Blood glucose: How your blood sugar can affect your health

[media-credit name=”” align=”aligncenter”]Blood glucose: How your blood sugar can affect your health[/media-credit]

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2010

Unless you have diabetes, you’ve probably never given your blood glucose’the amount of sugar in your blood’a second thought. But researchers now know that a diet loaded with foods that send blood glucose on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows can increase your risk of heart disease by damaging blood vessels and raising cholesterol. It can even chip away at your memory and increase the risk of certain cancers. While you may not notice a problem, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one; you may actually be on a path that shaves years off your life.

Fortunately, none of this damage happens overnight, and even modest changes to the foods you eat every day can start you on a healthier routine and make you feel more alert and energized immediately.

What blood glucose does

When you need a quick pick-me-up, do you reach for a gooey Danish, a sugary donut or a couple of cookies? These ‘fast-acting’ foods are handy and they take no time at all to dissolve in your stomach. They race into your bloodstream, flooding your body with blood glucose and temporarily boosting energy. The trouble is that the surge doesn’t last long, and when the crash comes, you may feel listless, headachy’and ravenously, must-eat-something-sugary-this-minute hungry.

Why controlling blood glucose matters

Unfortunately, our diets are full of foods that send us for a ride on the glucose roller coaster. So it’s no wonder many of us have less energy than we’d like. And, yes, eating too much and exercising too little get the lion’s share of the blame for weight gain, but yo-yoing blood glucose contributes by setting in motion a chain of events that eventually sends you shopping for bigger jeans.

 

But it’s not just low energy and weight gain that we have to worry about. For most of us, even when our blood glucose skyrockets after a large meal, our body can bring it back to normal in a few hours with no problem. Only people with untreated diabetes have blood glucose levels that stay quite high most of the time. For a long time, doctors thought that only diabetics needed to be concerned about the effect of food on their blood glucose levels. Now we know that even in healthy people, high levels after meals can, over time, damage the body, even if diabetes never develops.

Click through for seven tips to help keep your blood glucose in check.

Related
What to eat for healthy blood sugar
Does eating sugar cause diabetes?
The 4 worst foods you can eat