Blood sugar (glucose) is the body’s main source of energy. Muscles need it for movement. The heart needs it to pump blood. The brain needs in order to think and process information. But when blood glucose levels go to high a host of health problems can arise.
The trouble with too much sugar in the blood is that is tends to get stuck to other things. This process is called glycation and its products are called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). AGEs have been implicated in a variety of diseases. They promote inflammation and oxidation. It is easy to measure the level of glycation that is happening in the body by testing a specific AGE, glycosylated hemoglobin or HA1C.
Another problem with elevated blood glucose is that it causes an elevation of insulin. Insulin is the one hormone in the body that lowers blood sugar. It does this by increasing the uptake of glucose into cells. For example if insulin binds to a muscle cell it will cause that cell to absorb more glucose from the blood. This is insulin’s primary role. However insulin has secondary roles of increasing fat stores in the body and increasing the production of cholesterol by the liver. This can lead to obesity and elevated cholesterol.
In order to prevent many chronic diseases it is important to control blood sugar and try to keep it the ideal range. In this range there is plenty of sugar available to run all of the body’s processes. But it is not high enough to cause excess glycation or elevated insulin.
Strategies for balancing blood sugar through diet, exercise, supplements will be discussed in upcoming blog posts. As always, there will be lots of delicious recipes included!