3 simple ways to improving your blood sugar levels

Our bodies are constantly requiring energy to function, our main of energy coming from carbohydrates (sugars). We often hear people talking about needing a sugar ‘boost’ or ‘rush’ when they might be tired or about to tackle a difficult and long project. However, what if instead of having that burst of energy followed by a dip which then requires another sugar ‘boost’, we had a constant steady source of energy, avoiding these highs and lows which for some people are often accompanied with moods swings?

This week, we will be looking at the foods that can be incorporated into your diet, helping to give you all the energy you need without suffering through those highs and lows, while also reaping other health benefits.

To start with we will be looking at whole grains and the difference they have with refined and how this influences our blood sugar levels. Whole grains are made up of three parts, the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. The germ and the bran are the part of the grain which contains nutrients and vitamins that are so beneficial to our health and help to feed the good bacteria in our gut. The bran is the part of the grain which contains the fibre and is also an excellent source of vitamin B minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants. The germ is like the heart of the grain and is full of healthy fats and vitamin E – which helps to reduce free radical damage. The endosperm is where we find the carbohydrates and a small number of B vitamins. When whole grains are consumed the first two components of the grain, the bran and germ act like brakes on a car, slowing down the absorption of the starchy carbohydrates endosperm resulting in a steady stream of energy. When grains are refined the germ and bran are removed leaving behind the starchy carbohydrates in the endosperm. So, when refined grains are eaten, there is nothing to slow down the absorption and the starchy carbohydrates and this causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly and then falling quickly once the energy had been used or stored, resulting in the highs and lows previously mentioned.  

So knowing that starchy carbohydrates are responsible for increasing our blood sugar levels, it, therefore, would make sense to look at increasing our intake of non-starchy carbohydrates with vegetables, such as carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, parsnips, artichokes, asparagus and celery, these vegetables are full of phytochemicals, vitamin C and beta carotene and fibre, which are great in supporting the immune system. By integrating these vegetables into our diets, they will, in turn, provide our bodies with a steady stream of energy, with the added advantages of increasing our intake of vitamins and nutrients.  

With the fall just around the corner, we will start eating fewer salads and looking for warmer foods, so one of the best ways to prepare these vegetables is either by simply roasting them with fresh herbs, a little olive oil and you will have a delicious side to meat or fish. Another option is to gently steam them preserving the water to make a sauce or add to your morning smoothie. Steaming is a great way to preserve vegetables nutritional value and they taste so much better. If you are buying canned or prepackaged vegetable, always look at the ingredients for any added salt or sugar, you may be surprised by what you see.  

Finally, another factor that will help blood sugar levels, is fat. Not all fats are equal when it comes to our health and well-being. Today we will be focusing on the healthy fats that contain plenty of Omega 3 fats, these are healthy fats that the body needs for many functions and health benefits, such as supporting our immune system, making hormones, improving our heart health, reducing cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels. These healthy fats are found in foods such as nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocado oil. For quite a long time, fat was thought to be very bad for us, until we understood the different types of fat and how they affect our health. So, even more reason to grab a trail mix when you need a quick snack, maybe adding a few dried raisins for a touch of sweetness.  

Roasted sweet potato, red bell pepper, red onion, leeks with salmon and arugula.

To start with you might to try out this roasted vegetables with salmon recipe, not only will it be helping to stabilize your blood sugar levels but you may actually find that there are many health/lifestyle benefits, such as having more energy, reducing your fatigue, improving your moods (no more highs and lows) and it will also help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and all the complications that go with it.  

Send your nutrition questions to susan@susanalsembach.com

Header photo: K15 Photos on Unsplash