Keeping our blood sugar levels in check is one of the most useful ways to keep our mood, weight and even our heart health in check. It’s also vitally important if you’re one of the 422 million people worldwide who suffer from diabetes. Regardless of whether or not you’re a diabetes sufferer, keeping your blood sugar levels stable is important for everyone's overall health.
There are a list of risks associated with high blood sugar levels such as an increased susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Some other signs that your blood sugar could be out of balance are constant hunger, jittery or shakiness and big up’s and downs in both mood and energy.
If this is starting to sound familiar and rings a few bells in your own mind, it might be time for you to make sure your blood sugar levels are where they should be.
Our blood sugar levels rise after we consume foods with easily accessible or “simple” carbohydrates. You may automatically think of white sugar as the culprit here, however there are also some other foods that can cause blood sugar levels to spike which you may not have thought of.
Without carbohydrates it is incredibly difficult for our bodies to survive and thrive, so instead of advising you to avoid them we just need to be smart about the types of carbohydrate-containing foods that we are eating, and, of course, how regularly we are consuming them.
The Sugar Hormone Known As Insulin Is What It All Boils Down To
This hormone also helps the body to store fat and secrete glucose to the cells. It’s important to note that insulin is NOT the enemy.
Typically, insulin does an awesome job at keeping our energy levels stable. In order to make sure it does its job, we need to be gentle and “pace ourselves” so to speak, instead of sending our insulin on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs!
Again, if you or somebody you know is living with diabetes, you might be familiar with keeping your blood sugar stable. However, even if you’re not a sufferer of diabetes, eating foods with a high glycemic index can lead to insulin resistance.
Here is a list of the top 7 foods that can spike your blood sugar levels.
1. Bread - Even The "Whole-Grain" Kind
The way bread is so massed produced today has stripped a lot of it’s nutrition, and hopefully we all know by now that bread isn’t the most nutritious food out there. Bread is rocket fuel to the body's blood sugar. The starches in bread break down very quickly in the digestive tract and make their way into the bloodstream as glucose. This process causes a rapid spike in both insulin levels and blood sugar. Instead, try serving your dish on a thick slice of sweet potato or a homemade bread made with almond meal.
2. Processed Meat
It may be time to say “no” to hot dogs. We’re not suggesting cutting out meat all together however, studies show that eating lots of processed meat could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Tweet - Studies show that eating lots of processed meat could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Studies also show that those that ate even a small amount of processed meats such as bacon or sausages were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. You can simply swap processed meats for a less processed version or plant-based protein options such as beans or lentils.
3. Fat-Free Food
The term “fat-free” or “low-fat” is an easy one to get caught out on. We think we’re doing the right thing here, right!? Who knew that manufacturers generally have to increase the sugar content of these foods? By taking out the fat, foods often lose a lot of their flavor, hence the need to add sugar. Eating a few too many “fat-free” foods can send your blood sugar sky-high, making it difficult to control your overall calorie intake as well as maintain stable energy levels.
Now we know it's not quite "food" but one thing we have known for a long time now is that smoking does us no good. You may not have realized it, but nicotine actually raises your blood sugar levels. If you’re a smoker with diabetes, this is something to be extremely mindful of. The pairing of diabetes along with cigarette smoking is a dangerous mix and can lead to diabetes complications, heart attack, kidney failure, stroke and nerve damage.
5. Refined Breakfast Cereals
Most grocery store breakfast cereals are typically laden with sugar. Without realizing it, you can easily be consuming more than your recommended daily sugar intake simply by eating a bowl of your favorite crunchy critters. Be sure to check the ingredients list on your favorite go-to box of cereal. If sugar is listed as one of the first ingredients, it’s probably a good indication to steer clear. Instead, why not try making oatmeal, overnight oats or browsing the countless breakfast options we have right here on Foodmatters.com.
6. Nut Milk
Believe it or not, certain nut milks can indeed play a role in increasing your blood sugar levels. Store bought nut milks often contain added sugar to increase flavor. If you love drinking nut milk, there's no need to worry...you still can! Either make your own or if opting for the store-bought variety, be sure to get the unsweetened kind to avoid excess sugar. Here are our picks for almond, rice and hemp milk options.
You don’t need to ingest calories in order to spike your blood sugar. Coffee - even black coffee which contains virtually no calories - can have an effect. This is all thanks to caffeine. The same rule applies to other caffeinated drinks such as green tea, black tea and energy drinks. If blood sugar is something you’re trying to be mindful of, opt for caffeine-free versions instead.