HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS FOR CONTROLLING BLOOD SUGAR
By SUE VISSER
Our body needs a constant supply of glucose, oxygen and enzymes to maintain all its functions. A lack of these substances make us feel tired, irritable, moody, angry or depressed. Eating too much glucose or sugar at one time causes problems for the pancreas, as all diabetics have found out! We need to control the intake, uptake, storage and release of glucose if we wish to avoid blood sugar disorders such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Fortunately many foods can help us to control this situation. Providing you know more about these foods and when to eat them, blood sugar control should not be difficult. Firstly, stop buying and eating any more junk foods when you feel weak or hungry. Rather prevent hunger by eating something nutritious every two or three hours.
SUGAR CRAVINGS AND CHEATING
Simple starches and sugars are always going to cause problems for you as food was never designed to be eaten as pure sugar with no fibre, proteins, essential fatty acids and vitamins. This is why we have been making excessive demands on the pancreas, by eating too many simple sugars and drinking sweetened cool drinks. Even fruit juices like apple and grape juice contain simple sugars and no fibre, so it is preferable to eat the whole fruit, chewing it well. Your pancreas should not have to cope with big gushes of pure sugar, no matter what excuses you have about feeling weak. This weakness and craving for sweet things can be avoided. It is an addiction and has to be confronted as such. Low blood sugar is an indication of a lack of micronutrients that can be replaced by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, low fat meats and cheeses, soy beans, essential fatty acids and whole grain foods.
If you crave sweet things, the good news is that you should eat frequently, to avoid any sudden drop in blood sugar. Eat little and often and in so doing you will condition your body into always feeling satisfied. It also helps you to slim
Females need to eat as often as every two hours and males at least every four hours to maintain steady blood sugar levels. It is the type of food that you nibble and the quantities that are important. Choose snacks and little meals from your list of permitted foods and enjoy them. Keep nutritious snacks at hand when away from home to avoid going near your regular eating places where there are too many temptations. Remember that there is no virtue in going without food for hours on end as you will be upsetting this new regimen. Skipping meals and running on adrenaline and relying on stimulants like tea, coffee and alcohol to keep you going is not ever going to benefit you. There are plenty of substitutes.
KNOWING WHEN TO EAT FOODS THAT LOWER BLOOD SUGAR
There are specific foods that lower blood sugar. . These foods are: raw carrots, onions or pickled onions, cucumbers or gherkins, lettuce, herb teas, Swedish bitters, unsweetened tonic water, spices like: cinnamon, bay leaves, turmeric, rosemary, etc.
They can be taken at times when you are having the odd small treat that you know may cause your blood sugar to peak a little. If you have a meal consisting of only these foods, you may experience a hypoglycemic attack. Become aware of these natural hypoglycemic agents and combine them with foods that will provide a steady flow of glucose at the same time, eg: soy based protein or whole grained foods with salads, or pickled onions with cheese and biscuits. Did you know that Ancient Egyptians used to cure diabetes with onions? Just 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can treble the effect of insulin. Use these substances to your advantage. Remember that a large sugary snack also lowers blood sugar, but in a backhanded way as it first sets off a surge of insulin which, in turn, drops the level too low in pre- diabetics. In insulin dependent diabetics, a large sugar intake requires more insulin. If the insulin dose is too strong, hypoglycemia is caused. Such a yo-yo effect is not desirable and people should not be tempted to overdose with insulin to allow for such foolish sweet indulgences. Blood sugar only drops too low if it cannot be given back to the body from the reserves in the liver. We must attend to the mechanisms that help to release your own glucose again so you can avoid gaining weight.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FEEL YOUR BLOOD SUGAR DROPPING
Feeling weak, faint, shaky, irritable, confused and craving sugar? Hypoglycemia is drawing near. If you are used to reviving yourself with a quick shot of glucose, it helps for a short while but it is better to eat something substantial at the same time to avoid the ups and downs of unstable blood sugar. Eating a few raisins is a healthier alternative, adding some iron as well. It’s a good idea to keep peanuts and raisins in your bag for a pick me up. More adventurous people can use the Adelle Davis method of raising your own blood sugar without glucose: buy potassium chloride powder or tablets at the chemist. They are called KLOREFF tablets and cost about R1 each. Dissolve one in half a glass of water and drink it to counteract a hypoglycemic attack. This pleasant tasting drink works within minutes and prevents the reactive insulin surge that taking glucose or eating sweets may cause.
HOW TO PREVENT BLOOD SUGAR LOWS
Eating little, well and often is the golden rule. Attending to micronutrient deficiencies with a qualified practitioner will also help to supply vitamins and minerals you may be craving in foods like chocolate or sweet things. Always start the day with a good breakfast, even if you keep a box of fortified cereal or sugar free muesli at work. Also keep soya milk powder handy and some whole grain biscuits. Don’t drink fruit juices, rather eat whole apples and bananas, chewing them well. If you crave something sweet, try dates as they don’t seem to affect blood sugar as negatively as other sweet things do. Cut out all other sugars and use only fructose if you need to sweeten something. This is the only sugar that bypasses the need for insulin. It is better to quit the sweet addiction altogether and make your life less complicated. If you still feel surges of insulin eating up your blood sugar, remember that oils and fats will block the insulin receptors of cells. This immobilizes insulin. Good news if you have low blood sugar and bad news if you have high blood sugar. Diabetics know they have to cut down on fats, but we all still need essential fatty acids in the form of omega 3 & 6: cod liver & flaxseed oil and unsaturated oils for cooking & salads eg: olive, grapeseed & canola oil.