With just over 10 days till Christmas it’s hard to believe 2014 is coming to an end!
To celebrate, everyday till Christmas I’ll be posting recipes, including how to make your own: gingerbread; christmas condiments; shortbread and other desserts; and other subjects covering how to ferment; how to detox naturally after Christmas and more.
To kick it off, today will feature 2 posts (I missed yesterday). 1- How to balance blood sugar levels naturally 2- Avocado pesto “zoodle” recipe.
But before I get writing, here is a mini-glossary of the words I’ll be using:
Glycemia: presence of glucose in the blood.
Blood glucose/sugar: Blood glucose is a form of sugar (there are 3) found in our bloodstream, from the foods that we eat. It’s the bodies preferred source for energy/fuel for daily bodily functions and exercise.
Insulin: The pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone which transports glucose from the blood into body cells. Its says “I’ve got some glucose that needs to be used, so take me from the bloodstream and use me for energy”. Insulin is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and food into energy for daily activities.
Insulin resistance: When carbohydrates are eaten without a sustainable fat or protein source, our blood sugar levels spike very high and the pancreas overcompensates by releasing insulin. This leads to insulin resistance and can eventually become a major factor in developing Type 2 diabetes. However, by balancing blood sugar levels with a healthy diet and regular exercise, type 2 diabetes can be reversed. (Yay)
Glycogen: Glycogen is the storage form of glucose. When glucose isn’t stored in our body cells, it is taken to the liver where it is converted into glycogen and broken down to stabilise blood glucose levels, throughout the day and in-between meals. Stress and hormone imbalance can deplete glycogen stores and therefore contribute to blood sugar imbalance.
Hyperglycemia (Hi-per-glie-seem-e-are): Hy-PER-glycemia is the big fancy nutritional term for HIGH blood sugar. If you have hyperglycemia, you have excess glucose in your blood steam. It can lead to severe cardiovascular disease such as diabetes, pancreatitis or liver disease and is often caused by chronic stress, and eating too much carbohydrates at once.
Hypoglycemia (Hi-po-glie-seem-e-are): Hy-PO-glycemia is LOW blood sugar. This is an abnormal deficiency of glucose in your bloodstream, or low levels of glucose, simply put. This is often caused by hormonal imbalances, stress, skipping meals (including breakfast), not eating enough carbohydrates, drinking alcohol (more you drink the high the risk) or too much insulin.
Now your up to date, are you ready? Lets go!……
Balance glucose levels naturally and get healthy!
1- Balance sugar with healthy fats
Whenever we eat a carbohydrate it should be accompanied by a source of fat (eg Rye crackers with avocado). Fat slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood stream and prevents sugar highs and sugar crashes. This essentially keeps us fuller for longer and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
When we opt for a low-fat diet, we often replace the fat with a high sugar and refined carbohydrate, and experience sugar cravings and frequent hunger every 1.5-2 hours. How? Because fat provides satisfaction after a meal, whereas carbohydrates do not. Also, fat stimulates the liver to produce bile (made up of cholesterol, electrolytes and water) which is crucial for emulsifying fat and aids in digestion and absorption of other nutrients. On a low-fat diet, bile becomes thick and stagnant and can contribute to inflammation and blood sugar imbalances, causing potential cardiovascular issues.
Avocado, coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil, butter, egg yolks, duck fat, lard and tallow are excellent sources of fat.
2- Eat small meals
“It’s best to eat small, frequent meals to balance your blood sugar”- Have you heard that before? If so, I believe its true. Even though there isn’t much study to back up the theory, I believe eating 5 meals (3 main, 2 snacks) daily every 2-3 hours is essential for balancing blood sugar levels and controlling symptoms associated with it: adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, inflammation and comprised digestion.
If you’re diabetic, or know a diabetic, you would know they are recommended to eat a meal every 2-3 hours to maintain their blood sugar levels to avoid developing any hypoglycemic side effects, like seizures, pallid skin and irritability.
3- Don’t skip meals eat breakfast!
Break-fast should NEVER be skipped. If you’re not hungry, you may suffer from slow digestion due to inadequate stomach acid or that your stress hormones are out of whack.
When you skip breakfast, your body increases stress hormones and begin to breakdown muscle (not fat, muscle) to use for energy. Breakfast should be consumed within the first hour (preferably 30-40 mins) once you have waken up and should include a source of fat, carbohydrate and protein. For example:
- Quinoa, smoked salmon and avocado
- Banana, coconut, tahni and pumpkin seed smoothie
- Egg omelette with vegetables or fruit
- Quinoa granola with coconut/greek yoghurt
- Protein pancakes with banana + cinnamon
4- Protein is essential
Fats slow down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream. Carbohydrates provide your body with the preferred source of fuel: glucose. Protein helps sugar into the cells so it can be used for energy. – See how they all work together and without one or two of these macronutrients, issues can occur?
Of course, you need a balance of each of these macronutrients as deficiencies and over consumption can still occur.
When too much protein is consumed your body is required to remove more nitrogen from your blood which puts more stress on your kidneys. You also deplete your body of fat soluble vitamins:
- A: required for maintenance of vision, immune function, cell growth and skin health
- D: required for immune health and working with calcium to ensure your bones are strong and healthy. Not enough can lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults
The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your weight, age and health. As a rough guide, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein (measured in grams per kilogram of bodyweight) is:
- 0.75 g/kg for adult women
- 0.84 g/kg for adult men
- Around 1 g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years.
For example, a 75 kg adult male would need 63 g of protein per day.
To sum it up, here are the principles to follow in order to balance sugar levels naturally:
- Include fats, protein and carbohydrates into each meal
- Eat LOW GI foods
- Don’t skip meals
- Aim to include snacks
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day
- Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking
- Manage stress by enjoying relaxation and “me” time