7 Strategies to Buffer Blood Sugar Levels
Sweet foods and starches are not genetically congruent to eat on a regular basis. Our ancestors looked at these as rare delicacies. Most people in our society today are raised on a steady diet of sugars, grains and other starches. In this article you will discover 7 simple strategies to buffer blood sugar levels so you can have all day energy!
Foods are measured for their effect on blood sugar through the Glycemic Index (GI). The GI ranges from 0-100. Foods that have a GI index under 55 are considered low GI. A range of 56-69 is considered medium GI while 70+ is considered high. It is recommended to eat foods that are low GI and utilize different strategies to lower and/or buffer these GI responses in your body (1).
Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load:
Another way of ranking the blood sugar response of different foods is through the Glycemic Load (GL). The GL measures how long the food will release sugar into the system. Many foods may be high GI but low GL. This is important to know in order to regulate your blood sugar levels.
An example of this would be fruit such as watermelon. Other foods are low GI but high GL such as oatmeal which releases sugar into the system for an extended period of time. This causes a slow increase in blood sugar levels
A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11-19 is medium and a GL of 10 or less is low. High GL foods are inflammatory in nature so it is advisable to stick with foods that are low GI and GL as much as possible or use advanced strategies to buffer the glycemic response in the body (2).
Follow A Healing Diet
There are many versions of what a healing diet is all over the internet. I teach my clients a few foundational principles involved in this. The first thing to focus on is to avoid processed foods and instead choose real foods that come from nature or are as natural as possible. These foods will naturally have a lower glycemic index and load and be more supportive to stable blood sugar levels.
The 3 key steps to balance our blood sugar with diet include getting rid of sugar and grains. This is obvious since sugars, grains and starches are what increase our blood sugar when we eat them. The next thing is to get rid of inflammatory fatty acids such as processed vegetables oils (corn, canola, soybean, safflower, peanut, etc) and eat more good fats such as avocados, coconut fats, grass-fed butter and olives/olive oil.
Finally, the last change is to stop eating conventional meat that is raised in poor conditions and fed grains. Instead, grass-fed, organic and pasture-raised animal products are significantly higher in nutrient density and lower in environmental toxins. With fish, we are looking for wild-caught rather than farm raised. Getting the right animal products makes a big difference in our bodies production of inflammation and our ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Simple Strategies to Improve Blood Sugar
These 7 simple strategies, help our bodies to improve their ability to stabilize our blood sugar and keep us from having a blood sugar imbalance. These strategies are great to apply on a daily basis and especially useful to do if you are consuming a higher carbohydrate meal.
If I am going to have a sugary dessert, I always apply 2-3 of these strategies in order to get the best synergistic effect for keeping my blood sugar stable. Give these a shot and let us know in the comments box which of these you feel the best with.
1. Use Lemon:
The citric acid in lemon helps to buffer the release of blood sugar (3). Additionally, the anti-oxidants and trace minerals within lemon help to improve insulin signaling, boost liver function and stabilize blood sugar. Squeeze a lemon on as many foods as possible and drink it fresh squeezed in purified water.
2. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar is very high in acetic acid. This acid has been shown to reduce the glycemic response of a typical carbohydrate based meal by 31% (4).
Another study reduced a carbohydrate meal from a typical glycemic index of 100 to 64 (5). Apple cider vinegar (ACV) also provides enzymes, probiotics and trace minerals that enhance blood sugar signaling. Use ACV on as many foods as possible. You can also take 1-2 tbsps of ACV in water about 30 minutes before your higher carbohydate meal to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible.
3. Use Fermented Foods
This would include coconut kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, & kimchi. Raw, grass-fed fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, amasai, fermented whey & raw cheese.
These foods have a natural acid to slow the release of blood sugar and they provide enzymes, probiotics and other bioactive nutrients that enhance blood sugar signaling. Use a variety of different fermented foods every day (6).
4. Use Cinnamon:
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce gastric emptying rate, improve insulin receptor sensitivity and inhibit enzymes that inactivate insulin receptors (7).
Cinnamon is also an extremely powerful anti-oxidant potential that prevents inflammatory conditions that damage cell membranes and insulin receptors. Cinnamon works great on starchy vegetables and on fruit. Be sure to use it whenever you consume things like dessert recipes, fruit (just sprinkle on your apple or banana) and sweet potatoes.
5. Do Air Squats:
Inactivity can cause blood sugar levels to become imbalanced. Stimulating your system with an intense exercise like squats helps to burn up stored sugar and stimulate anti-aging hormones that make you feel good. Next time you are craving sugar, do 20-50 air squats before doing anything else. If you are fit, you can do jump squats to really burn up the stored sugar in your system.
This is also a good idea before consuming anything with carbs. Squats are one of the best exercises for using up stored sugar your muscles (glycogen) and helping the body to buffer any increase in sugar or carbohydrate intake for the next 2 hours.
Try to get deep with your squats, but if you have hip or knee issues than you could try doing a half squat with an overhead press (grab some cans or light dumbells). Even better, you can do Super Brain Yoga which involves air squats done in such a way to improve your brain.
6. High Quality Multi-Vitamin with Chromium:
High quality, bioavailable multi-vitamins help the body by supplying tons of easily absorbable trace minerals and B vitamins that are critical for healthy blood sugar levels. One such nutrient is chromium which both increases the production and activates the glucose transport molecule GLUT-4 (8).
Chromium activates GLUT-4 to shift its location from deep within the cell to a position on the cell membrane. This opens a window in the cell that allows glucose to flow into the cell through a concentration gradient where it can be metabolized for energy while lowering circulating blood sugar to stable levels (9).
You want a minimum of 125-250 mcg of chromium to get a desirable blood sugar balancing effect. Most multi-vitamins do not contain anywhere near this amount. I recommend taking 1-2 caps of high energy support with each meal depending upon how many carbohydrates in your meal.
7. Insulin Manager:
This is an elite product for blood sugar sensitivity. I put all my people with blood sugar levels that are highly dysregulated on insulin manager taking 1-2 caps with each meal depending upon the carbohydrate content of the meal.
This formula has meticulously selected herbs, vitamins and minerals designed to stabilize blood sugar levels. It also contains high-potency antioxidants to reduce inflammation and improve insulin, leptin and cortisol sensitivity in the body.
This product is like a prescription medication without the side effects. It has a much stronger blood sugar stabilizing effect over multi-vitamins and isolated herbs and nutrients. Insulin manager is formulated with an emphasis on healthy cell membranes and insulin, leptin and cortisol receptor sensitivity.
Key nutrients include mega doses of chromium, biotin, thiamine, niacine, Gymnema sylvestre extract, Fenugreek extract, Bitter Gourd extract and Vanadium. These nutrients synergize to have an incredibly powerful blood sugar regulating effect. I ONLY recommend this for my clients with poor blood sugar signaling and diagnosed pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Best Ways to Test Your Blood Sugar Levels
Working with a functional medicine or nutrition practitioner to monitor your metabolism can be a game changer for your health. There are a number of blood sugar and metabolism markers that can be observed to determine the current state of your health.
Upon receiving these values, it is possible to create a really solid plan to get your body back in balance based on your lifestyle choices. In this article, I discuss the main labs to look at blood sugar metabolism which include analyzing your fasting plasma glucose, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), fasting insulin, lactose dehydrogenase (LDH), C Reactive Protein (CRP) and HbA1C.