Why maintaining healthy blood glucose should be a lifelong goal.
High blood glucose levels pose a threat to your health even if you don’t have diabetes. In fact, elevated blood glucose levels within the ‘normal’ range can damage the blood vessels and circulatory system, increasing the risk of a heart attack, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and even certain types of cancer. It does so by increasing the production of damaging free radicals and creating oxidative stress and inflammation.
Over time, the effects of high blood glucose levels become even more noticeable. In people with poorly managed diabetes, problems may occur with the skin, leading to bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching. Nerves may be damaged, causing numbness, prickling, tingling, burning and aching sensations. There may even be a loss of nerve function so that a process like digestion is impaired. The narrowing of large blood vessels will slow blood flow and cause heart disease, stroke and the loss of circulation, which can lead to amputation. Small blood vessels may become damaged, which can cause problems that may include blurry vision, blindness and kidney disease.
4 steps to better blood glucose.
Switch to low GI foods These are the smart carbs your body slowly digests and absorbs, the result being that they produce only gentle rises and falls in your blood glucose and insulin levels.
Keep your carb portions moderate For most of us 30 to 60g carbohydrate at any one sitting is a good average to aim for. What does that look like? 2 to 4 slices of bread, 2/3 to 1 1/3 cups cooked rice or 2 to 4 medium (150g/5oz) potatoes. That’s 2 to 4 carbohydrate exchanges.
Eat more regularly Mealtime consistency matters. Enjoy three square meals a day or three smaller meals with some healthy snacks.
Exercise regularly Exercising muscles need fuel and the fuel that they prefer is glucose. Moving your muscles burns glucose, fat and consequently calories and lowers blood glucose levels. That’s what we call a win/win.
Tips for reducing the GI of your meals
- Replace those high GI crunchy breakfast bubbles and flakes that spike your blood glucose and insulin levels with smart carbs like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine.
- Swap your bread. Choose a really grainy bread where you can actually see the grains, granary bread, stone-ground wholemeal bread, real sourdough bread, soy and linseed bread, pumpernickel, fruit loaf or bread made from chickpea or other legume based flours.
- Make your starchy staples the low (or lower) GI ones. Look for the lower GI rices like basmati, Doongara Clever Rice or Moolgiri medium grain rice, serve your pasta al dente, choose less processed foods and intact grains such as barley, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, whole kernel rye, or whole wheat kernels and opt for lower GI starchy vegetables like low(er) GI potatoes (Carisma or Nicola), parsnip, orange fleshed sweet potato, carrots and butternut pumpkin (winter squash).
- Learn to love legumes – home-cooked or canned and add chickpeas to stir fries, red kidney beans to chilli, a 4-bean salad to that barbecue menu, and beans or lentils to casseroles and soups.
- Combine high GI carbs with low GI tricklers to achieve a moderate overall GI. Lentils with rice, rice with beans and chilli, tabbouli tucked into pita bread, baked beans on toast or piled on a jacket-baked potato for classic comfort food.
- Tickle those taste buds and slow stomach emptying with a vinaigrette with salads, yoghurt with cereal, lemon juice on vegetables like asparagus and sourdough bread.
- Snack low GI with fresh fruit, a dried fruit and nut mix, low fat milk and yoghurt (or soy alternatives), fruit bread etc.