One of the most essential ways of ensuring that you are ageing outrageously well is to manage your blood sugar effectively. Whilst I cover the best strategies for this in my program there are a few additional strategies you can use when you aren’t able to eat in an optimal way. Just to review the basics on balancing blood sugar you might want to quickly review my blog: Are you missing out on ways that you can start ageing outrageously well ? which does cover off on the basics.
Why the focus on balancing blood sugar ? Mainly because it’s one the most significant areas to resolve to ensure that you age in the best way possible. Poorly controlled blood sugar may result in the development of Type 2 diabetes, which increases your risks for many serious health problems including conditions such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
How do you know you are at risk for blood sugar issues? The type of symptoms we see include shakiness or headaches if you haven’t eaten for a few hours, increased thirst or frequent urination or energy swings and crashes. It can also be a concern when you are doing all the right things and still struggling to lose weight, particularly if your waist circumference is over 88cm for a male or 82cm for a female.
So what are five quick hacks for managing blood sugar? These are my top five suggestions;
- Vinegar is your friend when it comes to balancing blood sugar. The advice that is often shared to improve digestion is that you have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water before meals. This is a good strategy for increasing stomach acid so that you can digest more of your meal and reduce symptoms such as reflux and may explain some of the benefit that is seen with vinegar reducing blood sugar levels as well. In some recent research a reduction of up to 20% was seen in blood sugar levels after a meal provided that the meal was a higher glyceamic index meal (1). For most people this means if you are having a meal with some simple carbohydrates adding a salad with a vinegar and oil dressing may help reduce blood sugar levels.
- Start with your vegetables as it turns out that the fibre in your vegetables will slow down the release of glucose from your meal and reduce the blood sugar level peaks subsequently. Start with two mouthfuls of your broccolini or another green leafy vegetable to moderate blood sugar levels after a meal.
- Add cinnamon which not only tastes amazing but is also a useful culinary spice for regulating blood sugar levels. Fresh cinnamon added to porridge or oats can add an amazing flavour and is even better with some extra fibre in the form of grated apple. Cinnamon has a long history of being used in herbal medicine however a recent review of its use in PCOS (which involves significant insulin resistance) found that it assisted in improving blood sugar metabolism (2). Typically you need the equivilant of a teaspoon for therapeutic value.
- Cool it first as many high glycemic index starches such as potatoes and white rice can have their glycemic index reduced by precooking. Cooling before use will increase the level of resistant starch which will slow down the release of glucose. White rice has a glycemic index of 89 versus brown rice 53, so using brown rice will also reduce the release of blood sugar. However a small study showed a real benefit from cooking the rice and allowing it to cool for at least 24 hours before use, resulting in a very significant increase in resistant starch. This would also work for something like potatoes, so if you can’t manage without potatoes cooking them up to 24 hours in advance and cooling them down to use in a potato salad will result in a slower release of blood sugar.
- Good quality fats slow down the release of blood glucose. Simply adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil or a sprinkling of good quality nuts and seeds is a good way to avoid the spikes.
If you think its time to really start managing your blood sugar then it might be a good idea to check out my Ageing Outrageously program which is available in eight online modules with specific resources on balancing blood sugar including meal plans. Click on this link Ageing Outrageously to receive regular updates.
Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is available for consultations online and in clinic. Contact her clinic on 02 8084 0081 or book online at www.elementalhealth.net.au .
- Liatis S, Grammatikou S, Poulia KA, et al. Vinegar reduces postprandial hyperglycaemia in patients with type II diabetes when added to a high, but not to a low, glycaemic index meal. European journal of clinical nutrition 2010;64:727-32