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The importance of Blood Sugar Balance

The importance of Blood Sugar Balance

Blood sugar management: Category information

Teen’s have unique nutritional needs. After all, not only do they need energy for school, sports and social activities, but they also need enough energy and nutrients to grow and develop properly. At Bioteen, we’ve placed nutrition at the cornerstone of our range to meet these needs.

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This being said, even though nutrition is our cornerstone, we also believe in supporting your teen as a whole and as such also strive to support your teen when it comes to healthy forms of movement, rest, support and self.

Read about Bioteen’s 5 Pillars of Wellness here.

When life gets busy, things are not always in balance. This imbalance, which may look like skipped meals or wrong food choices, can lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels and most of us are all too familiar with how that feels. Hungry, tired and irritable. When you feel this way, it’s difficult to be productive and get all the things done that need to get done. This goes for teen’s too.

Blood sugar management basics

Before we can talk about the benefits of blood sugar management, let’s discuss some fundamental principles. The first thing to understand is that your blood sugar levels are controlled by a variety of hormonal feedback mechanisms mostly involving insulin (which drives glucose into the cells) and glucagon (which tells the liver to release glucose) (1). These hormones run a tight ship maintaining blood sugar levels between 4-8 mmol/L up to 96% of the time in most healthy people with the general difference between highs and lows not being very much (2). This means that it’s incorrect to say that a healthy person has hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). However, even though blood sugar levels may not fall into the abnormal ranges, when they drop below their normal level you may still experience some low blood sugar symptoms.

Read about our blood sugar management supplement here.

Let’s see how these can affect your teen.

How controlling blood sugar levels means more energy

When you eat a carbohydrate containing food, it gets broken down into it’s smallest component, glucose, which are then absorbed in the small intestine. Once absorbed, glucose is then transported all around the body by your blood. When you eat foods that are a concentrated source of carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels will go higher than if you eat foods that are less concentrated. There are many other factors that will influence how high your blood sugar level goes, for example by adding fibre, fat or protein to your meal, you can slow down the glucose absorption and lower the blood sugar response.

(3)

Ideally you want to have stable blood sugar levels without too many dramatic spikes or dips. Even though a healthy body will always correct these spikes and dips (through using insulin or glucagon), having these ups and downs can sap your energy levels. Having enough energy is a very important part of being able to live life to the fullest.

Balanced blood sugar means less hunger and cravings

When the diet is made up mainly of concentrated sources of carbohydrates (meaning there are constant spikes), the body is forced to secrete bursts of insulin to keep these spikes under control. These bursts often lower blood sugar levels quite quickly and may inadvertently cause blood sugar levels to go below the norm. When this happens, your body may signal to you that it is hungry (in order to restore blood sugar levels back to their normal levels). Unfortunately this hunger isn’t usually for a salad with quinoa and black beans, it’s usually for something sugary. This happens because your body knows what kind of foods will give it that quick boost. The problem here is that this restarts the vicious cycle of high’s and low’s and you end up at square one. Avoiding this is especially important for teen’s, because their brain typically use up to 120g of glucose per day (which is about 30% higher than the amount an adult needs) (4) meaning that they may be uniquly affected by the negative impacts of blood sugar dips (5).

When blood sugar levels are more balanced, your teen’s will also feel fuller for longer and will have less sweet food cravings. This means that they are way more likely to choose healthful, nutrient dense options, over sugary counterparts. This potentially means that balanced blood sugar levels leads to a diet that contains more beneficial nutrients which means fewer clinical and subclinical deficiencies and their related symptoms (which could affect all areas of a teens life)!

Food and mood

Food and mood are closely linked. When blood sugar levels dip, feelings of hunger and irritability (aka being hangry) are quick to set in. This happens because hormones like cortisol (our stress hormone) and epinephrine (which is your fight or flight hormone) are released in response to blood sugar levels reaching below normal. These can have huge impacts on mood as well as levels of concentration and memory (6). In general, it’s not unusual for teen’s to struggle with their moods and emotions anyways (due to the way their brains are busy developing), and so, low blood sugar levels add fuel to the fire. These feelings can also cause your teen to seek out comfort foods, and while this isn’t bad in small amounts, using food as a coping mechanism is another vicious cycle we need to avoid (7).

Does your teen suffer from anxiety? Learn more about our mood support supplement, Relaxify here.

Here are some common lower blood sugar symptoms to look out for:

  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness

If your teen complains about feeling this way, it is very possible that all they need is a snack to bring their blood sugar levels back up to their normal range.

The bottom line

Blood sugar management isn’t something only diabetic people need to worry about. Yes, the body can keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges, but spikes and dips within these ranges can make your teen feel tired, hungry, and irritable. When anyone feels this way, it’s difficult to manage everything that may be on their plate. The right kinds of foods, supplements and activities are the cornerstone of blood sugar management and choosing the right kinds is the first step to balancing out blood sugar levels and managing its related symptoms.

References

  1. Rahman M, Hossain K, Das S, Kundu S, Adegoke E, Rahman M et al. Role of Insulin in Health and Disease: An Update. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021;22(12):6403.
  2. Peyser T, Balo A, Buckingham B, Hirsch I, Garcia A. Glycemic Variability Percentage: A Novel Method for Assessing Glycemic Variability from Continuous Glucose Monitor Data. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. 2018;20(1):6-16.
  3. Brand-Miller, Jennie & Mcmillan, Joanna & Steinbeck, Kate & Caterson, Ian. Carbohydrates – The good, the bad and the wholegrain. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition. 2008;17(1): 16-9.
  4. Kuzawa C, Chugani H, Grossman L, Lipovich L, Muzik O, Hof P et al. Metabolic costs and evolutionary implications of human brain development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2014;111(36):13010-13015.
  5. Young H, Benton D. The effect of using isomaltulose (Palatinose™) to modulate the glycaemic properties of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children. European Journal of Nutrition. 2014;54(6):1013-1020.
  6. Cooper SB, et al. Breakfast glycaemic index and cognitive function in adolescent school children. Br J Nutr. 2012; 107:1823– 1832.
  7. Tsenkova V, Boylan J, Ryff C. Stress eating and health. Findings from MIDUS, a national study of US adults. Appetite. 2013;69:151-155.

 

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