Your blood glucose level is important when it comes to your metabolic health. Metabolic health is a term that describes how well we generate and process energy in the body. Our metabolic health can be improved by consistently making choices that keep glucose levels in a stable and healthy range and help minimize large glucose swings.
So, what is glucose? Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it's also formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of our body. Your blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood.
However, high blood glucose levels have been linked to inflammation which leads to numerous chronic conditions, from diabetes*(see infographic below) to heart disease, learning disabilities and mental illness.
The good news is most people can control their blood glucose levels by diet and lifestyle.
These choices may include selecting foods that don’t cause large spikes in glucose or improve our processing of glucose, in addition to lifestyle habits like exercising, getting quality sleep, not smoking and managing stress.
Follow these 8 nutrition tips to help manage your blood glucose levels.
1. Eat earlier in the day: Consider consuming all of your day’s worth of calories in a short window and avoid eating the rest of the time. Timing of food intake matters: our bodies are naturally more insulin resistant at night, so the same food eaten in the morning tends to have much less of a glucose spike than that food eaten at night.
2. Eat more fibre: High fiber diets appear to improve glycemic control in diabetic individuals. Most of us lack fibre in our diet so adding more, from a variety of sources – beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts, will benefit our overall health.
3. Eliminate added sugar and refined food: Consuming unrefined, low glycemic foods will likely lead to lower glucose spikes and improved metabolic health over time. So generally, any food in its natural form will cause less of a glucose spike.
4. Consider pairing carbs with protein and healthy fats: Eating carbohydrates alone is likely to spike glucose more than if the carbohydrates are eaten with fat and/or protein. And when looking for carb sources, try to choose fibre rich ones.
5. Drink vinegar: Vinegar is known to have a glucose-lowering effect when taken before or with a meal. Try drinking 1-oz of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar before a meal.
6. Don’t drink too much water with meals: Proper hydration is important but multiple studies have shown that drinking a large amount of water with a meal will increase the glucose and insulin peak after a meal, likely because the fluid load speeds entry of food into the small intestines for rapid glucose absorption. So, space out large amounts of liquids an hour or two from meals.
7. Limit saturated fat: Eating high amounts of saturated fat has been shown to acutely decrease whole-body insulin sensitivity by about 25%. Saturated fats include fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, dark chicken meat, poultry skin, dairy foods(milk, butter, cheese), tropical oils like coconut and palm, and margarine. Instead, choose unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocado, fish, soybeans and tofu.
8. Sprinkle some cinnamon: Compounds in cinnamon have been found to improve insulin signaling and glycemic control through several potential mechanisms. This is true even in individuals who are non-diabetic. Ways to include more cinnamon in your diet include adding it to fresh apples, sweet potatoes or baked squash. Try sprinkling cinnamon on your coffee, cappuccino or latte instead of sugar or flavoured syrups.
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