This is an excellent time to talk about the importance of having healthy blood sugar levels. Not only is this a very popular topic in the dieting world right now but it was 100 years ago this week (4th May 2021), that Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best began the experiments that would lead to the discovery of insulin — the hormone responsible for ensuring normal blood sugar levels.
What are blood sugar levels?
When we talk about ‘normal blood sugar’, this is the amount (only about a teaspoon) that is found in the blood after you have not eaten in a while. When you eat, most of the carbs from that meal are digested and metabolised and eventually turn up in the blood as glucose – a.k.a. ‘blood sugar’. Glucose is the form of sugar our bodies use for energy.
How are blood sugar levels measured?
If you eat too many carbs, like sugar or starch, or if you eat too many calories, you increase your chances of having high blood sugar and diabetes. There are various tests, like HbA1c that doctors use to diagnose the problem, and although an old-fashioned glucose tolerance test is still best, they’re pretty inconvenient and are therefore rarely used any more.
How can a meal affect blood sugar levels?
When you eat a meal your blood sugar levels increase. In healthy people, the high blood sugar that occurs after a meal is managed by the release of insulin, which signals cells to absorb it from the bloodstream. In diabetics, this process is impaired. In type-1 diabetes, very little insulin is produced and in type-2 diabetes, the cells ignore its signal to take up more sugar. These two diseases are actually quite different, but a common feature is the end result, that blood sugar levels get too high.
There are currently 400,000 type-1 diabetics in the UK and, prior to 100 years ago (with the discovery of insulin), they were expected to live only four years after diagnosis. Now they can live an almost normal life, potentially well into their 80’s and 90’s.
Type-2 diabetes is over ten times more prevalent in the UK than type-1 diabetes and, early in the course of their disease, type-2s usually produce plenty of insulin. However, their cells are so packed with sugar (stored as glycogen) that even this powerful hormone cannot tempt them to take up more. Eventually, because much of this excess sugar cannot be stored, it is converted to fat by the liver, resulting in excess body fat storage and multiple other problems.
Recent research (for which we provided a range of products from The 1:1 Diet) shows that this excess fat also gums up of the organ (the pancreas), which makes insulin. So, the type-2 diabetic not only has poorly-functioning insulin but eventually, less and less being produced, making high blood sugar a progressively worse problem.
Will blood sugar levels affect sleep?
Blood sugar levels can affect sleep, although everybody is different. Excess sugar causes damage to tissues all over the body, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. It also leads to excess thirst, trips to the toilet at night and interferes with sleep. For these and other reasons, many of the world’s most enlightened health experts consider maintaining healthy blood glucose a crucial element (maybe the most important element) of living a long, healthy life.
How can we avoid being a victim of all of this?
Well, a lower-carb or low-calorie diet can reduce the odds of getting high blood sugar and diabetes and can reverse the disease if it is strictly followed, leading to significant weight loss. We know this because the most influential studies on this topic were based upon our The 1:1 Diet products and Plan, which lead to rapid and substantial weight loss and reversal of both diabetes and pre-diabetes in multiple, gold-standard studies.
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