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Your blood sugar (also known as blood glucose or glucose levels) is an essential part of how your body fuels itself. Some of the biggest benefits of managing your glucose well are reducing your risk for insulin resistance, type II diabetes, avoiding obesity, and maintaining energy levels throughout your day. Conversely, having unstable glucose levels can result in excess bodyfat, insulin resistance and constant feels of hunger or low energy.
Your blood sugar levels are primarily affected when you eat carbohydrates, which your digestive system turns into glucose. Eating sugar will obviously increase your blood sugar, but things that are “salty” and not sweet can also be major sources of carbohydrates. It is important to note that any food with carbohydrates (ie chips, bread, pizza, etc.) will increase your blood sugar, regardless of whether it tastes “sweet”. The digestion of carbohydrates can start as soon as it is in your mouth, but is primarily absorbed from the first third of the small intestine and transported into our bloodstream. Therefore, there can be a slight delay in between eating and your glucose changing.
Eating carbohydrates is not the only thing that affects your sugar. Many other systems can cause it to go up or down. Exercise, stress and many other triggers can also cause your blood sugar to go up.
Generally, your body will try to maintain a blood glucose of about 100 mg/dL. To do this, your body uses two important hormones: insulin and glucagon.
When glucose is high, insulin is released. This moves glucose from the blood into our muscles, liver, and fat cells. This is done automatically any time glucose is high, which will be damaging to all our cells otherwise. Once out of your blood, glucose is broken down to be used immediately as energy or stored for later as glycogen. Additional reserves can be converted into body fat in your fat cells.
When glucose levels are low, our body releases glucagon. It is a hormone that triggers the release of more glucose back into the blood stream.
There are a wide variety of ways to influence your glucose levels. Limiting our intake of processed sugar, balancing all carbohydrates intake with the other essential macronutrients, and exercising frequently are among the most important things we could do to help support a healthy metabolic system.