Market research shows almost half of U.S. consumers are very or extremely concerned about high blood glucose levels, and 40 percent say they have plans to address their blood sugar levels over the next year.
But what exactly is blood sugar, and what can you do to support healthy blood sugar levels? Here, the short answer to your blood sugar questions.
What Is Blood Sugar?
You’ve probably heard blood sugar referred to as blood glucose. We primarily obtain glucose from carbohydrates in the diet. It’s used in our cells and body for energy. Excess blood glucose that isn’t used for energy is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, or as lipid in fat tissues. Any macronutrient—be it carbohydrates, protein, or fat—that is consumed in excess is stored in adipose (fat) tissue.
When your body needs energy, a hormone in your pancreas called glucagon signals your body to utilize its glycogen stores and convert it into glucose. This converted glucose is dispersed through the bloodstream and used in cells and tissues.
The hormone insulin is also produced in the pancreas, to help keep blood glucose in a healthy range.
OK, So What About Glycemic Index?
Glycemic Index (GI) is the measure of how quickly certain foods cause our blood sugar to rise. GI ranks food on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher-score foods making blood sugar increase more rapidly, and lower scores linked to slower blood sugar increase.
Read More: How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster
For instance, pretzels have a GI of 83, which means they are digested and absorbed quickly, and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. Foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat have a lower GI, and are broken down more slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar during digestion.
Here’s Where It Gets Tricky…
If your blood sugar is not balanced, it can negatively affect your health.
High blood glucose can be associated with fatigue, frequent urination, thirst, blurred vision, slowed healing, and risk of developing diabetes. Meanwhile, low blood glucose may lead to symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, anxiousness, irritability, intense hunger, shaking, sweating, and chills. (Here’s more information about sneaky ways low blood sugar could be impacting you.)
Nutrients That Can Support Blood Sugar Balance
There are many nutritional ingredients and supplements that can aid blood sugar management. Here are some of the most popular and well-researched ingredients to support healthy blood glucose.
- Berberine: Research suggests berberine may support healthy insulin levels and assist sugar uptake from your blood to your muscles, thereby supporting blood glucose levels.
- Chromium: Chromium deficiency can slow the body’s ability to use carbs for energy and increase insulin needs. Supplementation may support healthy insulin levels and assist pancreatic health.
- Cinnamon: Numerous clinical studies have shown this popular spice may help assist healthy blood sugar levels and help cells respond to insulin.
- American Ginseng: Research suggests ginseng grown in North America may help control post-meal blood sugar spikes.
- Vitamin D: Research shows supplementing with vitamin D may support pancreatic cells that create insulin, which could support the body’s response to the hormone.
- Magnesium: Low magnesium is often a sign your blood sugar isn’t under control. This mineral is involved with normal insulin secretion and insulin action in the body’s tissues.
The Bottom Line
It’s incredibly important, especially as we age, to keep our blood sugar levels in check. Luckily, there are many well-researched nutrients that can support balance.