Blood Sugar Management Using Food as Medicine

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From a nutritional perspective, managing blood glucose levels is one of the key factors to promoting optimal health. Though often only considered a concern for diabetics, having irregular blood sugar levels can lead to development of what medical researchers often refer to as the “four killers” – the leading causes of death by chronic disease in North America. These diseases include cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes. Maintaining balanced blood glucose levels reduces your risk of developing the four killers.

In addition to reducing your risk of premature death from chronic disease, keeping your blood sugars within the normal range helps promote a healthy body weight, promotes vibrant energy levels and optimizes cognitive function. It also aids in improving cellular functioning by providing an appropriate amount of glucose to the cells, which are convert to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), also referred to as “cellular energy”. Having enough of this vital energy molecule is extremely important, as this fuels every function in your body and brain. This cellular energy optimization provides the foundation for anti aging medicine, as well as increasing your cognitive and physical performance.

Modern research in the field of longevity turns to the “Blue Zones” – specific isolated geographical locations with the highest percentile of centenarians – shows that one of the few components these long lived cultures share is a low glycemic diet. Eating a low glycemic diet appears to be the key to longevity and living free of disease.

A low glycemic diet consists of ample protein, an abundance of fat, a variety of soluble and insoluble fibre, and a moderate amount of complex, low-sugar carbohydrates. What this will look like precisely will vary from region to region, but generally includes protein from animal sources such as ruminant animals, poultry, wild game, or seafood, fats from organ meats, bone marrow and plant based oils from olives and nuts and seeds, and a variety of fresh, seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables. These diets are totally devoid of highly refined sweeteners, and processed grain products such as white flour. This keeps blood sugar within a healthy range, avoiding sudden spikes and drops from consuming high amounts of concentrated sugars.

The easiest way to achieve a low glycemic diet is to eat whole, fresh and seasonally available foods that are grown locally, and avoiding packaged and processed food products. White flour and all forms of sweeteners – refined or natural – should be kept to a minimum. Always consume fats and proteins alongside your carbohydrates to moderate the increase in blood glucose, and slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.
In herbal medicine, cinnamon is a traditional remedy to help lower blood sugar levels. The mechanism involved is by cinnamon improving insulin sensitivity, where our cells are more receptive to the signalling molecules involved in the utilization of glucose. This means our cells more easily uptake glucose, and can better break it down and convert it to energy. Cinnamon can be consumed alongside food, used as a spice, or added to drinks and desserts. Likewise, it can be taken as a herbal preparation, such as an alcohol-based tincture or a capsule.

Eating a low glycemic diet and consuming cinnamon regularly can help support healthy blood glucose levels, effectively reduce the risk of developing one of the four killers, and help maintain a healthy body mass. Try cinnamon in your morning coffee, or in balanced meals such as meaty stews, on roasted root vegetables with butter, or on whole grain desserts with organic unsweetened whipping cream.

Kayla MacDonald, R.H.N.


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