Have you ever felt suddenly shaky, dizzy, hungry, and irritable? Also known as feeling “hangry”, this could mean that you are feeling a drop in blood sugar levels. But how can this be avoided? Below is some insight on how to keep blood sugar balanced.
When you eat food, insulin is released to help utilize the glucose from that food. Glucose can be used as energy immediately or stored for further use. This process can become impaired in insulin resistance, which occurs for a variety of reasons. For example, regular consumption of high sugar content foods can overwhelm this process, which will disrupt the glucose/insulin mechanism.
There are a variety of ways to keep your blood sugar balanced. These are general recommendations for informational purposes only.
- Keep meals balanced. Incorporate protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats into each meal. This will ensure that a variety of physiological needs are met, as well as reduce the likelihood of a blood sugar spike by slowing down digestion and delaying sugar absorption into the blood. (1– PMID: 24219323)
- When choosing carbohydrates, try to utilize the glycemic index and glycemic load values of the carbohydrate source – this basically means how quickly they raise blood sugar levels after eating (index) and the total amount of carbohydrates excluding fiber (load). This information is accessible online; for example – the University of Sydney in Australia has an extensive searchable online glycemic index database (2)
- Limit high sugar foods and drinks; soda, juice, and certain alcoholic beverages which are high in sugar content are likely to create blood sugar spikes and increase the likelihood of an irregular blood sugar response. (3 – PMID 18220450)
- Try to incorporate healthier snacks – recommendations around snacking will depend on your personal health history and conditions. Generally, snacks such as nuts, fibrous fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, whole grain crackers, low-sugar protein bars, low-sugar yogurt, and hummus can be enjoyed at regular intervals away from meals.
- Movement and exercise can help keep blood sugar balanced as well – even a low impact activity such as walking can help your muscles utilize glucose and may improve your body’s insulin response over time.
Reach out to a healthcare practitioner who would be able to test your fasting insulin and fasting glucose to calculate the HOMA-IR – a measure of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance will likely be elevated before there are changes in your HbA1c level, so it is an opportunity to take preventative measures regarding your blood sugar regulation and overall health. There are several treatment options that you can discuss with a healthcare practitioner to help improve insulin sensitivity.
As always, education is powerful when it comes to being an advocate for your own health. I strive to open the dialogue around preventative health measures, and the power of lifestyle modifications such as good nutrition and movement, to improve health outcomes. It is important to ask questions, especially when it comes to your health and wellness. Stay curious, and always remember to reach out to those who can help you on your health journey.
*Please note that this article is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a method of diagnosis or treatment. All treatment should be discussed with a healthcare practitioner.
- “Impact of Diet Composition on Blood Glucose Regulation” – Russell, Wendy R, et al. Journal: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Published online 23 March 2016. PP 541-590. Accessed online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24219323/
- “Glycemic Index” from the University of Sydney. Online at: https://glycemicindex.com/
- “The role of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in adolescent obesity: a review of the literature” – Harrington, Susan. Published February 1, 2008. The Journal of School Nursing. Accessed online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18220450/