Your glycemic control is utilized to measure your body’s ability to stabilize and manage blood glucose, or blood sugar levels. When we think of high blood sugar, type II diabetes can often be linked to this as it is focused in poor glycemic control and higher blood glucose levels. However, those with diagnosed chronic conditions are not the only ones who should be keeping a close eye on insulin and blood glucose.
Our blood sugar levels can be affected by a number of things, as is common when discussing body processes and systems; it is always connected. Most commonly known is food and nutrition; consuming something that is high in sugar and low in fiber will most often create a spike in blood sugar levels, with a quick drop to follow, leaving most people tired, foggy, and wanting more sugar. In this state of quick-changing blood glucose levels and emotions, the body finds itself in a high sympathetic, or stressed state. The body releases increased cortisol, the stress hormone, and it creates changes in the blood flow to overstimulating the liver to make more and more glucose over time. If this type of process is done over and over again, the body will have increased chronic stress, chronically elevated cortisol levels, and higher insulin levels to lead to insulin resistance, that precursor to type II diabetes and a number of other health concerns.
With this in mind, it is important to prioritize foods and lifestyle habits that help keep us out of a continuous sympathetic, or stressed state, and keep our blood glucose levels stable. So, how do we do that? It takes plenty of time and consistency, but below are a few simple additions in your life that create large change in blood sugar levels:
●Stress management techniques – Something that I discuss with all of my nutrition patients, no matter the condition or concern, is stress and how to manage it. As we discussed, when you are stressed, the body releases cortisol in order to give your body that energy needed to fight or flight in the face of a threat. It isn’t always a bad thing, but if this is happening regularly and chronically, it will negatively affect all areas of health. So, some things that you can do are sleep and breathe. Simple, but often not done intentionally. If you have questions on how to do those intentionally, make sure to look at my stress management posts!
● Walking after eating – This easy activity can create a long list of health benefits for those who take part on a regular basis. Some benefits include improved digestion, decreased stress, improved blood flow, and reduced muscle soreness. Improved blood sugar management is also included, and as little as 10 minutes of walking post-dinner can significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to other times of the day.
● Magnesium and omega-3’s – These components found in food and high quality supplements place a focus in allowing the body to prevent and cope with stress. We are often deficient in magnesium, and have diets higher in omega-6 fatty acids rather than omega-3’s. Try incorporating foods like dark leafy greens, almonds, dark chocolate, beans, edamame, bananas, and potatoes to naturally increase magnesium levels through food, as well as cold water fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, flax seeds, and walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids.
● Apple cider vinegar – Although it has been boasted as a cure-all product for weight loss and a number of other things, small studies have given light to its specific benefits in blood sugar management. Apple cider vinegar supplementation has been studied to lower blood sugar levels and increase vitamin E concentration in both diabetic and non diabetic animal subjects. However, apple cider vinegar may negatively affect those with gastroparesis and weakened tooth enamel due to its high acidity. If you choose to try it out, make sure to dilute it in water in a ratio of 1:10.