Inflammation and blood sugar - do you know the link?
Inflammation gets a lot of bad press, especially its link to autoimmune disease. Not all inflammation is harmful as it helps you heal and protects you from pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. However, chronic low-grade systemic inflammation does more harm than good and is a risk factor in the onset of autoimmune disease and other diseases such as heart disease.
In this article, I will explain why high blood sugar might be the root cause of your inflammatory condition and how you can overcome the symptoms caused by this condition by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
What causes high blood sugar?
When you eat sugary or high carb food that is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, it leads to spikes in your blood sugar. In a healthy body, these spikes are counteracted by the effects of the hormone insulin, which is released from the pancreas. However, when you eat sugary or carbohydrate foods often, and this process happens repeatedly, your body becomes numb to the effects of insulin, leading to chronically high blood sugar levels, known as insulin resistance.
What’s the connection between high blood sugar and inflammation?
An insulin-resistant state is pro-inflammatory and can cause harmful damage to endothelial cells in your blood vessels, as well as other tissues. Unfortunately, a vicious cycle pursues, as more inflammation leads to greater insulin resistance and higher blood sugar. High blood sugar causes free radicals, which causes oxidative stress in your body - an internal rusting that can damage biological process and your own tissue.
In addition, high blood sugar leads to weight gain and obesity, as your body is in constant fat-storing mode rather than fat-burning mode. Adipose tissue, especially around the waist, is pro-inflammatory in and of itself and increases immune cell activity.
Combining oxidative stress, high blood sugar, and insulin provides the perfect concoction for the onset of inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune disease. Conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Alzheimer’s are linked to chronic inflammation, and the symptoms of these conditions are helped by addressing any underlying blood sugar control dysfunction.
What diet and lifestyle changes help inflammation?
Eating foods that are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, such as colourful vegetables, healthy fats, and good quality meat and fish, will help to improve blood sugar regulation. Using the glycaemic load index provides a good benchmark for choosing foods that are less likely to cause high blood sugar. A free app called the Glycemic Index & Load Diet Aid allows you to search for different foods to determine their score.
Eating good quality protein with every meal also helps to lessen blood sugar spikes after eating and incorporate high fibre foods and chewing food properly before swallowing, as this will slow down the digestion process.
Polyphenols found in plants may improve insulin sensitivity at the cell level, including curcumin found in turmeric, green and black teas, and the compounds berberine and resveratrol found in bright yellow and red plants.
Diet isn’t the only thing that may help improve your blood sugar regulation and chronic inflammation. How you live your life makes a difference as well.
Doing moderate exercise every day helps to lower the number of pro-inflammatory chemicals and promotes weight loss. Stretching, walking, jogging, lifting weights, and a short burst of high-intensity training are all wonderful ways to bring movement into your day. Or why not give skipping a try? I picked up a skipping rope for the first time in years recently, and I love the combination of exhilarating movement, coordination, and being outside, winning on so many levels.
Living life in a mindful state will help with stress resilience. Meditation helps to bring back focus and awareness to everything you do. If you find your mind wandering, pull it back to the moment. The more you live this way, the calmer and more resilient you will become.
If you are currently eating a high sugar or carbohydrate diet, wean yourself off slowly as you may experience withdrawal symptoms. In my practice, I guide my clients through a sugar detox focusing on reframing habits and transitioning to healthy and less sugar spiking foods.
These changes enhance their lives to ensure that they live more meaningfully, prioritising people and activities that will benefit their health for the long term. If you think blood sugar control might be the root cause of your inflammatory condition or autoimmune disease, please get in touch.
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