Five nutritionist approved tips to manage your blood sugar levels

Blood glucose levels are increased by consuming carbohydrates which get broken down by the body – the more carbohydrates, the more glucose.

Nutritional therapist Cara Shaw explained what else can increase blood glucose levels: “Levels also increase when you’re stressed, as your body metabolises the proteins in your muscles to extract glucose and raise your blood sugar levels to evoke a fight or flight response.

“Your body can’t distinguish between types of stress (e.g. running for your life or running for the school run), it evokes the same chemical reaction (raising blood sugar) to help your body get into ‘survival’ mode and ready to ‘run’.”

There are several signs and symptoms which show that your blood sugar levels aren’t being managed including cravings, (particularly for sugar), low mood, low energy, as well as inflammation in the form of symptoms like acne, infertility and polycystic ovaries.

According to Cara, there are several simple, natural ways you can manage your blood sugar levels.

1. Sleep

The circadian rhythm helps govern how well your body functions and particularly how your blood sugar is managed. Cara said: “Poor sleep can mean that your blood sugar is negatively affected from the moment you wake up before you’ve even eaten anything for the day.

“The best way to ensure your circadian rhythm is supported is by prioritising sleep, of which for many is easier said than done. There’s a huge body of research which suggests that CBD can help with sleep due to its relaxing, anxiety-reducing effects. To encourage deep, restorative sleep, I recommend Sleep Deep from JP’s Originals (£28.99), a calming blend of natural herbal ingredients infused with 15mg of the finest full spectrum water soluble CBD to help you to switch off and let go of the stresses of the day end encourage restorative, deep sleep.”

2. Lower stress levels

Closely related to ensuring a good night’s sleep, controlling your stress levels is sometimes easier said than done.

Cara said: “If your stress levels aren’t in control, this can cause your blood sugars to spike as your body prepares to respond to danger. Furthermore, if you’re in a constant state of stress, it could result in keeping your blood sugar high for prolonged amounts of time, which can have a negative effect on your health.

“To relieve symptoms of stress, you can try simple relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or simply going for a walk. Taking yourself away from a stressful situation and doing something you enjoy is key. Take some time for self-care, listen to uplifting music, or talk to someone for advice.”

3. Limit fruit juices and artificially sweetened juices

Fruit juices are a form of carbohydrate that rapidly convert to glucose in the bloodstream.

Cara explained: “These can cause big spikes in glucose and a big crash later, likely leading to an afternoon slump in energy. Additionally, consuming artificially sweetened juices like squash may also spike your blood sugar, plus they can also affect your taste buds so that you are more likely to crave sweeter food.

“Everything in moderation is key. Whilst it’s ok to enjoy a sugary drink on the odd occasion, make sure to pair it with a meal that contains protein, healthy fats, and fibre to offset the load of carbohydrates. Moving your body after consuming any form of carbohydrates will help utilise the glucose in the bloodstream for energy, instead of circulating around the bloodstream or depositing it as fat.”

4. Eat your breakfast

There is a lot of confusing information about whether you need to eat breakfast or not. Cara said: “For most individuals, blood sugar can drop significantly after long periods of fasting. You may recognise your low blood sugar symptoms as being ‘hangry’ and irritable. Your body has “fasted” overnight and it is important to stabilise your blood sugar first thing by eating a balanced breakfast. Opting for a savoury breakfast over a sweet one will help maintain your energy and mood during the rest of the day.

“Some people can experience a rise in blood sugar when they wake up due to a surge in stress hormones, so making sure to give yourself the best nutrients in the morning will help stabilise your blood sugar levels and help keep them under control throughout the day.”

5. Opt for complex carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are needed in your diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle; however, you need to be careful with the types of carbs you’re eating, and how much you’re consuming, warned Cara.

She said: “If you have a whole plate full of white pasta, this will cause a much bigger spike than if you had a smaller portion of pasta, combined with protein and healthy fats. Opt for complex carbohydrates over simple ones to help slow down the rate of glucose into the blood. Complex carbohydrates contain lots of fibres to help slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream so opt for whole grain alternatives e.g. brown rice, whole grain bread, root vegetables, and grains like oats, quinoa and buckwheat.”

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