Very few people understand the need for healthy levels of blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. Although awareness of this problem is low, approximately 16 per cent of Australians suffer from high blood sugar levels – many without realising their condition.
High blood sugar levels doesn’t necessarily mean full-blown type 2 diabetes, but it is enough to put someone in a pre-diabetic state. Too much blood sugar can harm your arteries, leading to heart disease and potentially diabetes. But what affects blood sugar? And how can you control it?
Diet is one factor, but it is not the only one. Having a sedentary lifestyle means that your muscles never get the chance to burn up the glucose you consume, leaving too much floating around in your blood, and obesity can make it harder for your body’s insulin to deal with blood sugar levels.
Eating sugary foods definitely contributes to your blood sugar levels and, as previously stated, if you eat too much sugar and start to put on weight it can affect the performance of your insulin (the hormone which moderates blood sugar).So what should you eat, and what should you avoid?
Fruit has high levels of a sugar called ‘fructose’, but because fruit is also high in fibre and vitamins, you don’t need to cut it out – just consume fruit in moderation. As with all things, too much fruit can stack on the calories as easily as too much chocolate or cake.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, can contribute to high blood sugar levels. Opting for slow-burning, low GI carbohydrates, such as legumes and wholegrains, is a much healthier option. Sugar itself is the most obvious culprit, but targeting diet alone isn’t enough.
As a society we are sitting for more hours of the day than ever before, and many scientists believe that this lifestyle change is to blame for the rise in diabetes and high blood sugar in the population.
The first change to make is to get your blood sugar levels tested. To do this you simply need to organise a blood test through your doctor, the cost of which should be covered by Medicare. Having high blood sugar is a warning, but you will still have time to change your lifestyle before it is too late and you are stuck with diabetes. Decrease the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates you consume, and replace them with wholegrains and veggetables. If you’re not doing any exercise, add a walk into your daily routine – an easy way to do this is to park further away from work, or get off the bus one stop earlier, and walk the rest of the way to your destination.