How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

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

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 lead to inflammation.  And inflammation is a contributing factor in the development of cancer.

So let’s look at how you can optimize your food and lifestyle to keep your 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 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 removed fiber).  Eating nuts, seeds and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

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

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 excessive 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

 

Not Sleeping Well? Maybe You Need To Eat More!

Consider this: We sleep for about 1/3 of our life.  That, my friends, is a significant amount of time!

So, what happens when we sleep?

Have you ever thought about it?

Well I’m here to tell you that there is a world of action going on as we lay supine bridging one day to the next.

Brain Action

While we sleep our brain is working hard to process what we’ve learned during the day. Research also shows that sleep may promote the removal of waste products from brain cells.  Effectively this means that while we sleep our brains are detoxifying.brain

Detoxifying and Repairing

While we sleep our body is also hard at work detoxifying other areas of our body, as well as repairing it.

Our liver is at its peak detox stage between 1 and 3 am and our lungs around 4am.

And during sleep our body repairs cells, tissues and muscles. It synthesizes proteins and releases hormones.

Immune System

While we sleep our immune system is hard at work defending us.  It releases cytokines (proteins that fight inflammation and infection) as well as antibodies and immune cells that work to fight off harmful germs and infection.

So, as I am sure you can surmise, sleep is not a passive passage of time.  It’s an essential piece of our health puzzle.

Sleep Disruptors

There are many things to take a look at when you are trying to figure out why you may not be getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Poor sleep habits like not going to bed at a consistent time each night
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • External light
  • Room Temperaturesleep

And I am going to offer up one more.  A reason not often considered.

Are you consuming enough good quality food each and every day?  If not, this could be a contributing factor to poor sleep.

You need to provide your body with enough of the essential nutrients that it requires to have the energy it needs to perform all of those tasks that I mentioned above.  It’s vital for a restful sleep.

Our activity level, metabolism, body weight and how much we sleep each night are key factors in determining how many calories we burn while we sleep.

You can turn to calculators like https://captaincalculator.com/health/calorie/calories-burned-sleeping-calculator/ to help you determine more precisely how many calories you burn while sleeping but to put things into a bit of perspective here, a person weighing 150lbs may burn 400 calories during 8 hours of sleep while someone who is 185lbs may in the area of 500 calories.

It’s significant isn’t it?

I’m seeing this issue pop up more and more, especially in people who are experimenting with some form of fasting.  Fasting can be a great tool if done properly.  But it is not for everyone and definitely should be discussed with a practitioner who has experience in this area.

So here is a parting tip for you if you are trying to improve your sleep.

Keep a daily food journal.  Record what and how much you eat every day.

What you learn from it may surprise you!

References

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-sleep-clears-brain

https://www.healthline.com/health/why-do-we-sleep#restoration

https://www.healthline.com/health/calories-burned-sleeping

 

This Week On The Health Hub…Memories, Memoirs And The Arc Of Life with Dr. Lloyd Sederer

Lloyd Sederer is a psychiatrist and a public health doctor who has held among the most prestigious jobs in his field: Medical Director of a Harvard teaching hospital, Mental Health Commissioner of NYC, Chief Medical Officer for mental health for NYS, and medical editor for Mental Health for the Huff Post. Sederer’s last book (Scribner 2018) was The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs. His is an improbable life, which his new book (#13!) reveals in stories from his youth, each with an essay about their relevance to our lives today. Ink-Stained For Life, is its title.

Learning Points:

  • How our experiences lay the foundation for our life
  • How the improbable can become probable
  • How our past has relevance for our present

Social Media:

 Website:  www.askdrloyd.com

 


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Are You A Dipper?

If you were to regularly take your blood pressure when you wake up each day and just before you go to bed at night you should notice a pattern of variance between the 2 readings.

This is because our blood pressure has a circadian rhythm.

Blood pressure is normally lower at night and then starts to rise a few hours before you wake up. It continues to rise during the day, usually peaking in the middle of the afternoon. Then in the late afternoon and evening, your blood pressure begins dropping again.

This is a healthy dipping pattern and denotes a healthy blood pressure circadian rhythm.

So, what happens if this is not the case?  What if you don’t dip?

There are many studies suggesting that people who do not show an appropriate nocturnal dip in blood pressure, called non-dippers, are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications and disease. 

We can greatly impact our blood pressure, both negatively and positively, by our sleeping pattern.

Research has found that those who sleep less than 4 hours a night are at a higher risk of hypertension, which is high blood pressure, than those who sleep 7 hours each night.

And here’s a kicker. Even one bad night’s sleep can have an impact by causing a spike in blood pressure that night!

Home Monitoring Of Your Blood Pressure 

Taking your blood pressure reading regularly is a simple habit to develop.  It will give you a day to day snapshot of your reading and over time give you a pattern of your blood pressure. This will help you to identify irregularities or changes.

And this is important both for cancer prevention and for those going through treatment.

Hypertension is associated with a higher risk for not only developing cancer but dying from it as well.

In one large study that included 289,454 men and 288,345 women, the results showed that higher than normal blood pressure was statistically significantly associated with a 10-20% higher risk of developing cancer in men, and a higher risk of dying from the disease in both men and women.

And for those in active care, there is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and the development or worsening of hypertension. 

There is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treatment of cancer patients and development or worsening of hypertension…Morbidity and mortality increased in patients with cancer and hypertension without proper antihypertensive treatment. We concluded that there is need for early diagnosis, effective monitoring and treatment strategies for hypertension in cancer patients in order to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality

As well, other medications used to treat cancer can cause a rapid onset of elevated blood pressure. 

So, in both cancer prevention and in active care, monitoring your blood pressure is a simple yet powerful tool to include in your own health protocol.

If you have early warning signs of a change in your blood pressure, whether in active cancer care or in prevention, you can bring this to the attention of your physician and get ahead of potential issues.


References

Sleep and Hypertension

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913764/

High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of developing or dying from cancer

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926182618.htm

Association between blood pressure and risk of cancer development: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45014-4#:~:text=Over%20the%20past%20few%20decades,to%20men%20(63%25%20vs.

Hypertension in Patients with Cancer

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386854/

Hypertension and cancer treatment

https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cardio-oncology/high-blood-pressure/#:~:text=Hypertension%20and%20cancer%20treatment,pressure%20are%20anti%2DVEGF%20medications.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system can help you to fight off cancer, deal with the side effects of treatment and lower the risk of recurrence. 

But to do so effectively requires a comprehensive strategy that will provide your immune system with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise can negatively impact your immune system and impede its ability to defend against illness.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

 

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

      2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens

Supplements that support the immune system help to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria. Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

As our gut houses a large part of our immunity, it is very important that we make sure we give it some love as well. Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils* such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender all support gut health and can support our immune system.

*Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

  1. Exercise. It improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better

So get up and get moving.  Go for a walk.  Do some stretching.  Shimmy on the dance floor.  Do whatever you enjoy to get your muscles flexing and your heart pumping.

  1. Implement stress management techniques

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed to help the immune system function. So find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

Here are some tips for you to help you improve your sleep:

  • Deal with your stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room and no sound distraction. Our immune system loves the chill!
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.

 

So with these strategies forming your template, design your plan and work each and every day to strengthen your immune system.