High blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems, especially if they remain high for an extended period of time. They can lead to a range of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, just to name a few.
High blood sugar levels also induce insulin secretion from the pancreas, which in turn, stops the body from mobilising and utilising fat as a fuel source.
Therefore, if you want to improve your health and body functioning as well as reverse insulin resistance, then you must keep your blood sugar level as stable as possible throughout the day. One of the best ways to do this is to eat foods that lower blood sugar in addition to using other principles that can help to keep your blood sugar level stable.
In this article we will list the foods that lower blood sugar and why they are effective at doing so. We will also cover some additional principles that you may want to use to help you reverse insulin resistance.
There are four categories that we will consider regarding foods that lower blood sugar:
- Low glycemic index (GI) foods
- Foods that improve insulin sensitivity
- High fibre foods
- Foods containing protein and fat
There are also 2 other food-related topics that you should consider as well:
- Eat ‘Complete’ Meals
- Have Small, Frequent Meals
Low glycemic index (GI) foods
Low GI foods are those foods that are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index rates carbohydrate-containing foods based upon how quickly they cause a rise in blood glucose levels.
People who have constantly high blood sugar levels, i.e. diabetics, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome or people who are insulin resistant, can benefit greatly by emphasising more low GI foods in their diet.
In saying this, you can still eating foods that are high on the glycemic index but you may want to add some low GI foods to the meal as well. The low GI foods have the effect of slowing down the absorption rate of the carbohydrates from the high GI foods. Adding protein, fat and fibre to the meal also has this effect and we will cover this later.
Here are some low GI foods that that you may like to include in your diet on a regular basis: oats, brown rice, pasta, sweet potato, peaches, pears, apples, plum, peas, sweet corn, yoghurt, and milk.
Foods that improve insulin sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is important in helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Insulin sensitivity is determined by how sensitive the insulin receptors on cell membranes are to the action of insulin. The more sensitive they are the easier insulin can bind to the receptors and allow nutrients to flow into the cells.
Several types of foods can improve insulin sensitivity. They include foods that contain omega-3 oils and foods that contain glucose disposal agents.
Fish, fish oil, flax seeds (and its oil) and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of omega-3s.
The cell membranes of all body cells are made of phospholipids, a component of which are fats and oils. Since the insulin receptors are located on cell membranes, a high intake of high-quality fats and oils will improve the structural integrity of the cell membranes and therefore also improve insulin sensitivity. This will of course, improve the passage of nutrients into the cells and wastes out of the cells, which improves the cell’s functional efficiency.
As a result, omega-3s are one of the foods that lower blood sugar effectively and should be included in your diet every day.
Glucose disposal agents (GDAs)
Glucose disposal agents (GDAs) are nutrients or components of foods that lower blood sugar and assist the body in maintaining normal range blood sugar levels. By doing so they help the body keep insulin low and therefore also assist people who are insulin resistant.
GDAs include minerals, herbs, and active ingredients from certain foods. Some examples include: chromium, selenium, vanadium, alpha lipoic acid, gymnema syvestra.
Here’s some foods that contain GDAs and are therefore foods that lower blood sugar: whole grains, shellfish, meat, fish, yeast, cereals, fenugreek seeds, garlic, turmeric, egg yolk, cheese, cinnamon and legumes.
Sometimes people find it easier to take supplemental forms of glucose disposal agents in order to ensure that they provide their body with adequate levels of these nutrients. One of the most powerful GDAs on the market is Nature’s Bounty High Potency Cinnamon Plus Chromium. It contains a combination of proven glucose disposal agents, cinnamon and chromium.
High fibre foods
Fibre, particularly soluble fibre, is a form of non-digestible carbohydrate that slows down the passage of nutrients from the gut into the blood stream. This means it has the effect of lowering a food’s glycemic index and is therefore can help to lower blood sugar.
For example, apple juice has a higher GI compared to an apple simply because the fibre has been removed. Apples contain pectin (a soluble fibre) that ‘dilutes’ the carbohydrate in the gut, slowing its absorption rate.
Fruits, and particularly vegetables, should make up the foundation of your diet. They are both good sources of soluble and insoluble fibre.
In order to ensure to get an adequate amount of fibre in your diet every day, simply follow the recommendation of 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day. You may also want to add some psyllium husks to your cereal or protein shakes in order to increase your overall fibre intake.
High fibre foods have an enormous range of health benefits. In fact, some types of fibre have been shown to dramatically boost your immune system. An example of such a fibre is, ‘Arabinogalactans’ from the Western Larch tree. The easiest way to obtain this fibre is in supplement form.
Body Concepts have a product called Gastro Forte AG, which is a pure source of Arabinogalactans. Simply add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon to your cereal or shakes each day to obtain all the benefits of this product.
Foods containing protein and fat
The macronutrients, protein and fat, are components of foods that lower blood sugar. They do this when they are consumed in a meal containing carbohydrates. This is why it is so important to eat ‘complete meals’ during the day. Complete meals are those that contain a portion of all 3 macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Protein, like fibre, has the effect of diluting the carbohydrates in the gut and slowing its absorption into the body. Fat slows down the passage of food through the gastro-intestinal tract and this also slows the absorption rate of carbohydrates.
Here are some examples of foods that are high in protein that you may want to consider including in your meals:
red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, nuts and seeds.
Some examples of foods that are high in fat but low on the glycemic index are chocolate and ice cream. Without the fat component these foods would cause a significant rise in your blood sugar levels. However, the fat slows down the absorption rate considerably.
Despite their low GI, these are certainly not foods that you want to include in your diet on a daily basis. They are both extremely energy (calorie) dense foods and are likely to contribute to fat/ weight gain. However, they do give you a good idea how fat can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and are therefore considered foods that lower blood sugar.
Other examples of foods that are high in fat are: oils, avocado, nuts, seeds, and butter.
Here are the additional nutritional principles that can assist your efforts in maintaining normal range blood sugar levels.
Eat ‘complete’ meals
The term ‘complete’ meals means that the meals we have contain a portion of all 3 macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat.
By doing so, the protein and fat components (and fibre) slow down the absorption rate of the carbohydrate, which means it has the effect of helping maintain normal range blood sugar levels, which in turn, helps to reverse insulin resistance.
Have small, frequent meals
Another way that you can stabilise your blood sugar is by reducing the size of your meals and increasing your meal frequency.
Small, frequently meals ensure minimum insulin response from meals and therefore reduced opportunity for inducing insulin resistance. It makes it much easier to maintain a normal blood sugar level by using this principle.
Overall, if you want to lower your blood sugar level to assist in overcoming insulin resistance, then consider including these foods in your diet every day as well as using the additional principles.
If you would like to discover more principles to help you overcome insulin resistance, get a copy of the Your Complete Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Plan.