Sugar highs and lows

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

When people talk about the sugar rollercoaster – what do they mean?

We naturally have highs and lows in our blood sugar levels. Our cells need the glucose to function so the body takes the glucose from the bloodstream and into where it is most needed throughout our body.

To do this, insulin in released and ‘escorts’ the glucose into our cells.

So far so good.

The issue can be that if we are constantly consuming sugar (i.e. constant snacking between meals) or we digest too much sugar, then there is a burden – a ‘stress’ on the body – to keep up with the amount of incoming glucose.

  • Insulin has to keep being produced to move the glucose into the cells – and if the cells are becoming ‘full’ and can’t utilise the glucose they can start malfunctioning.

  • Extra glucose that isn’t being used up by our cells will be stored as fat – we need a little of this so that we have reserves when energy levels are low BUT we don’t want too much as it will store as fat and not be utilised leading to weight gain, insulin resistance and a stress burden on the body.

  • Vitamin C may struggle to get into the cells too – it uses the same transporter as glucose.

What does this mean for our hormones?

Once one hormone is under pressure then it impacts other hormones:

  • High sugar intake will put pressure on your adrenals (impacting cortisol efficiency); thyroid (affecting your metabolism) and oestrogen and progesterone (these affect not only fertility but how your cells respond to insulin).

What can you do about the impact sugar has on your body?

  • Have protein with each meal (including snacks) – oat cake with peanut butter for example

  • Have less snacks! You don’t need to eat constantly. As described it puts pressure on insulin to have to keep popping out to guide the sugar somewhere!

  • Sounds obvious but limit sugar intake. It is quite often hidden in processed foods, drinks, pre-made sauces and bread (and this is before we even get to the cakes and biscuits!).

  • Try eating a more substantial and nutrient dense meals with proteins, greens and lots of veg so the need for snacking is less.

  • Keep hydrated – sometimes our body just craves water. Add fruits for a bit of variety (and vitamin boost).

  • Make your own sauces. Tomato based sauce for pasta is so easy – add lots of different veggies, whizz in a blender and you’re good to go.

  • Keep some unsalted nuts, seeds, coconut flakes or small amount of dried fruit (although these are high in sugar so just a little amount) in a small tub that you can eat ‘on the go’.

  • Add cinnamon to yoghurt, cereal, granola, oats and even toast. It helps with sugar cravings.

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