How to Keep Blood Sugar Stable? Strategies for Stable Blood Glucose Levels

Heather Campbell
 min read

How to keep blood sugar stable is important to know as it is essential to avoid chronic conditions such as diabetes.

How to Keep Blood Sugar Stable? Strategies for Stable Blood Glucose LevelsFortunately, blood sugar spikes are easily avoidable.

As a general rule, our bodies use glucose for fuel, found in carbs and sugar. Too many carbs and sugars will cause rapid spikes of our blood sugar levels. Checking the glycemic load of a particular food can help us avoid these spikes.

Excessive snacking and too much sugar will upset our best efforts to keep blood sugar stable.

Below you will read how come your blood sugar spikes and how to avoid it in practice and keep your blood sugar stable instead.

How to keep blood sugar stable: Introduction

Our bodies use glucose for fuel, found in carbohydrates and sugar.

Unfortunately, we really eat way too much of this these days. The excess glucose is converted into triglycerides (also known as fat).

This fat settles in our body and also in our liver.

In any case, just because we need glucose doesn’t mean we should always eat it. In fact, our bodies make their own glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.

Below are some interesting insights about the digestion of glucose, carbohydrates, and sugar and how fast digestion can spike your blood sugar.

We also dwell on some tips and advice for avoiding and smoothing out peaks and valleys in blood sugar as much as possible.

Digestion of carbohydrates

The digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth because our saliva contains an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates.

Saliva and the small intestine

Our stomach has no enzymes that can do anything with carbohydrates. Thus, only in the small intestine does the digestion of carbohydrates continue.

Starch and sugar are broken down in the small intestine into separate chunks: glucose, fructose, and galactose.

Those fragments are then absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall.

Good to know: Table sugar is broken down to glucose and fructose, and milk sugar is broken down to glucose and galactose.

Two types of carbohydrates

How quickly a chain of carbohydrates is broken up into smaller chunks depends on the type of carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates come in 2 flavors:

  • Amylopectin
  • Amylose

Amylopectin is a carbohydrate with a fan structure and multiple easily accessible branches.

The enzymes that are supposed to break down amylopectin can get to it easily, causing it to be broken down faster in the body into glucose.

Amylose is a carbohydrate with long chains that are tightly bound together. It is more difficult for enzymes to get to it properly, and consequently, amylose is broken down more slowly.

Amylose versus amylopectin

It is more beneficial to eat those with more amylose when you eat carbohydrates.

Because amylose breaks down more slowly, it ultimately causes a lower insulin response (keeping your blood sugar more stable).

Effect of fertilizer on carbohydrates and your health

Wheat bread contains amylose and amylopectin.

The forced rapid growth of wheat by fertilizer causes its amylose content to be low and its amylopectin content to be high.

This speeds up the breakdown process and increases the glucose in your blood.

So you see that all kinds of processing affect the quality of your food. So even applying fertilizer to crops has an effect on your health.

This means that the way a carbohydrate is embedded in a food (scientists call it the product matrix) affects digestion and absorption rate in the body.

Effect of carbohydrate structure on glucose release

The division into individual glucose molecules of white bread is relatively rapid. This is because the structure of white bread, with more amylopectin, decays very quickly in contact with intestinal juices.

This then creates many small particles with a large digestive surface area collectively, allowing the digestion of the starch to proceed very quickly.

Effect of the cooking method on glucose release

On the other hand, spaghetti has relatively more amylose with an elastic structure that remains well intact and resilient even in an aqueous environment.

Our digestive enzymes can then only do their job properly on the outside of the spaghetti string.

Therefore, digestion is much slower if you cook the spaghetti “al dente” (a little firmer).

Carbohydrates can vary enormously among themselves. So how quickly glucose is released from the carbohydrate is also determined by its structure and the method of cooking it.

Resistant starch (indigestible carbohydrates)

There are also carbohydrates or starches that our bodies cannot digest because they lack the necessary enzymes in our intestines.

This type of carbohydrate is called resistant starch (because it is starch that is resistant to breakdown).

They are often fibers so undigested they leave the intestine again, but fortunately, we eat them for a reason!

Our gut bacteria are very happy with it, and it is, in fact, food for our gut bacteria.

Related: Why Is It Important to Have a Diverse Microbiome? Threats and Opportunities for Our Gut

In the process, the gut bacteria produce essential vitamins such as folate and vitamin K3 and healthy fats such as butyric acid.

Good to know: We also protect our intestinal wall by eating resistant starch. So eating resistant starch could also potentially improve intestinal wall diseases such as constipation, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis.

This type of indigestible carbohydrate is absolutely not absorbed and has no negative effect on your blood sugar. So you can also eat it as part of a ketogenic diet.

It also doesn’t count against your total carbohydrate intake. For example, it is found in unripe bananas, vegetables, cold cooked potatoes, some grains, and legumes.

In other words, do you love a delicious boiled potato every now and then and have diabetes? Then eat your boiled potatoes cold!

This is because it contains resistant starch, which gives rise to lower glucose levels and ensures more stable blood sugar levels.

Do we need starch or sugar?

The critical question is, do we actually need starch or sugar to function?

After all, our bodies need glucose for fuel, don’t they? Yes, that’s right, but the human body can also make its own glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis:

Production of glucose by the human body

What is gluconeogenesis?

