Controlling blood glucose is extremely important as you enter your golden years. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level throughout the day can become harder as you age, and poor diet and exercise habits can lead to metabolic syndrome – the pre-cursor to diabetes. But if you are dealing with high blood sugar or just want to find ways to keep it balanced, here are 5 tips on maintaining glucose levels.
1. Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates contain fiber and protein, which slow the breakdown and absorption of the carbohydrates so they do not become sugars too quickly and cause a glucose spike. Simple carbs are easily digested into sugars like glucose, fructose and lactose (in dairy items). This is why foods like white bread, white potatoes, white rice, and white flour pastas are not recommended for controlling blood sugar; they have little digestive buffer.
To slow absorption and control blood sugar you should stick to whole grain baked goods, brown rice, whole wheat pastas, sweet potatoes and other colorful root vegetables, and ancient grains like quinoa and millet.
Soluble fiber in fruits and veggies mixes with water to create a gel. This gel helps you feel full and slow digestion and sugar absorption. Insoluble fiber “moves things along” through the digestive system, preventing blockages.
You probably know soft drinks containing high fructose corn syrup immediately spikes blood glucose. But what about fruit juices? Well, even processed fruit juices are bad for blood sugar because of the lack of fiber. So even healthy fruit and vegetable juices should be swapped for the fresh and whole variety to safely maintain blood glucose.
Eat whole apples, oranges, pineapple, carrots, beets and tomatoes to gain all their benefits. And if you must drink juice, make it fresh and at home with a juicer – and make it mostly vegetables.
Protein also slows digestion and helps create a feeling of fullness, stopping you from eating and potentially increase blood sugar even more. Different stomach and intestinal chemicals are needed to digest carbs and proteins, and they generally do a less efficient job when combined. So eating protein with your carbs keeps them from being fully absorbed, and absorbed too quickly.
Add lean protein to carb heavy meals with whole, natural chicken or turkey breast. Or add pea or rice protein to your favorite smoothies or juices for an added boost.
4. Natural Sugars
Natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy are the best way to get real sugar in your system. Whole foods come with fiber, bran, protein, enzymes, antioxidants and a host of wholesome goodness for the body. Eat berries, melons, root vegetables, and your favorite organic dairy products.
Avoid corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, and processed heated honey at all costs. Use raw organic honey, turbinado sugar, coconut sugar or agave nectar sparingly to add sweetness to your dishes without the overbearing flavors of fruits or vegetables.
5. Natural Sugar Substitutes
Sugar substitutes have their own risk and rewards. Avoid anything in a pink, yellow, blue box or packet. Spring instead for powdered or liquid stevia or monk fruit extracts; natural extracts from real plants. Or go for xylitol or erythritol sugar substitutes. These are not as natural, but better than the alternative chemical substitutes.
Maintaining blood sugar naturally may not always be possible. If you find your blood sugar is still high after making changes to your diet, consult a doctor and talk about your options. But keep those changes going; they’ll end up helping you stay healthier in the long run.