Did you know that high blood sugar problems and type 2 diabetes are reaching epidemic levels in America? That’s right! Approximately 18.2 million Americans have type 2 diabetes! It’s most prevalent in Native-American populations and seems to affect men over 40 more than women nearly 2:1, but women do have problems with high blood sugar, and may develop type 2 diabetes particularly during the onset of menopause.
Many of my patients past the age of 40 test positive for higher than normal fasting blood sugars and borderline high hemoglobin A1c levels. It’s common for high blood sugar problems, even diabetes to increase with age due to slower metabolism, less exercise, weight gain, which all contribute to the condition.
Even though you may not develop diabetes, higher than normal blood sugar levels can cause damage throughout your body. It can cause blurry vision, numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. However, high blood sugar, and the damage it does, doesn’t have to be the case just because you’re getting older. Let me explain how you can keep your blood sugars normal and avoid its complications.
How To Keep Blood Sugar At Healthy Levels
I feel that the increasing rate of high blood sugar levels throughout America is a result of poor diets, and eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods. For the last 10 years or so, we’ve had a new food pyramid model, the base of it being 6-10 servings of starchy carbohydrates like pasta, rice, bread, noodles, etc. This food group causes the highest rise in blood sugar of all the other food groups listed. Proteins, which decrease blood sugar levels, are assigned a much smaller portion. Fats, also given minuscule mention, are now thought beneficial to maintaining stable blood sugar levels as they help decrease the time food (and glucose) leaves your stomach for digestion. The slower it is released, the slower insulin is released, and the more stable the blood sugar. Is it any wonder, then, with this out of proportion food pyramid model that Americans blood sugar/type 2 diabetes levels, are at an all time high?
I feel a healthier nutritional intake to keep blood sugar normal would look more like the following:
- 4-6 ounces of lean protein with each main meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- No more than 4 servings of whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice everyday, not more than 25 grams carbohydrate each serving; or not more than 130 grams of high quality carbs per day if you’re trying to lose weight, and 200 if you’re trying to maintain your weight.
- 7-8 servings of vegetables per day.
- 3 servings of low glycemic index fruit (like apples, strawberries, plums) a day.
Just as crucial as the proper mix of nutrition in your diet, is 30 minutes of exercise each day such as walking, riding a bicycle, swimming. Regular exercise helps burn glucose out of your liver and regulates your blood sugars.
In addition to proper diet, several vitamins and minerals are crucial to keeping blood sugar levels optimal:
- Magnesium – studies show that magnesium deficiencies can cause blood sugar spikes. It also lowers blood pressure with a natural tranquilizer effect.
- Chromium – most American diets are sorely lacking in this mineral due to food processing. Helps maintain normal insulin and cholesterol levels. The best form to take is chromium picolinate.
- Zinc – helps glucose get into cells and improves insulin work.
- Bitter melon extract – traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic doctors have used this Asian fruit to control blood sugar/treat diabetes for centuries. Can be taken in supplement/pill form or in juice form found in Asian groceries.
- Alpha lipoic acid – lowers blood sugar and, as an antioxidant, kills free radicals and reduces the pain, burning, itching of peripheral neuropathy.
- Bilberry – their high chromium content lowers blood sugar, promotes healthy vision, improving night vision and retinopathy of diabetes. Also prevents hardening of arteries and strengthens veins by building collagen within the vascular walls.
As I counsel my patients, getting your blood sugar under control is crucial to your health and well-being. When your blood sugar levels are too high, you feel lethargic with no energy. When they are too low, you can feel depressed, irritable and without energy.
Too high blood sugars can damage all the major organs of your body while too low can make it impossible for cells to receive nourishment from glucose. Eating a balanced diet in the optimal proportions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is the best way to assure that your blood sugar levels stay balanced. However, many multivitamin formulas do not contain the necessary trace minerals like chromium, zinc, and magnesium, in the proper amounts. As I tell my patients, get good control of your blood sugar and it will prevent you from getting caught in America’s high blood sugar epidemic!