Food Combos that Protect vs. Blood Sugar Spikes

High blood sugarFood Combos that Protect vs. Blood Sugar Spikes

I believe most people, when they think about food, mentally divide items into two basic groups: “healthy” and “unhealthy”. The problem with this approach is that it is far too simple and often gets us into trouble when it comes to eating in a manner that protects our bodies from blood sugar surges. Over time, unmediated sugar spikes can head us in the direction of insulin resistance and eventually, diabetes.

Our bodies have been created with a blood sugar regulatory system managed by a small organ, the pancreas, which sits right behind your stomach. A healthy pancreas is able to lower blood sugar by producing and releasing a hormone called insulin into your bloodstream. Conversely, it can raise your blood sugar (if you haven’t eaten in a while or are undergoing heavy exertion) by way of the hormone glucagon.

The name of the game when it comes to maintaining a healthy pancreas and blood sugar metabolism is to feed your body the right way. It’s here that our “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” view of foods can get us into trouble. Surprisingly, some healthy foods can send our blood sugar levels soaring if we fail to properly pair and partner them with other foods.

That said, we need to get back to the basics of thinking about food along the lines of the three food groups: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Understand that all digested food ends up as glucose (sugar) molecules by which we fuel our bodies. Carbohydrates (even healthy whole grains) produce the sharpest spikes in our blood sugar. Proteins are slower to digest, and fats even slower, which—to our benefit—results in a delayed sugar release and yields a “softer” rise in overall blood sugar.

Here’s how to take this knowledge and make it practical:

  • Don’t eat fruit that’s low in fiber (bananas, berries) by itself. Always pair it with either a healthy fat or some protein (a small portion of nuts, nut butter, cheese, or cream). Apples, pears, oranges, etc., which have a higher fiber content are “blood sugar safe” as the fiber slows the breakdown into glucose.
  • Don’t eat a carbohydrate (even a whole grain one) without partnering it with a healthy fat or protein. Use a thin smear of butter, spray of olive oil, slice of cheese or turkey/chicken to guard against blood sugar spikes.
  • Lean proteins (including whole eggs) and healthy fats (avocados, nuts) can always be eaten solo, as they have little effect on your blood sugar.

Remember, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are the byproduct of relentless blood sugar spikes resulting from poor food choices and/or because of “over-nutrition” (eating too much of a good thing).

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