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Blood Sugar Levels

Blood Sugar Levels

The levels of sugar in the blood are tightly controlled by the body and it is important that they are stable in order to achieve optimal wellbeing.  But why is it so important to control blood sugar levels?  Read on to learn more.

What is the Blood Sugar Level?

The blood sugar level is the amount of glucose in the blood.  It is also referred to as serum glucose level.  It is measured in terms of millimoles per litre (mmol/l).  Blood sugar levels usually stay within 4 to 8mmol/l during the day but they are higher after meals and at their lowest in the morning.

Blood sugar levels need to be controlled as if blood sugar drops too low, a condition called hypoglycaemia develops and if it is too high, hyperglycaemia occurs.  Low blood sugar is associated with lethargy, impaired mental functioning, irritability, and loss of consciousness.  High blood sugar suppresses the appetite over the short terms and causes many of the long term health problems associated with diabetes such as eye, kidney and nerve damage.

How to Control Blood Sugar Levels

Weight control is one of the most important things when it comes to controlling your blood sugar levels.  Weight loss is associated with a rise in good cholesterol and an increased sensitivity to the sugar lowering hormone, insulin, which helps to control your blood sugar more effectively. 

You also need to be consistent with when you eat and how much you eat.  Sugar is the primary culprit when it comes to inconsistent blood sugar levels as, while it does provide a short term energy boost, too much sugar puts huge stress on the organs and glands that regulate blood sugar levels.  If you frequently eat sugar, the pancreas can become hypersensitive to it and overreact, flooding the body with insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to plummet.  This triggers the adrenal glands, which tell the liver to release glucose that has been stored as emergency fuel, once again flooding the bloodstream with sugar. 

It is helpful to avoid sugar as much as possible in the diet.  Also reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates that you eat, such as white breads and pasta, and white rice, all of which are quickly broken down into simple sugars in the body.  Instead, eat wholegrains, which are broken down more slowly, providing a sustained release of energy.  Fibre in the diet is also important as it slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, and stops rapid increases in blood sugar levels.  Soluble fibre stops the pancreas from releasing too much insulin by enhancing the cell’s sensitivity to insulin and improving the use of glucose by the liver.

Eat plenty of protein as it is essential for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands, pancreas, and liver, and stops you from craving high carbohydrate foods.  Eat frequent small meals instead of three large meals a day.  Never skip a meal.

Be as physically active as possible.  Exercise usually lowers your blood sugar level for several hours.

Psychological or physical stress can cause your body to produce hormones that stop insulin from working properly.  Therefore, stress management programs and relaxation techniques can do a lot towards keeping those hormones in check and thus keep blood sugar more stable.  Alcohol stops the release of glucose from your liver and can increase the risk of low blood sugar.  If you do drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation and always have something to eat first.

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