In many of my blogs I often refer to foods that ‘spike your blood sugar’. I am going to explain why it is so important to avoid this – and why it’s crucial to eat a diet that promotes stable blood sugar, both for weight management and for your HEALTH! It’s actually pretty fascinating how this whole ‘thing’ works! Once you understand this concept and fully appreciate why it is SO important, it’ll be easy to make healthy choices. So, you ready to (possibly) learn a little something? Great! Then buckle up!!! 😎
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Let me start off by giving a quick example that may shed some light on the subject. When you eat a WHOLE strawberry with its fiber intact, that fiber slows down the digestion and the absorption of sugars into the body. Your system can chill out, taking its sweet time absorbing and circulating all of the essential nutrients from that succulent strawberry. When that same strawberry is put into a blender (or juiced), the fiber is now either GONE (if you’ve juiced it) or significantly broken down/destroyed. Therefore, the absorption of sugars are intense and immediate (due to the altered state or absence of the fiber) and your body freaks out, releasing hormones (insulin) and sh** to meet the demands of this attack on your body (and it’s precious cells). That attack causes inflammation in your body (chronic inflammation leads to auto-immune diseases, cancers, etc.), can lead to type-2 diabetes and fat storage in your cells.
The glycemic index measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar. So when you eat carbs (whether it’s bread that contains white-flour or whole wheat bread – OR “100% whole-wheat bread”), it rates on the glycemic index as to how it typically would raise YOUR blood sugar. Carbs that are broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream too quickly causes blood sugar to rise – and insulin to spike! This is bad, in case you’re wondering. 🙁
Carbs are also known as sugars. Fruits are carbs. Grains (whole or processed) are carbs. So the more processed or pulverized a grain, the faster the absorption because the fiber has been destroyed, causing a faster spike. Eating a ‘100% whole grain’ with fiber intact is the best option. — (Side note: when you buy whole wheat bread, that flour that is called “whole wheat” has been pulverized, the fiber has been altered significantly. It STILL raises your blood glucose! If you see bread that is “100% whole wheat”, that just means that SOME of the wheat was actually left “100% whole” and not pulverized. It doesn’t mean that 100% of that wheat is whole though. Make sense? There may be only a tiny bit of actual 100 % WHOLE GRAINS in the whole loaf! It’s better than none I guess. The best options are to eat grains that have some or all of its parts left intact. This will benefit you the most by slowing down absorption and not assaulting your cells! 100% whole wheat is a better option than ‘whole wheat’. And a million times better than an even MORE processed white flour such as in white bread, white pasta or pastries. Some good choices would be brown, black and wild rices, quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff and buckwheat.)
Kay, back to spiking blood sugar and why it sucks! Insulin is the fat storage hormone that is responsible for FAT, predominantly in your STOMACH. (I hate the word ‘belly’. I refuse to use it. It’s a stupid word.) So eating foods high on the glycemic index causes this hormone release BIG TIME! These high glycemic foods also cause cravings and are addictive. They screw with your hormones and the chemistry in your brain. They also increase your appetite and cause you to crave crappy foods that ……. you guessed it…..spike your insulin!
So the key to controlling your hormones (and brain chemistry) is to eat as much REAL FOOD (plant-based is the best because only plants have fiber!) as possible. There’s no need to closely monitor food charts for ratings on the glycemic index if you just follow common sense. Just remember that fiber is your BUDDY, slowing down digestion/absorption and controlling sugar spikes. Having a smoothie or juicing every morning, as amazing as these nutrients are, is not a great choice if you’re watching your weight. Have your smoothies with veggies and just a touch of a sweetener (whether it’s fruit or a bit of raw honey) and eat your fruits alongside it – WHOLE. OR, like anything, have your smoothies in moderation! (I’m not saying to give them up. I LOVE them myself, but I’m careful about frequency and what I’m eating WITH them.) And note, high-sugar/highly processed foods are NOT your friend! Just keep in mind…. MODERATION!
Lastly, activity plays into all of this too. Being active impacts your blood sugar. Exercising on a consistent basis lowers your blood glucose in general. And if you want to REALLY get crazy (yah, I’ve done this – so call me crazy!) you can test your blood sugar to get a sense of where you’re at. There are two ways to do this. You can buy a glucometer at a drug store or have an A1C test done. These measure the amount of glucose on your red blood cells. Glucometers test immediate effects of food/meal on your blood sugar and can be done at home. An A1c test is ordered by your doctor and is better for getting a glimpse of how your overall blood sugar has been over a 2-3 month period.
Lastly for REAL now, I swear – I’m almost done….. 😯 I really enjoy my glucometer! I know I’m weird so stop rolling your eyes 😉 ! Different foods affect people differently. Personally, because I’m a pretty healthy eater for the most part, when I indulge in a pastry or something unhealthy, I have a hard time keeping my eyes open. My blood sugar spikes and crashes FAST and I have a snooze fest! I was dying to measure this so I bought a glucometer (they’re cheap) and strips (they’re expensive) at CVS. There are two things you can/should do with a glucometer; a FASTING test (where you test in the morning before you’ve eaten) and a test after a typical meal. Your fasting test results should come out to 85 or lower. Your after-a-meal result should be no more than 140. If these numbers are off, you know why you MAY have weight issues! OR….health issues. Those insulin spikes cause a lot more damage than just adding digits on the scale . Inflammation is a result of constantly spiking your blood sugar with too many processed foods in your diet. And inflammation, as you all know (if you’ve been reading my blogs) is the root of gazillions of diseases (including cancers and auto-immune diseases). And of course, the constant demand on your pancreas to create insulin can result in type-2 diabetes!
So there you have it. Now, when I talk about foods raising blood sugar or causing insulin spikes, you (hopefully?) know what I’m referring to and why it’s so important to be in control of this. That’s my two cents! Spend it wisely 😉 . Have an amazing day 😀 !!!!