Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

Tired? Irritable? Food Cravings?

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Blood sugar audio

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy.

The two main hormones that regulate blood sugar and keep it within a narrow range are insulin and glucagon. Both are secreted by the pancreas and while insulin reduces blood sugar, when blood sugar levels drop, for example, you miss a meal, glucagon signals the body to increase blood sugar.

 Why keep my blood sugar stable?

Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.

When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycemia.”

When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia.  Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”

Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.

Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes. Prediabetes refers to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to Diabetes Canada almost 6 million Canadians have pre-diabetes and if left unmanaged can develop into type 2  diabetes

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our food and lifestyle choices have a big impact on keeping our blood sugar stable.

Food for stable blood sugar

The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars, processed foods and starches you eat.  To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.

Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level.  Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removes fiber). 

Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (definitely not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

Eating a diet rich in legumes helps stabilize blood sugar and provides protection from type 2 diabetes. If you are concerned about lectins in legumes, keep in mind that when beans are cooked lectins are deactivated. The last time I checked we don’t eat raw beans, but following proper soaking and cooking methods is important to deactivating the lectins.

Beans in cans are already cooked, rinse the beans in fresh cool water prior to eating.

For a guide on the glucose raising potential of foods, aka glycemic index/load go here.

FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below)

Lifestyle for stable blood sugar

Reduce visceral fat aka as belly fat. As we age extra fat tends to park itself around the mid section and there is growing evidence that abdominal fat is linked with increased health risk. That includes blood sugar disturbances and a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

You can read more about visceral fat and what to do about it in this updated post.

Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood.  Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you?

Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels.  So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Simple tips are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.

Conclusion

Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant).  Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.

There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing sugar and simple carbs, and eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).

Recipe (blood sugar balancing): Cinnamon Apples

Serves 4

2 apples, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will become slightly soft, and water will be absorbed.

Add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.

Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well.

Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness!


Serve and enjoy!


Tip: Keeping the peel on increases the fiber, which is even better for stabilizing your blood sugar.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-blood-sugar

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it

Medical Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your diet, taking supplements or making any changes to your health care regimen.

Need a mood boost?

mental health

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods. The Metabolic Balance Reset method develops a personalized meal plan that balances hormones and hormones influence mood swings.

Book a 30 minute complimentary discovery call here to learn more about the Metabolic Balance reset method.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings.

Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods.

Listen to the post here

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in too many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

FUN FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3  fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 50%!

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! This is on top of the research that shows nutrient deficiencies can look like mental health problems.

“But it makes me feel good!”

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.

A few other things to avoid are:

  • Alcohol (nervous system depressant)
  • Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)
  • Sugar (messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

Conclusion

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. If you need a mood boost, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

And remember, sometimes “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily. So, try my newest recipe for fruit salad, below.

Recipe (mood boosting): Fruit Salad

Serves 6-8

1-2 cups watermelon, cubed

1-2 cups cantaloupe, cubed

1-2 cups blueberries, fresh

1-2 cups blackberries, fresh

1-2 cups green grapes

Instructions

Place all fruit in a large bowl and gently toss.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Substitute or add any ready-to-eat fruit, like chopped peaches, or raspberries.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

Medical Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your diet, taking supplements or making any changes to your health care regimen.

Saving my sister’s life with food

The food abuse had been going on for years, leading to obesity, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  This  was managed with a myriad of medications. I think at one point she told me she was on nine different medications!  Some 20 years later, it all came to a head with a medical crisis (though there were many warning signs prior to this), one that to this day leave some serious physical, mental and emotional scars.

It sounds dramatic but I can assure you it’s no  exaggeration because I was there and I’m still there today helping my sister negotiate her way back to health through nutrition.

But let me back up a bit to the day I flew to Alberta with no idea if I would be heading straight to the hospital or my sister’s home.  Because for the past year or so, her life consisted of one medical crisis after the next that no medical professional could figure out.

She was plagued with chronic, acute diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, near fainting spells, severe pain in her shoulders, neck and head that seemed to be progressively getting worse.  The irony was that she was losing weight, something that had alluded her for years even though I was right there, with all the knowledge and expertise in nutrition and weight loss, for whatever reason, she didn’t want to know.  As time went on and her symptoms were not improving, the realization hit home; her disease could no longer be chemically managed through traditional medicine.

During our many telephone conversations I had suggested the possibility that the medications could be causing these issues.  However, she felt that the doctors, either her own or the many that had treated her in the ER would have caught that. Eventually, one of them did.  It turned out that she had developed a severe reaction to Metformin, the drug prescribed to control the type 2 diabetes.

It was shortly after I arrived, following another doctor visit, that she was given this information about the Metformin.  She was immediately taken off the drug and within 24 hours there was an improvement in her symptoms. She also decided, along with her family doctor that she wanted to come off  many of the other medications she was being prescribed.

Of course she was depleted and exhausted but now she could focus on recovery and building back her strength.  She became increasingly interested in nutrition and the type of foods that would support her recovery and those foods in particular that could also help manage her blood sugar. So I got to work, I finally had an opportunity to help her gain control of her health and trust me, I had her undivided attention this time!

It was not easy I was dealing with food restrictions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities.  But she was a willing participant, highly motivated and desperately wanting to feel better.  So I started to cook, using  real whole foods, plant foods, anti-inflammatory foods, supportive herbs and spices all prepared in a method for easy digestion and maximum nutrient uptake.  I filled the fridge and freezer and left a menu of easy to follow recipes.

There were also some supplement requirements due to vitamin and mineral depletion, in particular, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  I started slow and kept it simple.  I didn’t know how her body would react. There has been some trial and error and set backs, but the good news to date is that her blood sugar is stable, she has kept the weight off  and  now, she is in control of her health.

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.