Pretty appropriate to talk about blood sugar levels on today of all days. All across the country children are walking the streets in an effort to see who can bag the most candy. I have read reports of dentists paying kids for their candy, people handing out veggie bags, or some other alternative to the huge sugar load that is associated with Halloween. Just as I was driving around running some errands this evening I saw many kids already fighting an obesity battle that definitely didn’t need to send their body a glucose rush.
Blood sugar (or blood glucose) is important. It is more than important…it is vital for life. Without glucose your cells couldn’t manufacture energy. Your brain would stop working. Your heart would stop pumping blood. Your muscles would stop moving. Your liver would stop clearing toxins. You would stop…permanently. So without a doubt this is an important topic.
What many fail to realize is that everything you consume is in essence broken down into glucose to be removed from the bloodstream and placed into the trillions of cells in your body. When this complicated process works well you have efficient energy production, you are able to nourish all the cells of your body and bathe them in life-giving nutrients, and you are able to reproduce more healthy cells and repair damaged ones.
For glucose to get into the cell it first must bind to an insulin receptor found on the cell membrane. From there it creates a cascade of intercellular events that allows the mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse and producer of energy) to utilize the glucose for energy production. This drives every process in your body. When glucose enters the blood stream in a controlled manner, with avoidance of high spikes and low troughs, then this system works very well and gives desired results. However, when this system is altered and there are high fluctuations in blood sugar levels there begins to be a breakdown on how the variety of messages begin to “talk” to the cell.
If blood sugar levels are too high all the time, and you are forced to over-produce insulin to try and counteract this effect, you are in essence always screaming at your cells to stuff themselves with more glucose. When this goes on and on and on with no break the cell begins to decrease the insulin receptors on the membrane. Really what happens is when you are always shouting (too high glucose) your cells just decide to ignore you (decreased insulin receptors and development of insulin resistance).
Imagine what happens in a standard day for most people. They wake up from an eight hour fast and if they even “break their fast” it is usually with something like a donut, danish, and coffee. Most people skip breakfast each day. When blood sugars are very low and then you consume a very high sugar muffin your blood sugar levels jump sky high. Your body has to do something since blood glucose in the blood stream in excess amounts is very damaging. So it overproduces insulin from the pancreas. This stresses the pancreas and causes for a rapid decline in blood sugar levels. These then drop too low and you get jittery, fatigued, crave more carbs, anxious and irritable. The solution for most is to hit the vending machine, get their Coke and Snickers and repeat the cycle…day in and day out.
Here are some tips to always “talk right” to your cells in regards to glucose and insulin:
- Never skip meals, especially breakfast
- Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up
- Eat every 2-3 hours. All meals and snacks should be a combination of protein, healthy fats and unrefined carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index
- Avoid processed foods, “white” sugary foods, and foods with a high glycemic index
- Exercise is a great way to get blood sugars from the blood stream, into the cell, independent of insulin…so make sure you are moving right like we talked about before
- Stop drinking soda water and high sugar drinks
Want to feel better and have more energy? Start working on how glucose is talking to your cells.