Can we ever escape sugar?
You cannot get away from sugar – it appears to be in everywhere including the daily news. If we are not hearing about Jamie Oliver’s sugar tax and rising obesity rates, we are learning about the recent activity of fizzy drinks involvement in Government nutrition and diet advice.
So why is this all so important to our health? In fact, glucose is one of the main sources of fuel for the body. When we are healthy, glucose obtained from our food is directed towards our cells to aid in the production of energy. However when we consume too much glucose or in a form that is too readily available for example white refined foods such as bread, rice and sugar, the body may have trouble directing all of it straight to the cells. This can lead to imbalance in blood sugar levels. Symptoms of this are: sugar/carbohydrate cravings, headaches, weight gain, low energy, energy dips, waking in the middle of the night and premenstrual syndrome. If this imbalance continues then the risk of developing chronic conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s is increased.
In a world where we are bombarded with quick, easy, processed food options with little nutritional value and high sugar content it is very easy to develop a blood sugar imbalance. Typically a lot of people start the day with a coffee and a pastry or a sugary breakfast cereal rather than making a healthy balanced breakfast. However once you start the habit of investing in breakfast, you won’t go back. Good breakfast choices are porridge or homemade muesli with nuts, seeds and topped with one piece of fruit served with plain natural yoghurt, milk or a non-dairy milk such as coconut milk. Poached, scrambled or boiled eggs are also great choices with either one slice rye toast or a couple of oatcakes, sautéed spinach, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and/or beans.
Other tips to support blood sugar levels are:
- Eat protein at each meal or snack, protein slows down the release of glucose and keeps you fuller for longer, helping you curb the cravings.
- Don’t skip meals, if you need to snack in between meals only have two a day, one mid morning and one mid afternoon and always include protein. Skipping meals may make your blood sugar drop too low, this can make you tired, hungry and grumpy increasing the urge for a high sugar food.
- Add cinnamon to foods – some studies show that it may slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and it also adds sweetness to foods.
- Eat complex carbohydrates and avoid white refined carbohydrates for example white bread, rice, pasta, flour, sugar, sugary drinks including fruit juices and smoothies and cakes.
- Eat foods rich in chromium, chromium is used in insulin and glucose metabolism and becomes depleted in diets high in sugar. It can be found in asparagus, apples, eggs, ripe tomatoes, whole grains, romaine lettuce and raw onions, these can be chopped finely and added to salads.
- Magnesium is also needed to support the metabolism of glucose – foods to include are spinach, green leafy vegetables i.e. broccoli, cauliflower and kale, other sources are squash, pumpkin seeds and halibut.
- Reduce coffee and increase green tea, some studies also show it reduces glucose levels in the blood and insulin levels.
- Add apple cider vinegar to vegetables and salads, as it may lower glucose and insulin levels in healthy people.
- For more advice contact a nutritional therapist. If you are diabetic do not change your diet without seeking advice from you doctor.
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