Balancing blood sugar: the key to weight loss

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NATURAL JOURNEY BY AMY PUNKE

Most of us have heard a diabetic say, "I need to check my sugars" or, "I feel hypoglycemic," but what does this all mean and what does it have to do with weight loss?

Everything in nature strives to remain in a balanced state. In medicine, the tendency to maintain balance is called homeostasis, which is Greek for "similar and standing still." This term describes the body's need to maintain a relatively constant internal environment. This means, to ensure health, every cell, organ and system in the body relies on a stable environment to function.

One of the best ways to lose weight and to maintain that weight is to create a state of homeostasis in the body. The key to this is stabilizing blood sugar, or keeping a relatively constant level of sugar (also known as glucose) in your bloodstream.

One’s blood sugar level is the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and that is controlled by what you are eating and drinking at the time. Often, when we get cravings for something sweet, it is our body's way of telling us that our blood sugar is too low. The fastest way to get our blood sugar up is to eat something high in sugar, like a chocolate bar or a can of pop. This spikes our blood sugar very quickly. Our body, however, tries to reach a state of balance, causing our blood sugar to bottom out. If this behaviour is repeated it creates a vicious cycle of poor blood sugar control, resulting in such things as inflammation, weight gain and eventually chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

According to Dr. Oz, the problem is that, "Most people’s blood sugar is not properly balanced. If you’re getting too much glucose, it leads to high blood-sugar levels, which your body can’t break down and stores as fat. Ironically, not getting enough sugar can also lead to putting on extra pounds! Eating too little glucose can lead to a low blood sugar level, causing your body to go into ‘starvation mode’ where it burns your lean muscle instead of the fat – a double whammy to your system and your diet." 

The epitome of this, in my opinion, is your typical weight loss program. These programs contradict everything the body is trying to achieve – a state of homeostasis. The fact is, you cannot "force" your body into anything, especially rapid weight loss. If you do, your body will resist and push in the opposite direction in an attempt to reach a state of balance, often seen as weight gain (with dieters ending up heavier than when they started the weight loss program).

When a new patient comes to see me about weight loss, insomnia or even anxiety, the first thing we look at is stabilizing their blood sugar. Here are my top five recommendations:

1) Eat small, frequent snacks. You want to balance your sugar or "carb" intake with an adequate source of good fats and protein. Try Greek yogurt for protein, a handful of raw sunflower seeds or almonds for good fat, and an apple for carbs.

2) Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to your breakfast. Not only does it taste great but research has shown that cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar levels and significantly decreases triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

3) Eats foods rich in chromium. Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar and improves the action of insulin in the body. Sources include mushrooms, eggs, whole grains and brewer's yeast.

4) Meditate for 10 minutes per day. Mediation has been shown to decrease your stress hormone, cortisol, thus stabilizing blood sugar, decreasing blood pressure and improving mood.

5) See a registered holistic nutritionist. They will help customize your diet according to your individual needs. Weight loss programs appeal to the masses, not individuals. A holistic nutritionist looks at your needs and helps you implement healthy dietary changes that will work for you and your lifestyle.

 

Dr. Amy Punké, ND, has a naturopathic practice at Whole Self Wellness Centre, 106 Stellarton Rd., New Glasgow (above Healthy Selection). Visit www.dramypunke.com or call 902-755-1210. 

Organizations: Whole Self Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Stellarton, New Glasgow

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