Health Effects of Spiking Sugar Levels in Blood

“It is easy to fall, but hard to rise.”

Dann Moudry

This quote may ring true to your life path but for many of us with metabolic dysfunction, the opposite is true. Balancing your glucose levels can minimize cravings, fatigue, hormonal issues, and more, while reducing inflammation and the aging process.

In this blog, we will cover the importance of keeping glucose levels steady.

What is glucose?

Glucose is a type of sugar that serves as the main source of energy for our bodies. It comes from the food we eat and is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to our cells.

Having the right amount of glucose is crucial for our health because it fuels our brain, muscles, and other vital organs. Like fuel for a car, our bodies need glucose to function properly.

The trick is have to just the right amount – too much or too little glucose can trigger health issues.

Factors underlying glucose spikes

There are several factors that can precipitate the spiking of glucose to either low or high extremities in our blood.

A standard metric that quantifies the level of glucose in your blood is the fasting glucose level (FGL). FGL refers to the amount of glucose in your blood after not eating or drinking anything (except water) for at least 8 hours. It is typically measured in the morning before having breakfast.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a FGL below 100 mg/dL is deemed normal. However, FGL levels above 100 mg/dL raise health concerns, with a range of 100-125 mg/dL indicating pre-diabetes and a level of 126 mg/dL or higher indicating diabetes.

When we eat food, carbohydrates are broken down to simpler sugars including glucose which is then released in the blood. To understand the effects of different types of carbohydrate-rich foods on blood glucose, the Glycemic Index has been developed.

The Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on the rate and magnitude by which they raise blood glucose levels after meal consumption. The index is typically multiplied by the amount of carbohydrate in the food item to give a glycemic load.

According to Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health, dietary sources with a score of 20 or more are considered to have a high glycemic load, those with a score of 11 to 19 have a medium load, and finally those with a score of 10 or under have a low load.

Food with a high glycemic load gets digested quickly and raises blood sugar quickly. These include fiber-poor baked goods, sweets, French fries, sweetened beverages, candy bars, refined bread, crackers, cereals, rice, etc.

Health effects of glucose spiking

According to Glucose Goddess, the effects of blood glucose spikes on our health can be diverse.

One of the primary effects is mitochondrial distress and free radical production. Let us break this down further… When glucose levels spike, tiny structures in our cells called mitochondria get overwhelmed. Mitochondria are like our energy powerhouses – they harness adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a fancy term for a biologically usable form of energy, from the food we consume. As they get overwhelmed, they release a bunch of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are byproducts of chemical reactions that involve the use of oxygen that take place in our body. As these radicals accumulate, they harm our cells, compromise the structure of our DNA, and eventually lead to inflammation. Inflammation is the perpetrator of most diseases in our body. In fact, it is estimated that three out of five people die of an inflammation-based disease in their lifetime.

Spikes in blood glucose can also facilitate aging. This is because the fluctuations trigger glycation, a phenomenon where sugars attach to proteins in our bodies. Glycation plays a significant role in the development of cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another consequence is weight gain. When blood glucose rises, insulin is released in the blood. Insulin is a protein that promotes the uptake and storage of excess glucose in body cells. These include fat or adipose cells. When levels of the sugar suddenly rise, insulin facilitates their storage in adipose cells which grow and add fat to the body.

Benefits of steady blood glucose on the skin

Maintaining blood glucose can facilitate wrinkle management. According to this study, when we consume sugar like glucose, it can affect the proteins called collagen and elastin in our skin. These proteins help keep our skin firm and elastic. The sugars can link with the building blocks of collagen, forming what are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This process speeds up when our sugar levels are high. Collagen is like the scaffolding that holds our skin together, giving it structure and firmness. So, when sugar interacts with collagen, it can lead to changes that contribute to skin aging. A visual comparison: look at the browning of meat when charred on the grill resulting from the glycation of proteins – that’s what’s happening to our skin and in our bodies.

Apart from skin aging, balancing glucose also reduces cravings, constant hunger, and fatigue to improving brain function, hormonal balance, fertility, skin health, and sleep quality.

Managing your blood glucose

To avoid spiking blood glucose, we must be mindful of what we eat.  Here are some hacks for managing your blood sugar.

Some glucose mediating foods to include:

  • Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea contains Matricaria chamomilla, which is one of the most popular medicinal plants in the world. Several studies have shown promising effects of the herbal product in lowering and steadying blood glucose levels. Indeed, Khan et al (2014) found that the product had a strong effect in lowering blood sugar levels and protecting the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from damage in diabetic rats.
  • Nutritional Yeast: Yeast is actually a type of fungus. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast often used as a food ingredient or condiment for its nutty, cheesy flavor. It is a good source of essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals. It can help maintain steady blood glucose levels due to its low glycemic index, meaning it has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Additionally, the high fiber content in the product can slow down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar after meals. This can contribute to better blood sugar control and help in maintaining stable energy levels throughout the day. Stick with non-Fortified, non-GMO. Here’s one that I like:
  • Cinnamon: An excellent spice that is well known for its role in regulating blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that cinnamon functions as a natural insulin stimulant. It promotes the activity of insulin to facilitate the uptake of glucose from the blood into peripheral cells to keep levels of blood sugar steadier. NOTE: Stick with Ceylon cinnamon as Cassia cinnamon can be toxic in large doses. Here’s one to try:

Overall, the benefits of balanced glucose levels are far-reaching, from managing wrinkles and skin aging to reducing cravings, fatigue, and improving overall well-being. And incorporating foods like chamomile tea, nutritional yeast, and cinnamon into our diet can keep the glucose levels steady.

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