Reading time: 2 minutesPublished: August 23, 2017
More and more people are now being diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic which means that there are struggles to control the sudden blood sugar spikes that can occur after meals.
Knowing why blood sugar spikes happen and making small changes to meals and routine can help to better manage diabetes.
So how does the body deal with blood sugar?
When a non-diabetic eats a meal, there is an immediate release of insulin into the bloodstream, and production of a hormone called amylin occurs. Insulin produced by the pancreas does its job in just a few minutes; it moves glucose obtained from food from the bloodstream into cells throughout the body. The hormone amylin keeps food from reaching the intestines too quickly, which is where the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. When this happens blood sugar rises only a small amount after meals.
For people with diabetes, the process and timings are different. The insulin takes approximately 15 minutes to start working and a further 60 to 90 minutes to peak and a further 4 hours or more to finish working. Amylin is either produced in insufficient amounts or not at all in people who have diabetes. Due to the insufficient amounts of amylin, food is digested even faster than usual. This combination of slower insulin and faster digestion can cause blood sugar levels to rise right after a meal.
Here are a few tips to help prevent blood sugar spikes
- Split your meals. To keep your blood sugar from spiking try saving a portion of your meal for a snack, one or two hours later, as smaller portions can help.
- Get moving. Taking a little exercise after eating can reduce post-meal spikes as well. When you take insulin prior to a meal or snack and exercise after, the enhanced blood flow to the skin surface is likely to make the insulin absorb and act more quickly. Ten to fifteen minutes of mild activity will help hugely.
- Understand glycemic load and carbohydrates. Glycemic load (GL) measures how much carbohydrate in a food affects your blood sugar levels. Foods made with refined carbohydrates, like white pasta, are digested quickly and have a higher GL that causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. Conversely, foods made with complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat pasta, have a lower GL that has a much smaller effect on blood sugar.
- Control portion size. Bear in mind that a larger meals mean more sugar enters the bloodstream at one time. Eating smaller portions along with low GL snacks, such as nuts, keeps your blood sugar balanced throughout the day
- Try different food combinations. Remember that what you eat with your carbohydrates is important. Protein and fat slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Combining an apple with peanut butter or serving rice with beans and avocado is really helpful. Combinations like these can lessen the blood-sugar impact of your meal. Remember, the more natural your food the more work your body has to do to digest it - which is good news for your blood sugar levels.
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Written by: Mimi