Gluconeogenesis is how the body makes its own glucose.

The name for this term comes from the following 3 words:

  • Gluco is derived from glucose
  • Neo stands for new
  • Genesis means creation

Yes, your body can make its own glucose.

This glucose is vital for combustion, but this substance does not always have to come from our diet.

How is glucose produced by the body?

The body’s glucose production takes place primarily in the liver and kidneys.

But how exactly? And what raw materials are used for this?

Are other carbohydrates used for it? No, no other carbohydrates are used for it. Glucose is made by our bodies from proteins and fats.

Glucose can also be made from lactate (this is the end product that remains in our muscles after heavy exercise that causes acidification).

So the human body is ingenious and has devised this escape mechanism based on substances already present (new substances are not required for this).

The process of gluconeogenesis is essential for our body and, for example, for our brain.

Because even in the face of considerable deficiency, our brains continue to get at least 30% of their energy from glucose. And then, of course, gluconeogenesis is particularly useful.

This process is triggered, for example, in the middle of the night when we don’t eat anything, during a very heavy physical effort, or after a day of fasting.

Fat-burning mode versus sugar-burning mode

Apart from burning glucose for energy, we also have our fat. Fat burning also works very well, at least if we give it a chance.

The problem, however, is that we continually live and eat in a state of luxury and abundance. So we go from our breakfast to a sugared cookie, topped off with a cappuccino or frappuccino.

Then we enjoy lunch. With any luck, this is a lunch with fresh vegetables like a salad. Possibly supplemented by a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a soup, etc.

And then in the evening, after dinner, we’ll have a beer or wine and snack on some chocolate, popcorn, potato chips, or nuts.

That poor fatty tissue just doesn’t get a chance to burn. All it’s doing is just storing more and more fat.

What is essential for putting our cells into fat-burning mode is that the sugar-burning mode must be off.

The moment we constantly offer sugar to the energy factories of our cells, we forfeit them from burning fat.

And it is only when the sugar and insulin levels in our bloodstream are lower that we switch to fat-burning mode.

But those insulin levels really get low when there is a long time between our meals. And this doesn’t work with lots of snacks.

Snacking or constantly snacking also means there is no time for our small intestine’s cleansing action.

However, this is essential for healthy digestion.

So, to conclude, we need to get rid of the snacks and sugar in our diet!

Glycemic load

In the early 1980s, Dr. Jenkins from Canada came up with the idea of the glycemic index.

The idea of the index was to be able to provide thoughtful advice on the best nutrition for patients with diabetes.

All nutrients were given a value that depended on the blood sugar spike they produced. He did not include proteins and fats in his method under the assumption that they did not produce a sugar increase.

Pure glucose was given a rating of 100 (this provides the highest and fastest sugar spike in our blood).

Later, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health adapted Jenkins’ system according to portion size (because 100 grams of melon is a little different than 100 grams of glucose).

They called this modified system the glycemic load. This glycemic load is a much better measure than the glycemic index because the system takes portion size into account.

The higher the glycemic load, the higher and the faster the sugar peaks in your blood and the higher the insulin spike.

The sugar spike given by a particular food depends not only on the amount of carbohydrate in it, but also on what type of carbohydrate (amylose or amylopectin), and how processed the food is.

The more processed our food is, the less fiber it contains and the faster glucose can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

In other words, high-fiber foods thus inhibit rapid glucose absorption.

For example, ready-to-go oat flakes have a much higher glycemic load than unprocessed coarse oat flakes.

So the glycemic load is determined by the type of carbohydrate and how it is packaged.

With high and rapid glucose uptake by your blood, insulin production will also increase more rapidly.

Insulin then causes the excess sugars to be caught away. The sugars are converted to triglycerides stored in the fatty tissue.

So one consequence of high insulin production is greater fat storage, which is definitely not good news for people who actually want to lose weight.

In other words, the glycemic load estimates how fast blood sugar rises after eating carbohydrates and takes into account portion size.

A slow digestion of carbohydrates gives a more gradual release of glucose to the blood. Blood sugar levels will rise a bit but not spike.

On the other hand, rapid digestion will actually cause blood sugar to spike.

How to keep blood sugar stable: Conclusion

Glycemic load is a much better measure than glycemic index because this concept takes portion size into account.

Yet, the glycemic load of a particular food can vary. For example, the glycemic load of a vegetable may differ according to whether the vegetable is eaten cooked, raw, or stir-fried.

Often you don’t eat a potato or vegetables alone. Thus, the other dish components also affect absorption and glycemic load.

The variation in gut flora affects the digestion of your meal. This means that a particular sandwich will be digested faster in one person and produce fast sugar spikes than in another person in whom this digestion process is much slower.

Keeping our blood sugar levels stable without peaks and valleys is essential. In fact, lots of fast carbohydrates and sugars cause too many spikes.

The glycemic index, but even better, the glycemic load, gives a measure to food other than the number of calories.

It shows how quickly and high our blood sugar can rise after eating that product.

One way to get a stable sugar level is not eating any carbohydrates. Or to eat only carbohydrates packed with lots of fiber.

How do you recognize these foods? By examining the glycemic load.

RelatedHow to Live a Healthy Lifestyle? 17 Practical Tips to Live a Healthier Life

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More