I?ve written a lot about the importance of good blood sugar (glucose) management over the years and it is still something I consider paramount to good health. Ensuring your blood glucose levels and insulin response are optimal is not simply important for prevention of type 2 diabetes. There are many other life-threatening conditions associated with poor blood sugar control largely due to the fact that having high blood sugar levels and lots of insulin in the system triggers inflammation. Disease, including cancer, is created / develops in an inflamed state, so avoiding inflammation is so, so imperative to maintaining good health and preventing disease progression.
While today?s blog is not about the inflammation per se, I will take this opportunity to remind you all of the utterly mind-blowing properties of turmeric ( see previous blog), or more specifically, one of the active ingredients in the this humble spice, curcumin. From supporting healthy cholesterol levels to supressing symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis to protection from cataracts and liver damage, curcumin has also been shown in scientific studies to offer many protective qualities to brain function and cancer protection.
Eating it isn?t going to provide you with enough of the active compounds, so a high quality supplement is the way to get enough in you to provide you with all of these and more preventative properties.
So, back to blood sugar. Using the glycemic index (GI) as a means to making good choices about foods that will prevent blood sugar instability is a good starting point. However, there are many factors that can also contribute to a foods impact on blood sugar. Adding vinegar (pref. raw apple cider vinegar) to your food can help lower the GI. Always having fat, fibre and protein in the presence of carbs also makes a huge difference. There?s also how you cook your carbs:
The big new buzz word in digestive health is resistant starch. With carbs / starches being so vilified by many, including me, due to the detrimental effect many carbs have on blood sugar, it nice to be able to talk about some good starches for a change.
Resistant starch is just that, resistant to your digestive enzymes meaning it is not broken down and absorbed, rather passes through the intestinal tract unchanged, keeping you feeling nice and full and when it reaches the large intestine it provides great fuel for the good bacteria to feed upon ? fab!
So where does this resistant starch come from? Well, nuts, seeds and legumes contain a little; or you can get it in to you in a fairly unpleasant way by eating green bananas i.e. so unripe that they feel chalky to eat and cause your mouth to go dry! Or, you can cook starch-rich foods like rice or new potatoes and allow to go cold, not just room temperature, properly fridge cold. The starch molecules change in the process of these foods cooling and the GI reduces because some of digestible carbohydrate that would have gone in to the blood stream causing elevated blood glucose, has now become resistant starch ; or you could enjoy some pasta!
Yes, I?ve said the P word. I would never normally recommend eating pasta. One, because it is a high gluten food ? gluten being a highly irritating, inflammatory and all-round nasty for many, especially those with inflammatory bowel issues and two, because pasta has a fairly high GI. However, if you are generally avoiding the wheat but are fancying a pasta hit, try this:
Buy some spelt or kamut pasta. These are ancient grains, still wheat, still gluten containing, but non-hybridised so lower in gluten than conventional (messed-around-with) wheat. Cook the pasta as normal except leave slightly under cooked. Let the pasta cool. Pop it in the fridge and then re-heat with your sauce when you?re ready to eat it. This process of cooling and reheating can reduce the impact on blood sugar by about 50% – that?s a huge improvement.
So I?m not suggesting you go pasta crazy. But if and when you do fancy some, by cooking ahead of time and re-heating, you are going to significantly decrease the detrimental impact on your blood sugar levels.