Controlling blood glucose is vital for health, vitality, and energy. Diabetics and those suffering from insulin resistnace are particularly aware of the importance of managing glucose, or sugar, in the body. Here we will show just where this sugar comes from.
Dietary carbohydrate intake has a large impact on blood glucose levels. Major carb sources include grain products such as breads, cereal, oatmeal, rice, whole-wheat flour, pretzels, noodles, grits, cornmeal, tortillas, crackers, corn bread, pita bread, and pastas. These are staples in many diets and often make up the majority of calories in meals. The next big source of carbohydrates come from non-grain starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, fruits, dried fruits and vegetables. Last, there are obviously high carbohydrate concentrations in sugary food and beverage products. Candy and chocolates are easy to single out, but so many products have additives such as high-fructose corn syrup, that it always pays to check the label. "Healthy" options including yogurts, breakfast bars, and pre-packaged meals may contain 15g of carbohydrates or more per serving.
Drinks can also pack a big sugar punch. Sodas are clear offenders and many people lose weight very quickly just by dropping their soda habit. High sugar levels are found in many other liquids as well. Some brands of bottled green tea contain almost as many calories from sugar as soda! Popular coffee drinks made with cream, syrup, and other additives are not much healthier than milkshakes. Fruit juices of all kinds contain higher concentrations of carbohydrates compared to the whole fruit source because of the removal of the flesh and fiber components. Milk also makes the list. Even skim milk is relatively high carb.
When blood glucose gets too low, in the absence of food, the hormones glucagon and cortisol signal the start of gluconeogenesis - the manufacture of glucose from non-glucose substrates. This is an example of how blood sugar levels are manipulated by the body independently of a specific food. On the other hand, this process is often precipitated by a high carb, low protein/fat meal resulting in a "sugar crash." Daily alcohol consumption can increase the effect of insulin. Elevated insulin levels may be the cause of hypoglycemia.
Carbohydrate intake is clearly the major player in blood glucose levels, but it is also important to understand their effects on hormones and how those hormones in turn contribute to these levels.
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