How to Eat for Blood Sugar Health

April 22, 2019 | Wellness Resources

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 How to Eat for Blood Sugar Health
It’s essential to understand blood sugar health and how to eat in an optimal way to support healthy insulin function. This will help you more easily burn fat for fuel, keep weight off, and support overall health throughout your life.

Blood Sugar 101

When you eat any food, even fat, your insulin level will rise. Higher amounts of refined carbohydrates or simple sugars will raise your insulin faster and in higher amounts. The greater the fiber content of your diet, the slower insulin is raised and the more controlled the process. When you eat a large meal, regardless of the type of calories, it causes a large surge in insulin that is difficult to manage.

Insulin is a taxicab for calories. Its goal is to take blood sugar, as its passenger, to various locations in your body that want it. It helps if you are active, as some of the sugar is more likely to be wanted by cells in your body, including your many muscle cells.

Blood sugar is fuel, like gasoline is to a car. Your brain must have a regular supply or your head conks out. Thus, following a meal your insulin taxis are busy transporting sugar through your circulation and out to your cells, hoping to find cells that need some sugar.

In a healthy person, insulin drops off a whopping 60 percent of the sugar at your liver, which acts as a warehouse, converting the blood sugar to glycogen for storage.

Insulin is released by your pancreas in two phases. The first phase is from insulin that is already made and stored in your pancreas, which is just waiting for some food to come along. This is your first wave of taxis coming to pick up the first set of blood sugar passengers. The release of this insulin triggers your pancreas' beta cells to start making more insulin to deal with the rest of the meal.

As you are eating, some of the insulin transports blood sugar to your white adipose tissue or stored fat. The blood sugar is taken up by fat cells, activating their metabolism, in turn producing the hormone leptin. Leptin now enters your blood and begins traveling up to your brain. The more you eat, the more insulin you make, and the more leptin you make.

When leptin levels get high enough, meaning you have eaten enough, then leptin permeates into your brain and tells your subconscious brain you are full. At the same time, the higher levels of leptin also tell your pancreas that you are full, which turns off the beta cell production of insulin, as no more taxis are needed.

If you ate the right amount of food for your physical activity level, then blood sugar always has some place healthy to go; insulin rises and falls in a controlled manner, as does leptin.

When insulin has too many blood sugar passengers, and cells don't need any sugar, then insulin stimulates the production of triglycerides, which can become stored fat. This is how you gain weight. Unfortunately, as triglycerides elevate in your blood, they interfere with leptin getting into your brain. This keeps you eating more than you need to because you don't yet have a full signal, a problem called leptin resistance. This encourages even further insulin driven triglyceride formation, making it morelikely you will gain weight.

If you stop eating too much and start exercising more, then this simple case issue can improve and will often bounce back to normal function, thus the basic idea of eating less and exercising more to lose weight.

If you continually eat too much and gain weight, then cells get tired of seeing insulin taxis driving up. In fact, they shutter their windows and lock their doors. The reason for this rejection of insulin is rather simple. If the cells take in blood sugar when they can't use it, because they already have enough, then the extra sugar will caramelize and kill the cell. Rejecting insulin is a self-defense measure. This is the mechanism behind basic insulin resistance at the cellular level.

If this problem goes on, blood sugar levels continue to rise, insulin resistance gets worse, leptin resistance gets worse, cholesterol levels go up, blood pressure goes up, triglyceride levels go up, and inflammation really starts heating up. Eventually, this leads to type 2 diabetes, along with many risk factors for heart disease, and then heart and kidney disease lock into place.

Basic Diet Recommendations for Insulin Function

The absolute worst possible dietary pattern of eating for blood sugar health is the standard advice given by dieticians and doctors across the country for almost all type 2 diabetic patients. They routinely tell individuals to snack in order to maintain their blood sugar levels and to “stoke” their metabolism with fuel.

In normal health, when you haven’t eaten for three hours, insulin levels return to a baseline. Now your pancreas makes a different hormone, called glucagon. This hormone tells your liver to release the sugar (glycogen) it has stored to sustain your blood sugar levels, and as it does this it turns on your liver’s fat burning system. Thus, under the influence of glucagon your liver simultaneously uses sugar and fat to sustain your blood sugar – a true fat burning time that helps clear up stagnating levels of triglycerides in your blood.

If you snack on anything surpassing 30 calories you will raise insulin, which automatically turns off glucagon, causes fat burning to stop, and blunts the use of sugar that has been stored in your liver. However, since you haven’t used the stored sugar in your liver, then insulin can’t put more sugar back in your liver as it normally would, meaning it will readily turn blood sugar into fat (even if you snacked on something with no fat).

