What exactly is blood sugar it and what effect does it have on our weight loss? Here, Professor Iain Broom, Medical Director of LighterLife, explains all…
What is blood sugar and why is it important?
Blood sugar is effectively glucose in the blood. When we eat, the carbohydrate in our food is converted to glucose in the gut and by the liver. It then circulates around the bloodstream and it’s moved into the cells via the hormone insulin. Glucose is required by certain organs, including the brain and healing tissues, as the chief source of fuel. It’s also the sole energy source for red blood cells.
What is a healthy blood-sugar level?
Normally, the body maintains the blood-glucose level at a range between about 3.6 and 6 millimoles per litre (mmoL). It rises after a meal or snack and peaks within an hour or so of the food being consumed. However, many people eat too much sugar, which can lead to all sorts of health problems. In fact, various American studies show the average person consumes 2-3Ib of sugar a week in their diets.
What are the health risks of having high blood-sugar levels?
Over the course of time, high blood sugar can be been linked to a range of health problems. This is because high blood sugar levels lead to elevated insulin levels (as the more sugar you have in your blood, the more insulin your body needs to produce to move it into your cells) and high insulin levels lead to an increased risk of diabetes type 2. There are also some links to cancer, heart disease and other painful conditions. Since high-sugar diets are linked to increased insulin secretion this can also have detrimental effects on the body’s hormones.
What causes high blood sugar?
Generally speaking, highly processed carbohydrates such as some breads and sugary cereals plus cakes, biscuits and puddings tend to cause an increase in blood sugar. However, there’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation here! Increased weight leads to high blood sugar, and if you have high blood sugar you’re more likely to eat more, because you get hungrier. To get guidance as to which foods are better at keeping blood sugars stable you need to look at their glycemic index* (GI) – that’s the extent to which a particular carbohydrate will impact on blood-sugar levels.
Why do obese people tend to have higher blood sugar?
The fact is, if you’re obese you’re more likely to be insulin resistant, which means your body finds it harder to stabilise blood sugar. In fact, I’ve found that obese patients who come to my weight-loss clinic often have a blood-sugar level in between normal and diabetic.
Why is it so important to choose food that keeps blood-sugar levels stable?
Because a more gradual infusion of sugars into the bloodstream means you stay fuller for longer. You won’t get that carb ‘high’ followed by a ‘crash’, which can lead to overeating. So stick to lean protein, fruit and vegetables, and slow-release carbs like porridge for more stable blood-sugar levels.
What effect do LighterLife Total and Lite have on blood sugar levels?
Both LighterLife Total and Lite are low-carb diets, so they promote excellent blood-sugar levels and changes in blood fats that are extremely beneficial. Good cholesterol increases for people doing LighterLife, too. The overall effect of a VLCD like LighterLife is to produce a metabolic profile within the blood that is actually very kind to your heart and arteries. Often, people who’ve tended to have high blood-sugar levels really benefit from a VLCD, providing they also get all the nutrients and vitamins they need. If you’re losing weight, then four daily LighterLife Foodpacks meet all your nutritional requirements.
Why is it some people get shaky or faint when they don’t eat for more than a couple of hours?
I sometimes have patients coming into my clinic with this complaint. They tend to be the ones who eat lots of refined sugar – prevalent in processed carbs. Carbs tends to cause an overshoot of insulin to cope with rapidly rising blood sugar. High insulin levels can cause these physical symptoms. When I suggest my patients cut down on processed carbs and eat more protein, they’re initially sceptical, but the results are often excellent.
Do artificial sweeteners impact on blood sugars?
No, although some studies show a link between some sweeteners and cancer. I advise my patients to wean themselves off sweeteners because the palate changes and they eventually stop craving them. That sweet, sugary taste we’re so used to in modern diets is not naturally abundant in nature.
For more information go to glycemic-index.org