What causes energy levels to dip?
Do you sometimes feel like you’re constantly having to snack in order to keep your energy levels up? Do you get the standard 3 o’clock dip? Blood sugar is at the basis of a multitude of health concerns. Constant high blood sugar can decrease insulin sensitivity, cause hypoglycaemia, can effect weight, hormone balance, anxiety, concentration, energy fluctuations and many health conditions.
When we eat a meal, blood sugar will go up and the pancreas will release insulin to try and bring the levels back down normal. Some glucose will be used in cells within the brain and muscles for energy, the rest is stored in the liver which- if in excess can cause weight gain. When blood sugar levels spike too quickly, too much insulin can be released causing glucose levels to be lower than normal and leave us feeling low, tired and hungry.
Sugar is sticky and creates glycosylation reactions where glucose sticks to proteins in the blood which raises HbA1c levels. It is possible to check these levels with a GP if there is concern.
If you are concerned about your blood sugar, you should always seek advice from your GP. Here are some tips to keep blood sugar stable:
1. Lower the glycemic load
The glycemic load (GL) is the unit of measurement which measures the impact of the food on blood sugar levels. A low-glycemic load will reduce the effects that carbohydrates have on blood glucose levels and promote the burning of fat for fuel instead of glucose. GL is dependent on the glycemic index which determines how quickly the energy from food is released. Slow release foods will keep blood sugar stable for longer without the sugar spike. High starch foods like pasta, rice and potatoes as well as refined sugars will increase the GI and cause issues with insulin. Foods with a low GL include fruits like cherries, plums and apples, vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms and broccoli as well as rye, oats, nuts and legumes.
2. High Fibre
Fibre is crucial for reducing blood sugar levels and triglycerides during a meal. It mops up cholesterol and glucose, therefore slowing down glucose absorption into the blood (these include fruits too which is why smoothies may be a better option over juices as fibre is the component which lessens the effect of fructose). A great way to start the day is with a bowl of organic gluten free porridge. Oats contain beta-glucans which naturally suppresses insulin spikes by delaying stomach emptying and therefore gradual release of glucose. Porridge is ideal for its soluble fibre content which encourages a healthy bowel movement and keeps you fuller, longer. In a rush in the morning? Try these yummy overnight oats recipes! Other forms of soluble fibre include psyllium, an ingredient we use in Digesta: Cleanse, Digesta: Protect and Vitae Diem.
3. Reduce stress
When you’re stressed, cortisol rises. Cortisol is a hormone which has the ability to raise blood sugar levels and decrease sensitivity of insulin. Whilst it is normal for this to happen, it can have a damaging effect if cortisol levels remain high for prolonged periods of time. For this reason, it’s important to keep on top of stress; easily said than done right?! This is why taking time throughout the day for meditation to be mindful, breathe and relax is so important. This can tie into step 5 with yoga as this relaxation method may reduce cortisol.
Insulin plays a role in the metabolism of fats and proteins as well. Although protein can eventually turn into glucose from the liver, it barely enters the blood stream so levels aren’t effected. Consuming protein can increase satiety and reduce sugar cravings.
Exercise encourages the muscles to use up glucose in the blood. When you have blood glucose fluctuations, low mood and energy can be a symptom. The action of stress on your muscles actually produces energy within the cells as well as the production and release of serotonin. Keeping active is key to improving your mood, stress management and weight control. Exercise like walking, cycling and yoga are great ways to achieve this. If hypoglycaemia is a risk for you, check your blood sugar levels before after and during exercise and speak to a GP if necessary.
Chromium is an essential mineral that may play a role in the action of insulin and its effects on carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Chromium works closely with insulin in assisting the uptake of glucose into cells. Without chromium, insulin’s action is blocked and glucose levels are elevated. Chromium increases the binding of insulin to cells and therefore increases insulin receptors. Supplementation of chromium has a multitude of benefits including the ability to lower total cholesterol and triglycerides and improve glucose tolerance.