How to avoid blood sugar spikes

17 Apr 2019

We get a lot of questions from folks confused about what to eat after a diagnosis of high blood sugar. The confusion is not helped by the fact that traditional guidelines and new research often seem contradictory. Cutting down on sugar is the obvious standard advice but many of us do not realise that starches will affect blood sugar levels too. This is because the body digests starch (= carbohydrates) into the exact same sugar molecules as plain sugar, and refined starches in particular get broken down into sugars really quickly and can cause just as bad a blood sugar spike as something sugary.

For a quick example, let's look at breakfast cereal: Most brands contain added sugar, but even if choosing one without, the breakfast flakes/shapes as such are highly processed and full of refined starches that will quickly convert into sugars still causing a spike in blood sugar levels.

What to do then? Think wholegrains at all times, and less of it. To continue with the breakfast example, oats and other 'rolled' cereal flakes (e.g. muesli) are much 'slower' carbs than any kind of processed cereal, meaning the body needs to work harder to break these down into their constituent sugars so it gets released slowly. Nuts and seeds contain even less carbs (but are packed with micronutrients and healthy fats) and replacing some or all of the cereal in your breakfast bowl with these means even less sugar is released. Even better: choose eggs with mushrooms over cereal for breakfast. The infographic below makes it all quite graphic!

NHS doctor David Unwin has been successfully treating patients with a low carb diet for years (the NICE endorsed infographic image above is his too). On the back of a new cookbook he contributed to, even the mainstream press has picked up on the benefits of reducing carb intake not just sugar, and the concept is just beginning to find recognition by the NHS too.

For a better overview and lots of tips see the Diabetes.co.uk website.

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