Your blood glucose level: an essential indicator of health, and how you can influence it
Table of Contents
What you will learn about the health indicator ‘blood glucose’
- Why the health indicator ‘blood glucose’ is relevant for everyone
- Your body’s way of using and regulating blood glucose concentrations. And how the insulin and glucagon hormones are responsible for the fluctuation between glucose entering and leaving the bloodstream.
- How excess blood glucose can disturb that balanced interaction between insulin and glucagon and how this is connected to insulin resistance and weight gain.
- How you can influence your blood glucose levels by changing some of the ordinary things you do every day.
Do you consider yourself healthy but are often tired, moody, or unable to concentrate? Do you get intense cravings and then grab a cereal bar, instantly feeling a lot better right after? This might be a sign of a mild blood glucose imbalance. While these symptoms might seem trivial, a disrupted blood glucose level for an extended time can have serious health consequences.
Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, comes from the food you eat and is your body’s energy fuel. In a healthy individual, the amount of glucose present in the bloodstream ebbs and flows depending on what you eat. It enters the bloodstream and then leaves it to get into your cells and give them energy. This is the sign of a healthy metabolism, meaning the smooth functioning of all the chemical reactions that happen in your body to transform food into energy. However, problems arise when your cells aren’t absorbing the glucose, resulting in higher blood levels. This sets the stage for serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, decreased kidney function or nerve damage .
Thankfully, your lifestyle plays a significant role in balancing blood glucose levels. This is what we’re going to cover in this post.
Your body’s way of using and regulating blood sugar concentrations
Like we said, your body depends on sugar as its primary source of energy. It provides all your 70 trillion cells with the necessary energy to grow, reproduce, repair, preserve their structures and respond to their environment. That energy is used not just when you’re doing heavy labour but also to do things like sleep and think. In fact, your brain needs 60% of all the energy used by your body!
Think of the fluctuation between glucose entering and leaving the bloodstream as two children on a seesaw. The seesaw moves up and down; none of the two children are stuck on one side for a very long time.
Two hormones, namely glucagon and insulin, are responsible for keeping that seesaw going. When blood glucose increases, insulin lowers it by stimulating the uptake of sugar in our cells, like a key that opens the cell door for glucose to step inside. When it gets too low, glucagon increases it mainly by promoting the breakdown of stored glucose in your liver. Indeed, after eating, your liver takes any excess glucose from the circulation and stores it as glycogen, to be used in times of necessity. This ensures all cells can function at all times, regardless of when you’re eating. Think of glycogen like money on a debit card, spent whenever needed.
How excess blood glucose leads to weight gain
Too much blood glucose for a long time can disturb that balanced seesaw action. Prolonged excess blood glucose levels make cells less able to absorb it, gradually responding less and less to insulin -the “key” isn’t opening their door anymore. This condition is called insulin resistance.
When this happens, blood glucose forms into a type of fat cell called triglycerides. Now your money isn’t only on a debit card, but also in a safety deposit and in a different, much more concentrated form of energy. The issue with high triglycerides is that they lead to weight gain and increased fat storage throughout the body and liver. They can also cause heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.
How can you influence your blood sugar levels?
We’ve looked at how our body is designed to deal with the fluctuating blood glucose levels and why it’s essential to keep them in check. The good news is that by changing some of the ordinary things you do every day- what you eat, how you sleep, how you deal with stress, your lifestyle!- you can help improve your metabolic health. Curious to know how? Read our blog post detailing exactly what you can do.
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