We know that balance is good for our health. Equally important as finding work-life equilibrium is fueling our bodies with the proper ratio of nutrients to balance our blood sugar. Since we were kids, our parents told us that sugar would rot our teeth. They weren’t wrong about that, but what sugar does to the rest of our bodies is a lot scarier, which is why we don't have refined sugars on the Cleanse Diet.
Studies show that high sugar intake leads to a greater risk of depression in adults and can cause inflammation, joint pain, heart disease, stroke, weight gain, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. A blood sugar imbalance can also cause us to experience mood swings and serious cravings for donuts, candy, and other sweets. By balancing our blood sugar, we can reclaim emotional and physical equilibrium and drastically improve the way we feel.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE EAT SUGAR?
As humans, we’re programmed to love sugar. In nature, sweetness indicates that a food is safe to eat. To capitalize on these cravings, manufacturers add sugar to many of the foods we eat every day. This makes us feel good temporarily, but isn’t so great for our health in the long run. When we eat sugar, enzymes in the small intestine break it down into glucose. The glucose is released into our bloodstream where it’s monitored by the pancreas. When there’s too much sugar in our system, the pancreas releases insulin to control it. However, the body doesn’t always know when to stop.
When too much insulin floods the bloodstream, we experience low blood sugar, or “the crash.” Cue the moodiness, irritability, fatigue, and cravings! This is when we reach for a sugary snack to make it through that afternoon meeting, promoting a vicious cycle. Not only do these sharp spikes and dips in blood sugar wreak havoc on our mood and energy levels, blood sugar imbalance can lead to some pretty serious health issues that can otherwise be avoided with a healthy diet.
HOW TO ACHIEVE BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE
Regulating your blood sugar for sustained energy, emotional balance, and long-term health isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Swapping simple carbohydrates like white pasta, bagels, and bread with complex carbohydrates is a great place to start. Brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potato are packed with fiber and digest more slowly, balancing your blood sugar and giving you more sustained energy. Instead of eating high-sugar fruits like bananas and pineapple, opt for low-glycemic foods such as blueberries, green apples, and spinach, which release glucose into your system at a slower rate.
Essential fatty acids like cold water ocean fish, nuts, and seeds will also help balance your blood sugar and keep you feeling satisfied longer. Eating every few hours might also help when you are feeling low blood sugar, as long as you are making good snack choices. When you commit to a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and clean protein, you’ll be surprised at how quickly those afternoon cravings for processed foods and caffeine disappear.
Written by Kate Kasbee
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