Ever felt a jittery high post a sugary drink, a sleepy arvo after a lunch time sandwich, or mood swings when you’re hanging out for your next meal? These are common symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar imbalance is something I have personally struggled with over the years. I was in a mindset that I needed to load myself up with cereal, fruit and toast for brekkie, another large meal including bread for lunch, plus plenty of grain based snacks in between. Although I ate lots, I was always hungry.
As well as satisfying my hunger, these food choices were driven by fear of low blood sugar (hypoglycemic) shakes, dizziness and hanger (angry and hungry) before my next meal. This was something I frequently experienced in my teens and little did I know I was making all the wrong food choices!
HOW THE BODY USES CARBOHYDRATES
Keeping it very simple, when all foods containing carbohydrates (mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, sweets and any products made from) are eaten, they are broken down by digestive enzymes and good bacteria, into primary building blocks- glucose, fructose and ribose. Differing amounts will be in each food and food item.
Any glucose from these foods, moves directly from the Small Intestine and into the bloodstream. The rate at which glucose causes a spike in blood sugar (glucose) levels, depends on the foods ‘Glycaemic Index (GI)’. The increase in glucose stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, the hormone responsible for transporting glucose into the cells of the tissues and organs, where it is used as energy (or stored as fat in times of inactivity).
Low GI foods have therefore been dubbed a healthy food option.
Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is metabolised differently. When fructose is consumed, it must be transported from the small intestine and into the liver, to be metabolised. Where the body can use glucose as fuel, it stores fructose in the liver. When fructose reaches the liver, it is converted into triglycerides (fat) and transported around the body for storage.
Fructose rich foods are mistaken as a healthier option, because the fructose doesn’t raise the blood sugar levels as rapidly as glucose and therefore they have a lower Glycaemic Index. Instead it does much worse!
THE DANGERS OF SUCROSE
Table sugar (and all the products made from the sweetener) is the sugar we all know and at some point, fell in love with. Nutritionally, this is referred to as sucrose. Sucrose is made up of one glucose molecule bonded to one fructose molecule. Therefore, it is naturally 50% glucose, 50% fructose.
When sucrose is consumed, expect these negative side effects:
- High blood glucose levels, that lead to high insulin, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, triglycerides and non alcoholic fatty liver.
- Following the high is a state of low blood glucose levels or hypoglycaemia, due to the over-stimulation of insulin. This leaves the body and brain starved of glucose and can lead to headaches, dizziness, mood swings, shakes, behavioural issues, poor concentration, fatigue and excessive sweating.
- Glucose surges stimulate the happy neurotransmitter, Serotonin. Altering the brain chemistry leads to addictions and cravings for more sugar.
- Consumption creates a higher demand for vitamins, enzymes, and minerals, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
- Forms detrimental Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s). This leads to premature ageing and metabolic debris building up in your joints, organs and skin tissue. Yep, this includes the dreaded wrinkles!
- Leads to oxidative damage (rust) in the body, causing a higher demand for antioxidants and an acceleration of the ageing process.
- Will damage levels of beneficial bacteria, throughout the gastrointestinal tract, leading to many digestive upsets and a detrimental effect on the strength and function of the body’s immune system. An overgrowth of the yeast Candida Albicans is associated with sugar consumption.
THE DANGERS OF FRUCTOSE
Fructose is partly (50%) responsible for the health conditions linked with table sugar (sucrose). Listed below are the jaw dropping side effects associated with eating foods high in fructose.
- Stored in the liver as fat and overtime contributes to non-alcoholic liver disease and a reduction in the livers detox capability and hormone metabolism.
- Blocks the metabolism of glucose in the liver, and the conversion of glucose into its stored form, called glycogen. Creating a greater demand for insulin production (from the pancreas), and overtime the muscles of the body become more and more insulin resistant.
- Causes high insulin, insulin resistance, increased inflammation production and visceral fat accumulation (abdominal fat).
- Drains the energy source, ATP from the cells, contributing to the dangerous inflammatory response in the body.
- Causes premature ageing, through the production of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s).
- High inflammation levels and production of the dangerous oxidised LDL cholesterol, the formation of Atherosclerosis and health conditions including Alzheimer’s Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and liver damage.
- Plays a role in increasing blood pressure (fructose induced hypertension), blood cholesterol, uric acid (contributing to Cardiovascular Disease and Gout), nitrogen build up and lactate production.
- Can proliferate the growth of cancer cells (through Insulin-like-growth-factor).
- It will increase your appetite, through the stimulation of a hormone called grehlin.
SUMMARISING THE HEALTH CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH FRUCTOSE CONSUMPTION INCLUDE:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Weight gain and obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol, triglycerides
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver
- Liver damage
- Premature ageing
- Insulin resistance
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH
Keeping blood sugar levels stable over the day, along with limiting your fructose consumption, is crucial for overall health.
Eliminate high fructose containing foods including anything sweetened with agave (watch labels on chocolates and other raw treats) and high fructose corn syrup (used to make soft drinks, baked items and sauces), completely from your diet.
To stabalise the release of glucose from your foods over the day, source your carbohydrates from wholefoods (vegetables and fruit) and include fibre, proteins and loads good fats with all meals. Yep, this includes the saturated kind found in coconut products, animal fat, ghee, bone broth + omega 3, 6 and 9 fats in wild-caught fish, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds).
For more detailed information into fructose containing foods, my verdict on sweeteners, nutritional and herbal protocols, among much more nutritional advice to help balance your blood sugars for optimal health, read my latest book ‘Balanced, The Natural Way To Healthy Hormones‘.
Image sourced: https://pixabay.com