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Like most people, you’ve probably never given your blood glucose a second thought, unless you have diabetes. But researchers now know that whether or not you have diabetes, a diet loaded with foods that send blood glucose on a roller-coaster ride can increase your risk of heart disease by damaging your blood vessels and raising your cholesterol. It may even chip away at your memory and increase the risk of certain cancers.
This realisation is nothing short of a revolution in the way we understand diet and health. Fortunately, none of the damage happens overnight, and even modest changes in the foods you eat every day can start you on a healthier path and make you feel more alert, alive and energised immediately.
The lure of ‘fast-acting’ foods
When you need a quick pick-me-up, what do you reach for—lollies, a sugary doughnut, a gooey Danish or a packet of biscuits? These ‘fast-acting’ foods are handy (they’re called convenience foods after all), and they take no time at all to dissolve in your stomach. They race into your bloodstream, flooding your body with blood glucose and you’re raring to go! The trouble is the surge doesn’t last long, leaving you feeling worse off than before—and hungry again well before your next mealtime.
Unfortunately, our diets are chock-full of foods that send us for a wild ride on the blood glucose roller-coaster. It’s no wonder that most of us have less energy than we’d like and feel listless too often. It’s also no wonder that most of us weigh more than we want to. Yes, eating too much and exercising too little get the lion’s share of the blame, but the blood glucose roller-coaster contributes by setting in motion a chain of events that eventually sends you shopping for bigger jeans.
Sound bad? Low energy and weight gain are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what happens when your blood glucose swings high and low.
Why blood glucose matters
For most of us, even when our blood glucose skyrockets after a large meal, our body can bring it back to normal in a few hours with no problem. Only people with untreated diabetes have blood glucose levels that stay quite high most of the time. For a long time, doctors thought that only those people needed to be concerned about the effect of food on their blood glucose level. Now we know that even in healthy people, high blood glucose after meals can, over time, damage the body, even if it never causes diabetes.
By now you’re wondering, ‘How can I get off the roller-coaster?’ Take heart: it’s not that difficult.
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