Winter is here and with dark, cold days upon us, and the festive season around the corner, it’s a time of year our bodies get pushed to the limit with stress and we give in to our sugar cravings sending us on that blood sugar roller-coaster and vicious cycle of wanting more. Sugar has been the latest in a whole host of food enemies from fat to carbohydrates, and most will agree that sugar, particularly in its refined processed form, is not the most beneficial food for health. It pops up in everything from cereals to crisps and sauces, it’s a cheap ingredient that manufacturers can use to make food tastier and leave us wanting more of it.
- Sugar is addictive. It releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system. Studies have shown it to be more addictive than some narcotics.
- Consuming refined sugar depletes the body of B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency causes symptoms like heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration, indigestion, and cravings for sugar.
- Sugar makes the digestive system acidic, which leaches vitamins and minerals from the body, particularly calcium from bones and teeth. It also depletes potassium and magnesium, which are both essential for cardiac health.
- Sugar affects blood flow and can speed up ageing, with increased wrinkles and dry skin.
Our blood sugar levels naturally rise and fall throughout the day, though we tend to function best within a narrow range. We can regulate our blood sugar levels through exercise and a balanced diet to reduce the risk of later health issues caused by chronically elevated levels. When we eat, carbohydrates break down into sugar and enter the bloodstream as glucose, insulin acts as a regulator to help move this into the cells or storage for later. Without an adequate amount of insulin, people experience high blood sugar, and over time chronic high blood glucose levels increase the risk of health conditions such as Diabetes and eventually the pancreas just get overworked and stops producing insulin properly.
Manage your blood sugar
Food choices, exercise and stress management are vital for daily blood sugar control, especially for diabetics. Protein, healthy fats, and spices like cinnamon have been shown to aid blood glucose management, so it’s important to include these throughout the day. Mushroom supplements have also been shown to be excellent additions for helping to manage blood sugar. Adding mushrooms to your diet can be a great way to increase nutrition as they provide a range of health benefits, they are low calorie but nutrient-dense, and low in carbohydrates meaning they have no significant effect on blood sugar levels so can fit into the diabetic-friendly diet.
Many studies have shown the benefits of mushrooms for blood sugar management. A recent study found that consuming white button mushrooms can modify the gut microbiome leading to improved glucose regulation which has implications for metabolic diseases. Another study shower portabello mushrooms have a blood sugar-stabilizing benefit. Beta-Glucans a compound in mushrooms are a soluble dietary fibre that has been shown to aid blood sugar regulation.
Medicinal mushrooms also show many benefits for blood sugar control. One study found 95% of patients showed improvements in blood sugar control using 3g of Cordyceps supplement a day. Cordyceps powder is also a traditional kidney tonic, and in diabetes, the kidneys are one of the key sites of damage from high blood sugar levels. Reishi mushroom powder and Lions Mane powder have also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and bring down high levels of insulin. Maitake has also been shown to improve blood sugar regulation, lowering blood glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Maitake also contains a compound called trehalose which has been shown to inhibit alpha-glucosidase leading to less glucose being absorbed.
Sugar is the current health enemy, and for good reason. In moderation a little bit is fine, but when our diets are based around processed refined sugars, it causes an inflammatory cascade, and sends us on a blood sugar roller-coaster that can have long term health implications. Make some small changes to your diet and lifestyle to try and reduce sugar consumption and increase activity, and add in mushroom supplements, spices and protein that helps to balance those blood sugar levels, keeping your energy stable through the day and helping you on the road to health and well-being.