Over the past few weeks we had a look at the effect that blood sugar levels can have on the functioning of the brain.
I also drew attention to some of the best (and the worst!) ways to manage blood sugar levels.
This week’s article will conclude the ‘mini-series’ on blood sugar levels by summarising some of the key insights that were shared in the previous articles on this topic.
This will be done by highlighting the top ‘ADD/ADHD Blood Sugar steps’:
1. Be aware: It is very important that we continually remind ourselves of the fact that the brain is a major consumer of energy and that it is therefore also very sensitive to changes in the availability (or not) of glucose in the blood.
Oversupply will lead to the brain enacting ‘emergency measures’ to bring the levels back into line, while low blood sugar will almost inevitably lead to a reduction in brain function.
The role of impaired brain function in triggering the effects of ADD/ADHD has been established by many different studies.
Those dealing with these effects should therefore be very aware of anything that could lead to the brain struggling to function at optimum levels.
Blood sugar spikes and troughs obviously create ‘brain conditions’ that are far from ideal and should therefore be avoided as far as possible.
2. Be Proactive: Awareness without action will not get you very far in life. This is also true when it comes to being aware of the effects of blood sugar levels on brain function.
Your next step should therefore be to design your diet and lifestyle around strategies that will ensure balanced blood sugar levels. Some of the most important of these are:
• Focus on Low-GI Foods: Foods with low values on the Glycemic Index (GI) release energy in slow and sustained ways (when compared to those that are higher up on the scale).
These foods are therefore your best insurance policy against the ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’.
Keeping a list of Low GI foods handy, and consulting it while planning your meals, can be one of the simplest, most effective, ways of changing your life for the better.
• Eat less food, more often: One of the most common causes of blood sugar troughs (with the resulting binge-spike cycle) is the attempt by many people to go for hours without eating anything.
This ‘strategy’ can be very counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs.
You should rather reduce the amount you eat during your main meals and then ‘compensate’ by eating healthy snacks at set points during the day.
• Identify, and deal with, the conditions behind binges: Most of us have a tendency to overeat during certain times and/or conditions.
Maybe it is when you watch a big game on television or if you go out to a favourite restaurant.
Making a mental map of these ‘danger points’ and putting a binge avoidance strategy in place before they occur can prove very effective as a means of staying off the rollercoaster in the first place.
Do not neglect protein: Protein can have a powerful stabilising effect when it comes to blood sugar levels.
It is therefore a very good idea to have some protein during breakfast as a means of starting your day on the right foot.
• Avoid sugary drinks: One of the biggest causes of blood sugar spikes is the prevalence of sugary soft drinks in modern society.
Many of these drinks contain ridiculous amounts of sugar, leading to inevitable blood sugar spikes in those who drink them.
It may be difficult at first, but resolving to avoid ‘liquid candy’ could prove very beneficial over the long run.
3. Be Careful: There are many strategies for managing blood sugar levels that will harm rather than help over the long run. You should, for example, do your best to avoid the following:
• Fad Diets: We are constantly inundated with new ‘secrets’ to long term dietary health. Some of these ‘secrets’ merely involve a restatement of fundamental principles and are therefore essentially harmless.
There are however other diets that move away from a balanced diet towards an overemphasis on a particular food group or type.
These diets may sometimes prove effective in the short run but will do nothing to improve your long term health prospects. Waiting for the next big thing will never be a substitute for getting the basics right!
• Sugar substitutes: The ‘diet industry’ would have us believe that artificial sweeteners is all that we need on our way to balanced blood sugar levels.
The fact is that these products have not been proven to lead to long term weight loss. Many of them also contain suspect chemicals and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
Getting off the blood sugar roller coaster should be one of your highest priorities if you are dealing with the effects of ADD/ADHD.
Following this three step process (Be Aware – Be Proactive – Be Careful) should go some way towards helping you to keep your feet firmly on the ground!