Deep Dive: Blood Sugar

Plus: Recipes for stable blood sugar!

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"Every morning we are born again. What we do today matters most." – Buddha.

Friday. In the latest twist of sci-fi becoming a reality, humans are now receiving pig organ transplants. That’s right — a pig kidney is still functioning inside a human body a month after surgeons at NYU Langone transplanted it into a brain-dead patient (with the family’s consent). As of March, over 100,000 Americans are anxiously waiting for organ transplants. Could pig organs be a potential solution? Time will tell, but we’ll keep you posted. But for now, let’s shift gears and delve into the significance of blood sugar, even for those who aren't diabetic. Let’s dive in.

Does Blood Sugar Matter?

Blood sugar is a big deal for diabetics, but it does also play a critical role in everyone's health.

Blood sugar, scientifically known as glucose, is essentially the fuel for the cells in our bodies. When we eat foods containing carbohydrates, our body breaks down those carbs, turning them into glucose. This causes a rise in our blood sugar levels. While most foods will cause this rise, it's the magnitude and frequency of these spikes that concern health experts. Over time, consistently high levels can lead to several health problems that include more than just diabetes.

Understanding the importance of blood sugar and its dynamics is essential for everyone. When levels aren't stable, you might notice immediate effects like reduced energy, difficulty focusing, or even mood swings (aka getting hangry).

In the longer term, unstable blood sugar can lead to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, mental health issues, and risk factors for diseases like Alzheimer's and heart conditions.

Here's a concerning statistic: over a third of adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes. Even more startling, 80% of them are unaware of their condition. And the kicker? High blood sugar levels are linked to many of the leading causes of death globally.

Now, you might ask, what makes blood sugar spike? Apart from food, various lifestyle factors like stress, sleep quality, and physical activity play a role. For instance, after a night of poor sleep, you might find that your blood sugar spikes more than usual the next day. However, even a simple activity like walking after a meal can help manage those rises in blood sugar.

But here is where things get interesting (and not in a good way). Continuous spikes can lead to a condition called insulin resistance. Our bodies produce insulin, a hormone, to process and manage glucose. When there’s a spike, our body releases more insulin. Over time, with repeated spikes, our body's cells become less responsive to this insulin, thus creating resistance. As a result, our body needs to produce even more insulin to manage glucose, leading to even higher blood sugar levels.

So why is insulin resistance such a big deal, Well, it is, unfortunately, the precursor for numerous health complications.

You might be wondering why diabetes is the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about blood sugar. That's because diabetes, specifically Type 2, results from chronic insulin resistance. While Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body can't produce insulin, Type 2 can be largely prevented and even reversed with lifestyle choices aimed at stabilizing blood sugar levels.

It's essential, though, to remember that blood sugar levels exist on a spectrum. Just because you're within the “normal” range doesn't mean you're in optimal health. In fact, even the higher end of the normal range can be risky. Ideally, fasting blood sugar should be under 85 mg/dL, and after meals, it shouldn't exceed 140 mg/dL.

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels largely falls on our daily choices related to diet, activity, sleep, and stress management. Eating whole foods that don't cause sudden spikes, and being mindful of how and when we eat, can make the world of a difference. Exercise, regardless of its intensity, can help process glucose effectively. Additionally, ensuring quality sleep and managing stress positively affect our glucose metabolism.

The key takeaway? While blood sugar might seem like a concern for the elderly or those with diabetes, it's a critical health factor for everyone. The good news is that it's largely within our control. Through mindful choices and practices, we can ensure our blood sugar remains stable, paving the way for a healthier, happier life and a lot less mood swings since no one likes you when you get hangry.

Tonic Shots

1. Filling And Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar!

The key is in the white beans! Give this salad a try for something that will actually be filling, have some protein, and won’t spike your blood sugar!

2. A Simple Side, Without The Sugar Spike And Crash!

Super simple and delicious — roast honey nut squash is the perfect side that won’t make your blood sugar spike!

3. Chicken, But Better

This chicken recipe tastes great, and because it is mainly a protein, it won’t spike your blood sugar. Make enough to have leftovers! Enjoy!

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