How to maintain glucose levels

May 8, 2013

Maintain glucoseWhen the glucose level falls too low the hormone adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands and glucagon is produced from the pancreas. Glucagon works in the opposite way to insulin and increases blood glucose by encouraging the liver to turn some of its glycogen stores into glucose to give us quick energy. If the blood glucose level stays low for a period of time hypoglycemia - low blood sugar level - can occur. Symptoms include: irritability, aggressive outbursts, palpitations, lack of sex drive, crying spells, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, muscle cramps, excess sweating and excessive thirst.

When the glucose level rises too high, insulin is produced by the pancreas to lower it. If the blood sugar level remains too high, this causes the symptoms of hyperglycemia - high blood sugar level. The extreme form of this is diabetes which is a medical condition needing expert attention and often entailing regular insulin injections. Weight cycling - weight gain, loss, then gain - may make you more prone to diabetes. Obese people have a 77 times higher chance of developing diabetes than a person at their correct weight - the greater your weight, the higher your risk of developing diabetes. During a normal day, the amount by which our blood sugar level rises and falls depends on what and when we eat.

When we eat any food in refined form its digestion is very fast. Refined foods have been stripped of their natural goodness by various manufacturing processes. Two of the most widely-used refined foods are sugar and white flour. When digestion is too fast glucose enters the bloodstream too rapidly. This also happens when you take in any food or drink that has a stimulant effect, like tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate. This sharp, fast rise in blood glucose makes you feel momentarily good, but the 'high' quickly passes, plummeting you to a low point, making you feel tired and drained. So what do you need? Another stimulant like a bar of chocolate or cup of coffee (or both!) to give you another boost.

If there is a long gap between eating, the blood glucose will drop to quite a low level and you will feel the need for a quick boost, for instance a cup of tea and a biscuit. At the same time, the adrenal glands will make the liver produce more glucose. The combination of these two acts causes high levels of glucose in the blood which again calls on the pancreas to over-produce insulin in order to reduce the glucose levels. The vicious cycle starts all over again and the adrenal glands and pancreas become ever more exhausted. To solve this problem try:

  • Grazing - develop a 'grazing' habit in your eating patterns, eating little but often. Leave behind the dieting philosophy of no food between meals.
     
  • Avoid skipped meals - maybe you thought that if you ate less by missing meals you would lose weight but the resultant swings in blood sugar are setting you up to fail. They create a biological urge that must be satisfied and you shouldn't ignore your body's demands even if you were strong enough.

Make it easy for yourself. If you stop what is causing the biological urge then you won't be constantly at war with your own body.