more about it.
The second thing which can affect the way your body controls its blood sugar levels is how effectively glucose is carried into the cells where it is actually required. The hormone insulin is required to transport glucose into our cells, but as we get older our body can become less responsive to insulin, making it more difficult for the glucose to get into the cells.
Research has shown that certain nutrients can help improve the effectiveness of insulin in the body. The mineral chromium, which forms part of a compound called GTF (Glucose Tolerance factor), is required for insulin to transport glucose into our cells. Studies have shown that supplementing chromium can improve the effectiveness of insulin and many people find taking a chromium supplement helps their blood sugar control throughout the day, improving their energy levels and reducing food cravings. Chromium requires certain B vitamins & magnesium to be properly utilised within the body, so nutritionists often recommend that chromium is taken in conjunction with these minerals in the same supplement.
In addition to chromium, and cinnamon extract the powerful antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid has been shown to help improve blood sugar control. This is because it helps to improve the structure of the cells making it easier for insulin to do its job of transporting glucose into the cells. Alpha lipoic acid is usually supplemented together with acetyl-l-carnitine because this nutrient helps to improve energy production within the cells and together these two ingredients are thought to have anti ageing properties.
Finally, exercise plays an important role in the way our body controls its sugar levels. Regular exercise has been shown to help make cells more receptive to the uptake of insulin and the way it utilises glucose.
Managing your blood sugar levels is important for your health and wellbeing. Professionally speaking, as a clinical nutritionist, I have yet to see a patient who hasn’t benefited from improved energy levels and feelings of wellbeing after taking steps to improve their blood sugar control. So if you suffer from two or more of the symptoms below I recommend you take on board the recommendation from this article for one month and see what a difference it will make to your health.