Everyone knows that nutrition plays a critical role in overall well-being, but when it comes to getting through any given day, one of the biggest factors in how you’ll feel is your blood sugar levels. That’s because, alongside stimulants like caffeine, blood sugar fluctuations play a major role in mood and alertness. When you eat foods that cause your blood sugar levels to spike, you feel a buzz, and then experience a subsequent crash. And, conversely, when you choose foods that support more stable insulin levels, you’ll experience equally stable energy levels. The question, then, is how can you shift from chaotic sugar spikes to that preferable, even keel?
Attaining stable blood sugar levels is fundamentally dependent on what we eat, and many popular and otherwise healthy foods – items like potatoes, watermelon, and coconut milk – will wreak havoc with your blood sugar.
However, by choosing these three foods, you can give your body the nutrition it needs without those sugar-fueled highs and lows.
1. Snack on Nuts
Many dietary guides recommend nuts as a healthy snack, and for good reason. Nuts are high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates, making them nutritious and satiating, and these same characteristics mean they’ll also support more stable blood sugar levels. In fact, researchers have studied how peanuts and almonds, two of the most popular snacking choices, can help some people with Type 2 diabetes regulate blood glucose levels, lose weight, and moderate blood lipids. The dietary changes implemented in this diet also helped reduce systemic inflammation markers, which are an important factor in long-term health.
Of course, you don’t need to have Type 2 diabetes or be pre-diabetic to benefit from swapping out conventional sugary snacks for nuts. You’ll still see more stable blood sugar levels when you snack on almonds thanks to their protein, fat, and fiber content, as well as getting an infusion of key nutrients like Vitamin E and B6.
2. Swap in Ancient Grains
If you’ve ever experienced the infamous post-lunch slump, then you know the terrible power of a sandwich or some leftover pasta – these simple carbs provide a jolt of sugar-fueled energy and then a subsequent crash. But, while a glycemic index chart will tell you that white or wheat bread have a moderate rating in terms of their insulin response, our bodies see to react more dramatically. Wheat also seems to be associated with systemic inflammation, even in those who don’t have Celiac disease or another allergy or intolerance. Unfortunately, wheat is a staple food in Western diets, which can leave many people at a loss. What should you eat instead?
One group of potential contenders for an alternative to wheat are ancient grains, such as einkorn, rye, and emmer. Researchers have found that replacing wheat with these grains in the diets of genetically modified mice who were designed to model Type 2 diabetes slowed the development of the disease by helping to naturally manage blood glucose levels.
3. A Smarter Sweets
If names were direct descriptions of food, it would make sense for sugar-conscious diners to avoid sweet potatoes in favor of their plainer cousin, but when it comes to their impact on blood sugar, not everything is as it seems. In fact, while typical white potatoes have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause a rapid insulin response, sweet potatoes have a moderate GI rating and have been shown to have anti-diabetic properties. Given that many Type 2 diabetics can control their condition through lifestyle management, especially early after onset, sweet potatoes are a smart and satisfying alternative to higher glycemic carbohydrates.
For every food that sends your blood sugar through the roof, there are countless healthy and delicious options that will make you feel satisfied and energized throughout the day. It’s time to skip the inflammation-driving sugar bombs in favor of foods with more stable metabolic activity. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes.