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The importance of eating to balance blood sugar levels for our energy, mood and general health - By Lachlan Trowell

28.04.24

In the realms of health & wellness, the term “blood sugar” is becoming increasingly more and more discussed as an area of nutrition that everybody, not just diabetics, should be focusing on in the pursuit of better energy levels, mood stability, weight management and overall general health.

What Exactly is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar, or put more simply ‘glucose’, is the primary source of energy for our bodies, especially for our brains and muscles. It comes in varying amounts from the foods we eat, particularly carbohydrates. When we consume carbohydrates, they are broken down throughout the digestive system into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream.

Eating in a way that controls and balances blood sugar levels is essential for multiple reasons, including but not limited to:

Energy Levels: When blood sugar levels are balanced, there is a steady supply of energy throughout the day due to glucose being our body’s primary energy source. When our blood sugar levels drop too low (hypoglycemia), we may experience feelings of tiredness, irritability, or shakiness. Whereas if they spike too high (hyperglycemia), we can experience symptoms that impact our energy levels directly such as fatigue, or symptoms that impact our energy levels indirectly such mood swings or dehydration.


Mood Stability: Blood sugar fluctuations can also affect your mental state. When blood sugar levels are stable, you're more likely to feel calm and focused and have better resilience to daily life stressors. However, spikes and crashes can lead to mood swings, irritability, an inability to focus and even anxiety or depression in some cases.


Weight Management: High blood sugar levels can contribute to weight gain. When blood sugar spikes, the body recognises this and prompts the pancreas to release insulin in order to help bring blood sugar back into balance. Insulin, however, is also a hormone that promotes fat storage. Over time, frequent blood sugar spikes may lead to increased fat storage, particularly around the abdomen.


General Health:
Chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where the body's cells become less responsive to the blood sugar lowering effects of insulin. If lifestyle or pharmaceutical interventions aren’t put in place this insulin resistance can eventually lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes, a serious health condition that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other complications.

Tips to Control and Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels

So, what should our diet include and what eating habits should we be practicing in order to control and balance our blood sugar levels? Here are some tips:

Choose Whole Foods: Base your diet primarily around whole, fresh and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, animal & plant proteins and healthy fats. The consumption of these foods will ensure your intake of dietary fibre is high, which assists in balancing blood sugar as it can help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.


Eat Every 3-5 Waking Hours: Aim to consume a main meal at regular intervals throughout the day (every 3-5 hours) to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Eating too frequently, skipping meals or going too long without eating can all contribute to blood sugar imbalances.


Monitor Your Carbs: Be mindful of your carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbs like white bread, sugary cereals etc. As a rule of thumb, the more active you are in your daily lifestyle the more carbohydrates your body should be able to tolerate - but quality does matter. Opt for complex carbs like whole grains, coloured rice (red, black, wild) and starchy vegetables, all of which are digested more slowly.


Include Protein & Fats At Each Meal: Protein and healthy fats can help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, leading to more stable blood sugar levels. This is because different macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins & fats) are absorbed at different rates; carbohydrates being the fastest, fats being the slowest and proteins sitting in the middle. With that said, you should aim to include sources like fish, poultry, nuts, seeds and avocado in your meals alongside a source of carbohydrates where possible.


Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water (and electrolytes) is essential for overall health, including blood sugar regulation. This is because when we experience dehydration the sugar in our blood can become more concentrated. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can also increase our rate of urination further contributing to dehydration. Aim to consume enough water throughout the day so that your urine runs pale and is odourless.


Balancing blood sugar levels through dietary interventions is a key component of improving your overall health and wellbeing. By making informed food choices and adopting healthy eating practices, you can help ensure stable energy levels, a positive mood and optimal health in the long run.

Written by Lachlan Trowell - Fitness and Diabetes Coach

Lachlan specialises in body and lifestyle transformations through evidence-based training and nutritional programs. @www.instagram.com/trainertrowell/

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