Balancing blood sugars for a healthy lifestyle

By Kamara Daniel

Balancing sugars simply means maintaining the blood glucose in the normal ranges so that the body is neither depleted nor storing excess. Usually, this brings the concept of glycaemic load and glycaemic index into play, For one to balance sugars, these two must be into play to help the body be in the position to remain stable to perform its physiological functions.

 The glycaemic index of a food is the measurement of the rate at which food creates blood glucose, or describes how fast the food can release the sugars into the body, such as ice cream or soda compared to sweet potatoes or cassava.

Glycaemic Load explains both the Glycaemic index of food together with the total amount of carbohydrates present and can be best described as the metabolism of carbohydrates to release glucose to the body such as Sweet potatoes or posho compared to ice cream or cakes

When we eat foods with a high GI or a high GL we bring a rise in the blood sugar levels. This increase in blood sugar levels is often seen when we eat foods like refined carbohydrates (white bread, biscuits and cake, Mandanzi) and drink sweetened drinks. 

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When our blood sugar levels spike, the body releases insulin to remove this sugar from our bloodstream (to reduce the inflammation this causes) which moves the sugar into cells to be either used or stored. So balancing sugars is normally a play our bodies do between the GI and GL foods, however for a person to have normal blood sugars GL can be best when its portion control is not to lead to excessive stores.

People living with Diabetes would require GI index foods to hype their sugars in hypoglycaemia cases whereas they are guided in diabetic plate to maintain normal blood sugars.

Causes of high blood sugars

  • High consumption of fast, junkie and street foods that are highly refined, processed and with high calories but less nutrients, this increases the blood glucose high.
  • Blood sugar levels can easily shoot up when proper sleep patterns are deprived, there is usually a dawn effect due to sleep surges from 8 pm to 4 am, therefore, a proper rest could settle this.
  • Stress can trigger hormones especially the adrenal glands and glucose levels shoot up too.

When your blood sugars are not balanced, you will win yourself Diabetes Mellitus type 11 also known as sedentary lifestyle related Diabetes Mellitus.

How do you increase fiber in the diet and how does it work in regulating glucose levels?: Dietary fiber is also known as roughage eating. Normally these are found in whole fruits, whole foods such as posho number 3, whole bread, Kachumbali and dark leafy vegetables of all kinds. It is recommended to have at least 5-6 servings of such, here we are sure that the satiety level will be reached faster compared to when you miss them and take carbohydrates and other sauces to get satisfied.

How do you increase protein in the diet and how does it work in regulating glucose levels?: Protein breakfast could reduce unnecessary snacking while at workplaces that could foster GI increment, healthy snacking can be considered for seeds and nuts whereas eggs and pulses such as beans and G nuts would work better for you. 

How can one make swaps from sugars and why?: It’s usually exciting to make simple sugar swaps to replace the amount of GI at least 2-3 times a week. For example, swap high-sugar cereals with starchy vegetables or omelettes. Spice tea up with different herbs instead of sugar-sweetened teas.

Adapt healthy snacking to nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, peanuts, sim, instead of crunchy sweets and biscuits

Impact of stress on blood sugars: The impact runs to adrenal glands that alert the body for fear or flight purposes, to release glucose from all stores in the body, this, of course, raises the blood sugars intended to help the body in such circumstances, however dealing with stress and adaptability could reduce the and maintain the blood sugars.

How does less sleep impact blood sugar levels? There is a dawn effect and a surge in the morning hours 8 am to 4 am; for normal sleepers only, but non-diabetic people, this is catered for, whereas persons who sleep less than 7 hours, will need extra insulin to burn up the glucose, therefore this means that this person needs an extra activity to use the glucose.

How does chromium help in improving blood sugar levels among patients with diabetes? This supplement has shown maintenance of the range of blood glucose in normal persons though it doesn’t clear Diabetes from the body to persons living with it but maintains and levels it up.

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How does cinnamon help in maintaining blood sugar levels among patients with diabetes? This is a great herbal, Many people living with Diabetes have reported decreased sugar levels on continued usage of it, can be added to tea or food for persons who would love to maintain normal blood sugars.

What role does exercising play? This is the greatest deal ever, an average everyday 30-minute exercise is recommended for all persons, the exercises are many it can be walking, jogging, or intensive house chores among others. These increase glucose uptake by the cells and decrease it, creating the need for the intake of food; this keeps the body in a balanced form of blood sugar.

Kamara Daniel, is a clinical  and community nutritionist at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre-Kampala

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