We hear a lot about blood sugar control, and if you’re suffering from diabetes, it’s one of the biggest issues on your personal health radar. But what is blood sugar, exactly, and why is it so important to your health?
What Is Blood Sugar?
Sugar in the blood is called glucose. How do you get sugar in your blood? It can only come from the foods you eat and many of the liquids you drink.
Where It Comes From
Any foods or liquids with carbohydrates will eventually break down to glucose in your body. In some cases, this happens almost immediately, as when you eat processed white sugar. Other times, it takes a short while, as when your body has to break down simple starches like refined white flour, white rice, or potatoes. It takes your body even longer to break down complex starches, like whole grains or sweet potatoes, into glucose, but eventually, it does.
The amount of starch you eat and the type you consume will affect your blood sugar levels. If you eat little carbohydrate or only eat complex starches, and especially if you eat it with other things that slow down the conversion process, your blood sugar levels will be lower. If you eat too many carbs or only simple starches, your blood sugar levels will spike very quickly.
How the Body Deals With It
Our ancient ancestors were hunter-gatherers, and as such, rarely had access to carbohydrates. When they did happen upon some, usually in the form of fruit, it was important to eat as much as possible in order to put on fat. Extra fat would give them fat stores to draw on during a harsh winter. Our bodies still function this way today even though we have access to a regular supply of food.
Your body doesn’t want a lot of glucose in the bloodstream because that’s not good for you. It wants you to either burn or store that sugar quickly. Burning it as energy is useful, of course, and if you’re heading out after your meal to work at heavy manual labor for a few hours, some glucose is nice to have. But what you don’t burn for energy, your body will store as fat, and in the modern world, most of us aren’t rushing off to work the fields after lunch
When you eat carbohydrates, the pancreas starts secreting insulin, which is a hormone that directs the sugar to head to the liver so it can be processed quickly. The pancreas also secretes a less well-known hormone known as glucagon, which works to lower blood sugar levels to keep things balanced. If your body needs more sugar in the blood, glucagon retrieves it from your liver. As long as these two hormones are being produced easily and in the right proportion, everything is fine.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels
When everything is operating as it should, and simple starches and sugars aren’t the mainstays of your diet, normal blood levels of glucose should be around 90-100 mg/dl or 5mM. Glucose always rises a bit after a meal and drops when you’ve gone long enough without eating, so a healthy adult with a good diet should be seeing around 115-120 mg/dl after a meal and around 60-70 mg/dl in the morning after fasting all night.
Naturally, the occasional pizza binge or cake and champagne at your anniversary meal will make levels go up beyond 120 mg/dl, but that’s ok. Our bodies understand occasional binges (remember the hunter-gatherers). What they can’t handle is constant binging, day in and day out. When breakfast is a bagel or fruit smoothie, a mid-morning snack is a donut with a sugar-laced coffee drink, lunch has two pieces of bread with a snack cake after, and dinner is pasta followed by ice cream, the body finds it very difficult to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
What Is Blood Sugar? 3 Reasons It’s Crucial for Your Health
When things get out of control, it can damage us. Healthy blood sugar levels are crucial to good health, and following a proper diet and supplementing with Glucose Control 7 Ways can help.
1. It Protects Your Pancreas
How would you perform if your boss demanded overtime five nights a week and then made you work all weekend, too? How long could you keep that up before your mental and physical health started to go? Now think of yourself as the boss, your body as the company, your organs as the managers, and your individual cells as the workers.
How the Pancreas Deteriorates
When your blood sugar levels aren’t healthy, you’re demanding a 70-hour-a-week job out of your workers. Over time, the cells get tired, and work productivity goes down. They can’t keep making insulin at the rate they once did, and so the manager–the pancreas organ itself–responds by pushing them to work harder.
In time, this will permanently damage the pancreas. When that happens, your body can no longer deal with blood sugar in a healthy way, and every branch of the company will be affected.
2. It Protects Your Blood Vessels
Keeping the work analogy, when the pancreas division can no longer keep up production, every other division suffers, starting with the blood vessels.
How the Blood Vessels Deteriorate
When sugar is high because the pancreas can’t make enough insulin, this reduces nitric oxide in the blood vessels. Over time, this causes the vessels to narrow, and it becomes harder for them to recover from increased activity. This means you’re more likely to have high blood pressure and will find it harder to get blood pressure back to normal. (http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/how-high-blood-sugars-damage-blood-vessels/)
What does this cause? Over time it can lead to:
- Heart attacks
- Vision loss
- Weakened immune system
- Kidney failure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Poor circulation
It’s Not All About Diabetes
In extreme cases, of course, pancreas failure leads to the disease known as diabetes, and diabetics are at the greatest risk for all the health conditions mentioned above. But if you keep your blood sugar levels too high all the time, even if you never develop diabetes, you still increase your risk for all these issues, and particularly cardiovascular problems and atherosclerosis.
3. It Keeps Your Weight Under Control
Few things will tank your weight loss or weight control efforts more quickly than hunger and cravings, and few things inspire hunger and cravings like high blood sugar. You probably know that you crave food when your blood sugar is low, so how does high blood sugar affect anything?
If you keep blood sugar levels high all the time, you train the hypothalamus to expect a certain amount of glucose at all times. This is important because the hypothalamus is the region of the brain that controls hunger, thirst and body temperature, among other things. Parts of your brain that could easily run off fat for fuel stop bothering. It’s easier to use sugar, and consistently high blood sugar levels have taught it to always expect a fast, easy fuel source. As the brain is trained this way over time, it takes a smaller and smaller blood sugar drop to throw it into a complete panic. This panic causes the brain to send you increasingly urgent signals for a donut or other high-sugar food. (https://www.jci.org/articles/view/57873)
Retraining the Brain
There’s no quick fix to this problem, but you can re-train your brain to love healthy blood sugar levels again. It will take some time, but with a good diet and Glucose Control 7 Ways keeping your blood sugar in check, you’ll soon find those cravings diminishing, and it becomes easier to keep weight under control.
Keep in Good Health
The answer to what is blood sugar is complex, but there’s no complexity about the health benefits of healthy blood sugar levels. Try Glucose Control 7 Ways from Panacea Scientific and achieve all the benefits of stable blood sugar.