10 Blood Sugar Rules We Should All Be Following To Stay Fueled & Happy
As a leading functional medicine practitioner, I know there are many underlying reasons a person struggles with weight gain, low energy, insatiable cravings, and poor brain function—but blood sugar imbalance is one of the biggest offenders. Blood sugar problems can perpetuate thyroid, cortisol, leptin, and insulin hormone problems and leave you constantly "hangry," irritable, and looking for your next sugar fix.
On top of that, I've seen the most well-intentioned people contribute to their blood sugar problems without even realizing it. The foods we eat on a regular basis can either feed disease or fuel health—and the so-called healthy foods we are taught by society are a better choice are often exacerbating these health problems. These are the top rules you should follow for optimal blood sugar balance throughout your day:
1. Eat healthy fats.
In order to switch your body from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, you want to make sure you're eating an adequate amount of healthy fats. This metabolic switch is essential for keeping blood sugar under control. Like kindling to a fire, sugar may give us a quick boost of energy, but it quickly dies out, leaving us on that wild blood-sugar roller coaster, whereas fat is like a log to a fire—slow burning and long-lasting.
Healthy fats don't only keep you satiated, but they help curb your cravings so you are less tempted to grab blood-sugar-spiking junk foods. Just remember that not all fats are considered healthy; stay away from polyunsaturated fatty acid oils such as corn, canola, soybean, and sunflower oil. These are highly processed and oxidize at high temperatures, which can trigger inflammation. I suggest sticking with fats in the form of avocados, wild-caught fish, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.
2. Choose natural sweeteners wisely.
When trying to rebalance blood sugar, staying away from sugar is a wise choice. Thankfully, there are many natural options on the market now to help you satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar—that is, if you choose the right sweetener, as not all options are created equal. Check out my guide for the full list, but some of my favorite ones include 100 percent organic, unprocessed monk fruit extract and stevia.
3. Be mindful of fruit.
Just like natural sweeteners, moderation of fruit is key. Fruit still contains fructose, which can significantly affect your blood sugar when consumed in large amounts. Not only should you be mindful of the amount of fruit you are regularly eating, but choose instead for lower fructose fruits such as lemons, limes, and berries. And as a bonus, berries are loaded with powerful antioxidants.
4. Choose the right diet for you.
We are all alive because of brilliant biochemistry, and what works for one person doesn't always work for the next. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet, there are some eating plans that are more conducive to lowering blood sugar than others. My previous article explains in detail how exactly each diet can help manage blood sugar, but each one of these focuses on taking out foods that typically affect blood sugar. These include a paleo diet, AIP diet, and ketogenic diet. In fact, a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb ketogenic diet has been shown to reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes in just 10 weeks! I advocate for a mostly plant-based keto diet in my book Ketotarian.
5. Lower your healthy carbs.
Carbohydrates quickly convert glucose in your body. You may already skip the bread basket and sub your regular pasta with zoodles, but starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are still considered carbs and can affect your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes are fine in moderation, but if you're going to load up, do it with nonstarchy options such as dark leafy greens and broccoli.
6. Take a break from eating.
7. Support all areas of your body.
Think of your body like a car—all parts are essential to keep running optimally. If one system is thrown off, chances are it is going to affect other areas, including blood sugar. For example, poor gut health and bacterial imbalances are linked to blood sugar problems.
8. Keep moving.
Exercise is an essential part of any wellness routine. In the immediate practice, exercise helps your muscles take in more glucose to utilize for energy, whereas a regular exercise routine increases insulin resistance. Make sure you're moving your body every single day in some way; your blood sugar will be better for it!
9. Add in natural medicines.
While food should be a primary focus, there are also many natural plant-medicines that can be taken to help manage blood sugar. Cinnamon contains a bioflavonoid called proanthocyanidin that can lower triglycerides and blood sugar, and the adaptogenic mushroom reishi down-regulates the alpha-glucosidase enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar.
10. Manage your stress.
Stress can be implicated in a variety of health problems. When you're stressed it increases your body's release of your stress hormone cortisol, which plays a role in spiking blood sugar. Constant stress means constantly elevated blood sugar, so find a mindfulness practice that works for your life so you can start to de-stress today.