By: Jonathan Tait, D.O. – 9/10/15
Plenty, it turns out, and it has everything to do with what you’re eating this summer. Even though summer brings with it an abundance of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, making it easier to eat healthily, it also brings potential added risks.
What could taste better during the lazy, hazy weekend days of summer than a fruity cocktail while sitting by the pool?
A fruity cocktail followed by a slice of cake, or a bowl of rich ice cream?
Not so fast. Just because fruit is involved does not make it healthy.
These summer-time treats can be treacherous for you blood sugar level. More then a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips, the few minutes of pleasure that you derive from those cold, sugary treats can pave the way for decades of chronic illness.
If fact, your body’s ability to stabilize or regulate your blood sugar within a narrow window is a huge factor influencing the rate at which your tissues (and you) will age. Do you know anybody who is diabetic? Do they look older than their age?
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the science as to exactly why this happens, but the underlying mechanism is formation of something called advanced glycation end products, or conveniently known as AGEs. Essentially, when there is an abundance of circulating sugars, the surplus can stick to various tissue proteins in the body, and stick them all together. This will make the tissues stiffer, less flexible, and will definitely age them faster.
You remember smashing an egg on your friend’s head as a kid? Well first they get pretty angry, their hair mats and clumps together, and it stays clumped together even after they try to wash it out with the hose. We found it pretty amusing, not so much our parents after using all of the eggs in the refrigerator.
The tissues in your body react similarly to surges in sugar on a regular basis. When over-eating sugary foods, your knees can get angry, the back can get stiff, and you’re clearly not as amused as we were.
Internally, there are far worse side effects that age your body, increasing degeneration from a number of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or osteoarthritis.
Blood Sugar Basics
When you eat sugary treats, your blood sugar levels rise. Your blood sugar level is a measure of how much sugar or glucose is circulating in your bloodstream. Too much glucose in your blood is dangerous, so your body works hard to lower the levels. It does this by releasing insulin, a hormone which enables your cells to absorb the excess glucose.
The danger comes when you continue eating too much sugar, because your body responds by producing more and more insulin. Too much insulin trains your cells to become resistant to insulin, and this is called insulin resistance.
The net effect is that it then takes more and more insulin to make your cells remove the glucose from your blood. When this happens, your blood sugar levels stay elevated, your insulin levels stay elevated and you develop pre-diabetes.
Still want that ice cream?
Well let’s take the conversation a step further to see if you can work it into a “relatively healthy” lifestyle.
Moderation is the key, but moderating everyday will not get you to your goals
Don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you can never indulge in a sugary treat again. What it means is that you need to be smart about the amount you eat and how you eat it.
The glycemic index (GI) is a simple way of categorizing foods according to their effects on the level of glucose in your blood. A food with a high GI will cause more glucose to build up than will a food with a low GI.
In order to stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the day, it is helpful to eat lots of foods with a low glycemic index.
High glycemic foods include white flour, white sugar, white rice, white potatoes, bananas
Low glycemic foods are foods that have lots of fiber and protein. These would include beans, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, and certain types of fruits (cherries are awesome when in season).
5 Keys to Bettering Your Blood Sugar:
So this summer, feel free to reward your efforts in the gym, on the road, or down the trails with an occasional treat, but be sure it is occasional.
Committed to your health,
P.S. Are you at risk with your diet? Our unique BioScores testing will give you a snapshot of your average blood sugar, cholesterol and other factors all with just a finger stick. No blood draw needed! Contact us at 520-777-9385 or [email protected] to schedule your appointment……then see if you want to go have ice cream.