Eating these 3 foods can stabilise blood sugar levels, experts say

Issues with blood sugar can lead to inflammation and type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)
Issues with blood sugar can lead to inflammation and type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)

Blood sugar or glucose is the term for the sugar found in your blood – but it’s received a bit of a bad reputation recently as people attempt to prevent ‘blood sugar spikes’.

However, while most of these ‘spikes’ are completely normal, they can become an issue depending on how high they rise and how long they last.

“Blood glucose levels rise and fall when you eat a meal containing carbohydrates and sugars, such as white pasta, rice and bread, biscuits, sweets, cakes, alcoholic drinks, and dried fruits,” Lucia Stansbie, registered nutritional therapist, tells Yahoo UK.

“Rises are completely normal, but how high it rises and how long it stays high depends on the quality of the carbohydrates as well as the quantity. Sharp spikes could lead to hyperglycaemic episodes followed by sharp drops called hypoglycaemic episodes.”

It’s these sharp spikes that are the ones that should be avoided, registered associate nutritionist for ARVRA wellness, Eli Brecher, says.

So, how can you avoid these sharp spikes through food intake, and what are some signs that you may have a problem with blood sugar? Read on to find out.

“Blood glucose, or blood sugar, is the main sugar found in your blood. It’s the body’s main source of energy,” Brecher explains.

“Blood glucose levels naturally increase in response to food, and the body releases insulin to bring the level back down to normal. This happens as a result of the body breaking down carbohydrates, and it is a totally normal response that happens in healthy individuals.”

Eating carbohydrates without protein or fats can lead to blood sugar spikes. (Getty Images)

The problem occurs, Brecher says, when these blood glucose spikes are particularly large and are followed by a steep crash shortly after.

“Continued spikes and falls in blood glucose, sometimes referred to as the ‘blood sugar roller coaster’ can make you feel sluggish, causing fatigue, mood swings, headaches, hormonal disruption, food cravings and sleep disturbances,” she adds.

“Longer term, this contributes to inflammation in the body and can lead to conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”

Some signs you may be facing issues with blood sugar include:

  • Frequent or intense hunger, often linked to mood changes and feeling light headed

  • Feeling ‘hangry’

  • Increased anxiety, irritability and brain fog

  • Fatigue, energy fluctuations and the mid-afternoon slump

  • Struggle to lose weight, particularly around the middle

  • Frequent urination

  • Constant thirst

If you do notice any of these symptoms, it could be worth making an appointment with your GP to discuss a plan.

Blood sugar or glucose spikes are caused by carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrient groups along with proteins and fats.

So, Brecher says the key to stabilising blood sugars is to include these other two macronutrient groups in your meals along with fibre too.

Spicy Chicken Nourish Bowl - A filling and nutritious warm salad with grilled chicken, spicy chickpeas, tomato and arugula on white tile background with Cristmas decor. Balanced food. Selective focus
Adding protein to your meals can help prevent blood sugar spikes. (Getty Images)

“When building a meal, think about combining a balance of protein and healthy fats, with a small to medium portion of carbohydrates, while avoiding carbohydrate being the centrepiece of the meal, in order to help support blood glucose response,” she explains.

Fibre, also known as roughage, is an important food group in reducing blood sugar spikes and reducing consumption of sugar, another carbohydrate.

“Consider swapping white refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and rice, for their whole grain counterpart, such as brown bread, wholewheat pasta and brown or black rice,” Brecher says.

“As well as whole grains, you can find fibre in vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.”

Proteins can help to stabilise blood sugars as these foods break down into glucose more slowly than carbohydrates, which can prevent any spiking.

Brecher recommends including proteins such as fish, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas and nuts in your diet.

“For healthy fats, go for oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or anchovies, as well as avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts and nut butters,” Brecher adds.

“When choosing a snack, the same rules apply – combine protein, fats and fibre. Some blood sugar-friendly snack ideas include apple slices with almond butter, hummus with carrot sticks, a handful of walnuts with two squares of dark chocolate (75%+ cocoa), a hard-boiled egg with half an avocado, or plain full-fat Greek yoghurt with berries.”