Balancing Blood Sugar with Low Glycemic Foods
If we want to balance our blood sugar, simply counting carbohydrates will not assure us of this goal. Foods that cause a quick spike in blood sugar are also known for causing what is known as a sugar-crash. To prevent this, we need an understanding of how specific carbohydrates function in our body.
In diet protocols intended to reduce candida, support immune or mental health and lower inflammation, the intent is to keep the blood sugar levels moderate and steady through the selection of sugar free, low glycemic foods. Low glycemic foods do not raise the blood sugar quickly or substantially. To help us understand what this means and why this is important, let’s take a brief look at the blood sugar cycle.
The Blood Sugar Cycle
We want to avoid blood sugar surges because they cause a corresponding surge in insulin. Insulin is the body’s mechanism for lowering blood sugar and for storing it for later use. If we use up too much insulin through surges our body doesn’t store the glucose properly. This can leave us short on blood sugar late run the day (hypoglycaemia) but there are other concerns as well.
The whole cycle of repeated spikes in blood sugar, followed by spikes in insulin can cause any number of additional consequence including: high blood fats, candida overgrowth, immune suppression, high cholesterol, learning disabilities, food allergies, atherosclerosis, and cancer.
If we experience a blood sugar seesaw over an extended period, our insulin can become less effective. This is called insulin resistance and it causes the body to need more and more insulin to balance the blood sugar. Eventually the body can no longer produce enough insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar, leaving glucose levels dangerously high. This is Diabetes and it must be controlled. The good news is that we can prevent blood sugar imbalances by eating for a steady and moderate blood sugar level.
Simple vs Complex
For years, nutritionists separated carbohydrate types into just two categories, simple and complex. Those classed as complex carbohydrates were less processed, higher fibre foods. They were thought to be healthier. Though complex carbohydrates tend to have denser nutrition, the idea of simple and complex carbohydrates is rather outdated and is not an accurate reflection of the food’s impact on blood sugar.
Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load
The phrase glycemic index has created confusion for many. Many charts listing glycemic index (only), contain baffling lists and sometimes one list will contradict another, leaving diners more confused than ever. However, available related nutritional information has become increasingly accurate so it is now easier to make sense of what foods will actually help us sustain a healthy blood sugar balance. Newer nutritional guides include food lists rated by their glycemic LOAD, as opposed to just their glycemic INDEX, thus clarified the picture considerably.
To understood a food’s effect on blood sugar we need to know both its glycemic index (how quickly it will raise your blood sugar), and its glycemic load (how high it will make your blood sugar). To calculate this, the amount of carbohydrate is in an individual serving in calculated with the glycemic index (carb grams X glycemic index divided by 100). This give you the actual impact of the food on blood sugar. A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low and 20 or above is considered high. This Harvard webpage lists the glycemic index and glycemic load for 100 foods.
As mentioned in the last module about eating a low carb diet, recent research reviews by scientists like Dr David Perlmutter indicate that not only do too many carbohydrates negatively affect our health, carbohydrates may be the only food group/nutrient that is not essential to human health. Fats on the other hand, healthy fats, ARE essential.
Eating very low to no carbohydrates, moderate protein, and a high amount of healthy fats can be therapeutic for many health conditions. But not everyone wants to eliminate carbohydrates from our diet. So cultivating an awareness of the glycemic characteristics of the foods we choose, can help us eat carbohydrates more healthfully and can benefit our health by:
preventing or lessening cravings for sugar and starch
helping with candida treatment by minimizing available nutrients for yeast and fungus
increasing mental and physical stamina and stabilize mood
reducing insulin levels which lowers risk for cancer and heart disease
Note: Please keep in mind that just because a food is reasonably low glycemic, does not mean it is appropriate for a candida diet. Some foods with a low glycemic load can still contain sugars which can feed candida. Please heed the Whole Approach Candida Diet recommendations with additional consideration of the glycemic load of the foods.
If you have any questions about this blog, Tarilee Cornish will be available for Live Chat between 1 and 2 pm Pacific Standard Time tomorrow, Thursday September 21st.