I am finding that balancing ones blood glucose can be the most effective way we can holistically create health in our lives. So many diseases come from long term chronic imbalances in our blood glucose levels. I am not just talking about diabetes here, I am talking about insomnia, brain function and memory, migraines, skin disorders, weight gain. You see most of the foods we eat are the main reason why we as a society have such imbalances in blood sugar. I even found that I was making some poor choices close to bed time that was causing me to wake at 3am and have a poor nights sleep.
Let’s take a look at something called glycemic load. Glycemic load (GL) is a way to determine how quickly a food is converted into sugar in the body. The higher the GL number the faster the food is converted into sugar. Foods with a high GL cause a surge of insulin to be released by the pancreas so the glucose can be used by the body’s cells or, if there is a surplus of sugar intake then for the glucose to be converted to fat as storage. Eating too many foods with a hight GL can cause weight gain because simply the body can not use all the glucose in the blood.
The flip side of that is eating foods with a low GL. These foods will be converted into glucose at a slower rate and rather than getting surges of insulin from the pancreas, it will release insulin slowly. This allows for a more steady amount of glucose to be in the blood, keeping the body from swinging from high blood glucose to very low blood glucose as what happens when eating high GL foods. When we have a more steady blood glucose we sleep better, experience less migraines, have better memory function, and maintain a healthy weight.
Some examples of high GL foods include foods like bagels, toast, over cooked pasta while low GL foods include vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, and proteins like meat products. Actually proteins are converted much more slowly into glucose than starchy foods and are ideal to eat to help maintain steady glucose levels. One thing to realize also is that there are proteins in vegetables also that work to maintain the shape and structure of the vegetables. Actually one of the healthiest snacks during the day are raw vegetables. Snacking on raw veggies every 2-3 hours throughout the day will keep you from experiencing swings in blood glucose levels.
I have begun snacking on raw veggies right before I go to bed to keep sugar available to my brain as I am fasting while I am sleeping. You may have heard that it is best not to eat after 7pm to maintain a healthy weight. This is true if eating after 7pm consists of a salad, a pasta, a meat, a dessert, and why not a beer to wash things down. If this is the case then I agree wiht the no eating after 7pm rule, however I completely disagree with this rule when I recommend eating vegetables just before bed to maintain constant glucose levels. It will keep you from waking with a migraine if you experience migraines, it will, get this, help you lose weight, because weight gain is primarily due to imbalances in blood glucose levels. Large swings in glucose triggers a stress response in the your body and a whole plethora of problems.
So take a look at the foods you are choosing to eat during the day. What is the glycemic load of the food and how is it influencing your blood glucose levels? Eat foods with a low GL. Snack on raw veggies during the day to prevent crashes and before bed if you are hungry. Do not go to bed hungry and don’t satisfy your hunger with sugary foods because you will sleep poorly and wake tired causing you to search for the one thing you should not search for, a strong caffeinated beverage. You can do it. Don’t give up on how much an impact simple decisions can have on your health.
Joseph Tonzola L.Ac., Dipl. OM