Plenty, it turns out, and it has everything to do with what you’re eating this summer. Even though summer brings with it an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, making it easier to eat healthily, it also brings added risks. What could taste better during the lazy, hazy days of summer than fruity cocktails and rich ice cream? Unfortunately, these are the foods that can spell danger for your blood sugar level. The few minutes of pleasure that you derive from those cold, sugary treats can pave the way for decades of chronic illness.
Blood Sugar Basics
When you eat sugary treats, your blood sugar levels rise. Your blood sugar level is a measure of how much sugar or glucose is circulating in your bloodstream. Too much glucose in your blood is dangerous, so your body works hard to lower the levels. It does this by releasing insulin, a hormone which enables your cells to absorb the excess glucose. The danger comes when you continue eating too much sugar, because your body responds by producing more and more insulin. Too much insulin trains your cells to become resistant to insulin, and this is called insulin resistance. The net effect is that it then takes more and more insulin to make your cells remove the glucose from your blood. When this happens, your blood sugar levels stay elevated, your insulin levels stay elevated and you develop pre-diabetes. Still want that ice cream? I know, me, too. ;-b
Moderation is the Key
Don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you can never indulge in a sugary treat again. What it means is that you need to be smart about the amount you eat and how you eat it. Have you ever heard of the glycemic index? It is simply a way of categorizing foods according to their effects on the level of glucose in your blood. A food with a high glycemic index will cause more glucose to build up than will a food with a low glycemic index. In order to control your blood sugar levels, it is helpful to eat lots of foods with a low glycemic index. And if you eat foods with a high glycemic index, be sure to pair them with low glycemic foods in order to slow the effect on your blood sugar. High glycemic foods include white flour, white sugar, white rice, and even big, white potatoes. Low glycemic foods are foods that have lots of fiber and protein. These would include beans, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts. Simply being aware of the glycemic index will help you eat in a way that reduces the stress on your body. If you are going to have an ice cream treat, make sure you eat it at the end of a meal that contains low glycemic foods. And, if possible, have it on a resistance training day – that will help also! So this summer, have an occasional treat, but be sure it is occasional…seriously. ;-b Your body will thank you!