You are supposed to get a snack between meals, but it is supposed to come from your liver, not from eating.

The worst things for leptin and insulin are eating between meals, eating large meals, eating low fiber, eating highly refined sugar or refined carbohydrates, not eating enough quality protein, and not exercising.

If you eat anything after dinner you make matters even worse, because now you reduce the optimal access into your stored fat during sleep, a prime opportunity to burn fat.

When this system is abused and weight is gained, then fat begins to accumulate in excess in your liver. The fat clogs your liver’s metabolism and reduces the ability of sugar to store in your liver following a meal. This is liver insulin resistance caused by fatty buildup. This means that you are much more likely to become hypoglycemic or have low blood sugar between meals, because you don’t have enough sugar in your warehouse to use for blood sugar between meals.

This same fatty liver problem also gets in the way of how glucagon would burn fat between meals, causing glucagon to synthesize sugar in an inappropriate and out-of-control manner, making blood sugar go high even though you haven’t eaten. This is why diabetics wake up with very high fasting blood sugar levels. These are complicated metabolic problems that are more difficult to fix than simple case insulin resistance.

Furthermore, your pancreas starts to tune out leptin, meaning that leptin resistance occurs at the level of beta cells and the beta cells aren’t getting the leptin message to stop making insulin in a timely manner. This causes extra insulin to be made, which excessively lowers blood sugar by turning sugar to fat, while simultaneously inducing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar symptoms. This makes a person want to eat again two to three hours after the previous meal, in turn making the whole problem worse.

It’s about this time, with metabolism clogged and broken, that a young overweight person goes to the doctor and finds out he or she has type 2 diabetes.

If the problem continues, then inflammation begins to damage the insulin secreting beta cells. Not only are these beta cells now leptin resistant, causing them to overproduce insulin and get tired out, but they are also getting damaged, and their numbers are declining – meaning now they can’t make insulin either. This sends a person down a path of a mixture of type 1 and type 2 diabetes – with an autoimmune component sometimes thrown in; a problem that is seen progressively more often in today’s older type 2 diabetics.

How to Eat for Healthy Blood Sugar

1. Eat a high protein breakfast. Start your day off with high protein and low carbohydrates. Forget the muffin and orange juice for breakfast. That will cause you blood sugar to shoot up and you’ll be hungry mid-morning. Instead, start your morning with 20-30 grams of protein and some healthy fats. This will improve your metabolism, help stabilize your blood sugar, and keep you full for 5 hours until lunchtime.

2. Eat 3 meals per day with no snacking and no eating after dinner. This allows your body to use insulin and burn fat between meals. Leave 5-6 hours between meals and finish eating dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.

3. Don’t overeat at meals. Always try to finish a meal when you are slightly less than full. It can take 15 minutes for the full signal to catch up to you. Eat slowly. Overeating at meals is the easiest way to clog your metabolism.

4. Reduce carbohydrates eaten. Your body needs some carbohydrates. However, most people eat too many carbohydrates. An easy guide to follow is to look at the physical size of the carbohydrates you’re eating at a meal in comparison to protein and use the 50-50 technique. For example, you can eat a palm-size portion of protein (such as chicken, fish, eggs) and should eat no more than a palm-size portion of carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, fruit, corn, bread). You can fill up on fiber-rich vegetables.

5. Eat fiber at every meal, preferably at the beginning of the meal. Just think about starting a meal with a salad rather than bread. Soluble fiber is vital for slowing the rate at which calories enter your blood, thus enabling your insulin system to function with less stress. It also helps you maintain healthy levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. For weight loss, you want to get 30-50 grams of fiber each day.

6. Retrain your sweet tooth. The less sugar you eat, the less you crave it. Once you start eating less sugar, your taste buds change so you don’t need things to be so sweet. Cut out added sugars throughout your day. Cut out juices, soda, and refined sugars. If you crave dessert, try eating some fruit at the end of the meal. That should be enough sweetness to satisfy your taste buds.

7. Exercise. Getting physical exercise is essential to utilize the calories you are eating. Make a point to get regular refreshing exercise and use your muscles for health!

These guidelines are part of the Leptin Diet recommendations and are an optimal way of eating for blood sugar health, fat-burning, and thyroid function. It is a sustainable way of eating for ongoing health. It is not a starvation or deprivation diet. Make these simple changes today and improve your insulin function and overall health!

To learn more about blood sugar and leptin, check out the books The Leptin Diet and Mastering Leptin.

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