How To Manage Blood Sugar Spikes

Mark Hurley | Nature's Medicine ❖

I ran an experiment years ago to determine the effects of multiple sources of sugar/carbs on my blood sugar levels. Here, I will explain what I learned in the process. To begin the experiment, I purchased a blood sugar monitoring device. To simplify matters, I kept all variables constant, except one. For instance, I wanted to gauge the effect of dietary fat on my blood sugar levels. For this case, I kept my supply of carbs and protein relatively constant while altering the fat content of my meals. By doing so, I determine which variables support blood sugar balance.

I did not want to vary my diet too considerably because it would be more difficult to gauge which aspects are contributing factors. I made the process as simple as possible by splitting my diet into two main categories: Isolated carbs and non isolated carbs. This allowed me to dictate the effects of macro-nutrient ratios on blood sugar levels.


Fat Dampens the Cycle

Dietary fat is a necessary macro-nutrient that our body needs to sustain itself. Without it, our brain would not receive the nourishment required to grow and develop. There is a reason Mother's Milk is so rich in fat, including vital fatty acids- DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and support a healthy circulatory system. The first few years of life are critical for development into adulthood.

Test #1

I started the test with a control meal after taking my fasting blood glucose reading in the morning. The control meal consisted of 1 banana. My pre and post glucose readings were as follows:

Pre: 92 mg/dL ⟿ Post (t = 0.25 hr): 144 mg/dL⟿ Post (t = 1 hr): 97 mg/dL

My blood sugar spiked considerably within 15 minutes. It then reverted back to baseline levels within a hour, which is typical for a small meal.

The following day, I had the experimental meal, which consisted of 1 banana, 1 tbsp raw honey, whole raw milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and turmeric. My pre and post glucose readings measured as follows:

Pre: 92 mg/dL ⟿ Post (t = 0.25 hr): 103 mg/dL⟿ Post (t = 1 hr): 86 mg/dL

My blood sugar levels were relatively stable. I added the cinnamon, turmeric, and nutmeg in attempt to negate a spike in blood sugar levels. Cinnamon increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors. Fat helps prevent a rise in liver enzymes after consuming fructose, and reduces the absorption rate of glucose. If sugar (fructose, glucose) is absorbed at a slower rate, then the liver is not burdened with so much processing.

Fructose has been shown to contribute heavily to fatty liver disease because the liver must work hard to convert the fructose to glucose for the body to utilize energy (glycogen). Next time you eat a meal heavy in carbohydrates, consider adding some healthy fat to minimize the burden on the liver.



Excess Protein Increases Blood Sugar Levels

There goes the saying…” The dose is the poison.”

It can be very tempting not to over indulge on a juicy steak. Eating animal protein takes considerably more energy to digest relative to vegetarian sources. That is not to say it is a bad idea to consume meat products. It should always be done in moderation and not too frequently.

Protein is very beneficial for healing damaged tissue, developing muscle mass, indirectly supporting fat loss, etc. Excess protein, however, damages the liver due to its nitrogenous properties. Ammonia (NH4) is a byproducts of protein metabolism, and is extremely toxic to the liver. Damaging the liver hampers glucose metabolism, resulting in the onset of metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

I conducted the following experiment by gradually increasing my protein consumption at night. Each meal consisted of lean beef with a few cups of white rice. I kept my carbohydrate portions consistent, however, I added more protein each day during the experimental phase. What I noted is that my blood sugar progressively increased in proportion to the protein that I consumed.

Test #2

  Day 1-3: Consume roughly 0.5 lbs of beef with white rice.

➤Average fasting blood sugar level  = 98 mg/dL

  Day 4-6: Consume roughly 1.0 lbs of beef with white rice.

➤Average fasting blood sugar level  = 106 mg/dL

My blood sugar readings were slightly higher as I increased my protein intake. It wasn’t too significant of a rise, however, it makes sense why protein could contribute to higher fasting blood sugar levels. Too much protein causes inflammation within the body ( via ammonia production). Cortisol assists with inflammation, so its levels are increased via the adrenal glands.

Cortisol creates glucose from the gluconeogenesis cycle. This explains why we have glucose within the bloodstream upon fasting. Cortisol also breaks down muscle tissue because it requires amino acids before glucose can be generated. Any protein that is not utilized by the body will turn into fat or be processed as glucose to combat inflammation. Raising the energy demands of the body indirectly increases blood glucose levels.

Moderating the quantity of protein per meal helps mitigate this issue. Being aware of our bodily needs keeps the organ system from degrading.



Limit Consumption of Caffeine

I noticed that my blood sugar spiked slightly when consuming caffeine in the form of coffee. This situation occurs because caffeine leads to slight spurts in cortisol and adrenaline. It can be taxing on the body when adrenaline levels are continually elevated. The body needs the energy supply in the form of glucose to deal with these circumstances. Caffeine also increases metabolic rate, so the processing of sugars is enhanced. Moderate caffeine consumption exhibits a minor effect on blood sugar.

I noted a 10–15 mg/dl rise in blood sugar (on avg) upon consuming 1 cup of coffee. Adding a few extra cups could trigger a larger rise. Be cognizant and aware of your body. Everyone is different and processes caffeine uniquely.



Goji Berries - Not As Healthy As Portrayed

I wanted to dispel the belief that dried goji berries are a superfood. Yes, they are healthy in moderation, no doubt. But designating such a food as a super food can be misleading to the public. I conducted an experiment by consuming goji berries and nothing else. I purchased organic goji berries at Whole Foods Market.

The main issue with goji berries is the processing. Desiccating the berry causes the sugar to become more concentrated. We have become a society addicted to sugar due to accessibility and its effect on our pleasure center. Concentrated sugar is much more difficult to moderate, and it becomes exceedingly hard to avoid such temptation (reward signaling).

During my experiment, I soaked the goji berries overnight in a glass of water. The sugar fell to the base of the glass, being more dense than water. I consumed 120 grams of sugar at once! My pre and post blood sugar levels were as follows:

Pre: 101 mg/dL ⟿ Post (t = 0.25 hr): 188 mg/dL⟿ Post (t = 1 hr): 92 mg/dL

As shown, my blood sugar spiked rapidly to elevated levels. It caught me by surprise at first, but then I realized that sugar, no matter the form, will be hard for the body to process in high amounts. Fructose is more difficult to process relative to glucose. Consuming goji berries will pose no harm if done moderately. Just a small handful a day will be enough to reap the potential benefits.



Exercise Keeps the Organ running

The human body runs like a machine. The organ system is composed of many interconnected parts which carry unique functions. For instance, the body needs consistent maintenance to promote longevity. Food is analogous to the fuel which starts a car's engine. It provides energy to carry out mental and physical activities.

Exercise increases the efficiency of our internal engine. Moreover, running and resistance training support optimal blood flow to the brain. This leads to blood sugar balance because the brain supports each organ that regulates glucose metabolism.



I learned a lot through the process of experimenting with a blood glucose meter. The glucose meter is not entirely accurate, however, it helped me gauge the effects of certain foods on my sugar levels. Eating fats helps minimize any blood sugar spike to ease the liver with processing. Adding cinnamon and other anti inflammatory spices can lower cortisol and increase glucose sensitivity. Exercise exhibits many benefits to the organ system, which lowers the risk of metabolic disease. This goes a long way for minimizing the risk and onset of diabetes.

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Welcome to my site. I am Mark Hurley and I enjoy researching topics relating to Physiology, Psychology, Philosophy, and Mathematics. I have successfully reversed hormonal deficiency due to stress and created this blog to share with you what I've learned on my road to recovery.
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