In my last post, Blood Sugar Control - Understanding Blood Sugar, we went over the basics of sugar and the effects of our hormone insulin has on blood sugar. The big take-a-way of it all is that our goal is to have balanced blood sugar in order to help bring the rest of our health into balance - to protect our waistlines, our heart health, and reduce our systemic inflammation.
There are many ways to do this, but as a functional medicine trained nutritionist I always "back it up" to basics and start at the beginning.
LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS FOR BALANCING BLOOD SUGAR
Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, heart healthy fat and plenty of lean proteins is crucial in balancing sugar. As you increase protein and fat, your satiety increases and your desire for sugars decrease. CROWD IN leafy greens, colorful whole fruits and vegetables to CROWD OUT sugary drinks and processed foods.
If you want to change your health - you are going to have to change your habits. There is no negotiating here, however going cold turkey may be a recipe for disaster. We have found that the concept of crowding in new behaviors helps to ultimately crowd out bad ones.
Try not to focus on SUBTRACTING OUT the foods and habits that do not serve your health, but rather look at ways to ADD IN healthier things. Find ways to make vegetables and fruits the center of your diet, accessorize with lean proteins and heart healthy fats.
If you are a hamburger and fry freak - there is no way that having you switch to salads 4 times a day is going to work for you... right now. You will find that you start to order your burger dinner differently if you take an additive approach.
Start by ADDING IN a side salad to your burger and fry meal. Do not SUBTRACT the fries, but eat the salad first, then you can eat as much of the fries as you are comfortable with. By CROWDING IN the good stuff and not DENYING yourself the less than optimal stuff - you naturally avoid triggering the reptilian brain that is there to stop you from making too many changes too fast.
If you are a 2 donuts for breakfast person - ADD IN fresh fruit first then go ahead and eat your donuts. You will find that naturally your CROWDING IN the nutrient dense whole foods will lead to CROWDING OUT of the fatty fried foods and processed food like substances we are used to eating.
If you are a 6-pack of diet soda a day person, ADD IN sparkling or flavored water (using fresh fruit to infuse your water) or unsweetened tea in between your sodas. You will find that you are consuming fewer calories and doing less harm, and over time you drink more of the water/tea/etc and less of the diet soda.
Crowd In... but Brown Out.
It is ok to love your starches, but switching out white for color is your best nutritional bet in foods. Brown rice, whole wheat (if you are OK with gluten), steel cut oats - these are all examples of foods with many branches of fiber in them, slowing down the digestive process allowing for a slower, more steady burn of your energy fire. White rice, white flour, instant oatmeal all digest very quickly which means that the limiter on the glucose entering your bloodstream is basically non-existent.
The longer it takes to cook (sorry if you are an instant oatmeal fan) the longer the glucose will take to circulate, lowering your insulin release response. Additionally all that heart healthy fiber is going to be wonderful for your digestive system!
FAT! FIBER! PROTEIN!
The key to balance is to make sure that you are eating plenty of fat, fiber and protein in your diet. Notice that I did not mention carbohydrates, but rather said fiber. This is because we get so hung up on carbohydrates that we ignore that they provide us a KEY element in regulating our blood sugar, keeping our digestive system on track, and feeding our gut's microbiome. Fiber is no joke.
The key is to eat foods lower on the Glycemix Index list, eat plenty of protein (about 0.75-1g per lb of lean body weight), and add in heart healthy fats and fatty acids to every meal to keep blood sugar nice and steady.
If you are a fan of a morning smoothie or juice, all is not lost. You can ADD IN some upgrades to keep your tasty morning kick off without dropping a literal sugar bomb into your gut.
I Like to Move It Move It
Exercise also helps move the glucose into our muscles, improving our response to insulin. This is in part due to the GLUT transporters. The GLUTx transporters are the enacted during different processes and they shuttle glycogen to where it needs to be in order to be used as fuel for the varying systems. Doing some body weight work such as push ups or light dumbbell work such as arm curls can activate GLUT4 transporters moving the glucose into the muscles being used!
TARGETED SUPPLEMENTATION FOR BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
Sometimes we need a little #betterlivingthroughchemistry to help support our efforts.
My Top Hitters for Glucose Control:
Chromium picolinate has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Chelated Magnesium Glycinate has been shown to be one of the most efficacious magnesium supplements out there to improve intercellular Mg levels without digestive system upset.
Glucoresolve by Biotics Research is a new product for insulin resistance and stimulating AMPK but could also be used as a daily multi for those dealing with insulin resistance or blood sugar stability issues.
By making small changes daily that add up to sustainable change long term, you will be able to control your blood sugar, reduce your inflammation and live a truly shining life!
Jenniferlyn Kryvicky, MS, CFSPP, CHHC
Certified Functional Nutritionist
functional nutritionist, transformation coach, and lighter of paths.