A slew of health concerns can be caused by blood sugar levels. Educating yourself about the ways in which blood sugar affects you is crucial to balancing these levels.
Conditions associated with chronically high blood sugar levels include weight gain, cardiovascular and cognitive health, as well as a host of degenerative conditions. Even blood sugars that rise to higher levels but still stay within the normal range can be problematic. This suggests that the earlier you can catch rising blood sugars, the better.1
See our DIY blood sugar test kits here.
The Forgotten Test
In America, healthy blood sugar levels are determined by either a fasting glucose test, where normal is between 70-100 mg/mL or a hemoglobin A1C test, where normal levels are below 5.6%. While both of these tests are accurate markers for blood sugar control, they are best used for measuring the effect of poorly controlled sugars rather than the cause.
Long before blood sugars rise, the hormone insulin, made by beta cells in the pancreas to regulate blood sugar, may begin creeping up in the blood. Overconsumption of sweets, refined carbohydrates, and other comfort foods, which quickly break down to glucose, cause the body to secrete higher levels of insulin.
Even eating too much meat is a cause of too much insulin. This is how your body attempts to escort glucose from the blood to the cells in order to drive energy production.
When we eat more carbs and starches, higher insulin levels become the rule rather than the exception. Overeating fats, sweets, and starches and being sedentary can cause the body to stop responding to insulin, leaving glucose to linger in the bloodstream.
Fasting insulin tests, which are common around the world, are seldom done in the US. Fasting insulin can be an be early detector of poor blood sugar regulation. Ideally, these levels should be <5 uIU/mL. When they rise in the morning after a night of fasting, it suggests higher insulin levels even without ingestion of food, which is when you would expect more insulin in the blood.
The pancreas responds to a high-carbohydrate or -sugar meal by secreting more insulin into the blood to escort blood glucose into the cells. If there is any insulin resistance (where the cells resist the effect of insulin), insulin levels will rise in an attempt to overcome the insulin resistance. When this happens, blood sugar levels can be normal while insulin levels continue to rise.
Detecting blood sugar imbalances at this early stage by evaluating fasting insulin is key to preventing further problems. Even at this early stage, high-normal insulin levels in the blood are linked to health concerns.
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High-Normal Insulin Level Symptoms2-5
- Weight gain
- Circulation concerns
- Occasional headaches
- Reproductive imbalances
- Cognitive issues
- Cardiovascular-related concerns
- Worry / Anxiety
Tip: Next time you get a physical, ask your doctor for a fasting insulin blood test.
Healthy Blood Sugar Lifestyle Strategies
Proper diet and regular exercise are critical in maintaining healthy insulin and blood sugar levels. Foods harvested in spring allow for a more austere diet that naturally forces us to eat less. Seasonal calorie restriction is nature’s way of forcing us to burn fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates, which we burn throughout fall and winter.
Exercise is critical for maintaining healthy weight, as it sets the lymphatic system in motion and forces stored glucose from muscles to be burned as fuel. This enables insulin to more easily deliver glucose to muscle cells after a meal, resulting in lower insulin and blood sugar levels.
Regular exercise and calorie restriction both activate a longevity enzyme called AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) that supports healthy insulin levels. AMPK can boost insulin sensitivity, allowing cells to accept instead of resist the delivery of glucose.6
Learn more about Ayurvedic exercise here.
Learn more about Ayurveda fasting here.
Boosting AMPK by Boosting Lymph
In Ayurveda, the lymphatic system, one of our body’s major waste drainage systems, is always the first system evaluated. Lymphatic drainage is critical for all healthy bodily functions.
In one study, two citrus flavonoids, diosmin and hesperidin, found in oranges, have together been found to boost lymphatic flow by 191%, while supporting healthy microcirculation throughout the body. Hesperidin has also been shown to be effective in supporting healthy levels of AMPK, thus supporting healthy insulin levels.7,8
New research has linked healthy lymphatic flow to maintaining blood sugar and insulin levels already within a normal range.9 Learn more about the powerful lymphatic and circulation benefits of diosmin and hesperidin in LifeSpa’s Lymph Vein HP.