What You Need to Know: Glucose & Its Effect on Your Body

Unless you have been instructed by a practitioner to do so, managing blood glucose is not something that many of us think much about. But it just so happens that even if your blood test results come back impeccable, learning the effects that foods have on your body in terms of sugar (glucose) is in your best interest for your health. You see, those strong food cravings you experience during the day — feeling hungry all the time or even lacking energy during the day — can all be related to blood glucose concerns.

When we eat, our bodies have an efficient way of breaking down our foods in the gastrointestinal tract. Enzymes work hard and break down big particles into significantly smaller ones that can get easily absorbed into the bloodstream, and the nutrients can reach areas where they are needed. In this process, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, like glucose. Glucose is an extremely important source of energy for the body, which is why it has its own transportation mechanism in the body. This happens through a hormone called insulin. We can think of insulin as a ferry that transports glucose in the blood where it needs to go, so we can use it as energy. Excess glucose can also be stored in the liver and our muscles “in case of emergency.”

But what I want to focus on here is what happens in the body when you eat refined foods versus foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. When we start off our day with a delicious warm cinnamon roll (although I’m the first to say that sounds truly delightful), we set our bodies up for disaster. This is a perfect example of a food that is rich in refined flour and sugar. What happens here is our bodies break down the cinnamon roll fairly quickly, and all that glucose goes right into our bloodstream at once. You might feel alright, and, dare I say, even slightly hyper from the glucose or sugar rush. The problem is with what happens shortly after: Your body works extra hard to remove the excess glucose, and the spike is followed by the crash. When this happens, not only are you likely to feel tired, but your body is searching for ways to stabilize your glucose levels. During this phase, you’ll find yourself craving something sweet and decadent, rich in simple carbs for easy and fast energy. This, in turn, gets you into a vicious cycle, and unstable glucose levels in the blood can be quite harmful to our health in the long run.

Now, if you include a balance in every meal, the scenario is quite different. By balance, I mean making sure you have a healthy source of protein and fat, as well as complex carbs (rich in fiber). Your body breaks down these nutrients in a slower manner, and therefore the amount of glucose that goes into the bloodstream is smaller and more consistent. It’s a great way to avoid the sugar spike and crash, helping you maintain steady energy levels. An example of a balanced meal would mean ditching that cinnamon roll and starting your day with an avocado and egg on whole grain toast. This choice contains a healthy source of fat, protein, and fiber.

Need some other breakfast ideas?

3 Ingredient Pancake (find recipe here)



Avocado Stuffed Chickpea Salad (find recipe here)



Pizza Quinoa Bites (find recipe here)



Vegan Berry Cobbler (find recipe here)