Regulating your blood glucose levels is critical to your bones and overall health. In today’s article, we will delve into the most common threat for maintaining desirable glucose levels: after-meal glucose spikes.
We’ll examine the study that shows how to lower blood glucose and insulin levels while reducing oxidative damage, and why this greatly benefits your bones and your overall health. So read on to learn an easy trick for regulating your blood sugar and a recipe to get you started.
The Impact Of Blood Glucose Levels
When we eat, the process of digestion begins immediately, breaking apart and processing the food components. Many foods contain some form of sugar, or, like wheat, end up as glucose in the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood-sugar levels. In response to that change, our body produces extra insulin to allow our cells to uptake the glucose and restore the glucose balance.
When we eat foods with a high content of readily accessible sugar, this increase in glucose happens rapidly, and the insulin response follows to match, creating a big spike and then a crash. These ups and downs take a toll on the body.
Postprandial (after a meal) spikes in glucose and insulin damage tissues and cells and trigger an inflammatory response. Both have been shown to lead to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and dementia. 1,2,3
Here are some problems caused by consuming excess sugar:
Due to the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which are sugar-bonded proteins that weaken collagen, sugar contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.4
Weakened Immune System
Sugar blocks Vitamin C from entering cells, reducing antioxidant levels. Sugar also reduces your ability to break down and neutralize bacteria and pathogens.5
Weight Gain and Obesity
Sugar is a carbohydrate, and if consumed in excess, it turns into fat in the body. Your brain releases “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin when you eat sugar. This positive emotional feedback can create an addiction to sugary foods, resulting in weight gain. Sugary drinks in particular lead to obesity.6
Sugar poses many risks, and fasting blood glucose (a measure of blood sugar between meals) does not provide sufficient data to assess susceptibility. Elevated postprandial glucose and insulin levels are highly predictive of future disease risks, even if your fasting blood glucose levels are within range.7
Not all foods contain the same amount of sugar, and some naturally occurring sugars take longer to make it into the bloodstream. We use a measure called the glycemic load to describe how much blood sugar levels will be increased by a serving of a particular food. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid foods with a high glycemic load.
Big jumps in blood sugar and insulin levels should be avoided. After we eat food containing sugars, our blood sugar levels increase accordingly, and our insulin levels spike to process the sugar. If blood sugar and insulin levels increase too much too quickly, they can damage our bodies and impact our health, leading to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and brain degeneration.
How Sugar Damages Your Bones
Sugar saps important minerals from your bones, diminishing their density and weakening them. These are the three Foundation Supplements, all familiar to Savers as major building-blocks of bone, that are most directly impacted by sugar:
Sugar is highly acidifying, causing your body to take calcium from your bones to restore the pH balance.8
Our bodies contain about 25 grams of magnesium, and 60% of it is stored in our bones. The sugars glucose and mannitol throw this balance into jeopardy by increasing magnesium excretion.9
Copper, which serves as both a building block of bone and a protective antioxidant, doesn’t even make it to your bones when too much sugar is present. Sugar prevents this bone-essential mineral from being absorbed.10
Spikes in blood glucose exacerbate these processes, leading to weaker bones. That’s why it’s so important for Savers to regulate postprandial blood sugar levels. Fortunately, there’s a common food that helps to suppress postprandial glucose spikes when consumed along with a meal: almonds.
Sugar weakens your bones, sapping three minerals from the bone matrix: calcium, magnesium, and copper. Thus blood sugar and insulin spikes are of particular concern for Savers, and they should take steps to avoid a glycemic imbalance.
Almonds Reduce Blood Sugar Spikes
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition established the glycemic control properties of almonds by comparing the impact of five different meals on blood glucose, insulin, and antioxidant levels.11 Seven men and eight women aged 19 to 52 participated in the study. Each participant ate five meals: two control meals of white bread, one meal of 60 grams (approximately 2 ounces or ¼ cup) of almonds in addition to white bread, one meal of parboiled rice, and one meal of instant mashed potatoes.
The researchers found that after eating the meal with almonds, participant’s serum protein thiol concentrations increased, which indicates less oxidative protein damage. Thiol levels decreased after consuming the other meals.
Participants’ glycemic indices were significantly lower after the rice and almond meals than the potato meal. Here’s the study conclusion:
We conclude that the combination of lower glucose, insulin, and less postprandial protein oxidative damage suggests that there may be additional mechanisms, besides cholesterol lowering, by which nuts may be associated with a decreased risk of CHD. In the case of almonds, it may be that both the attenuated glycemic response together with their known antioxidant content may have resulted in the antioxidant advantage of the almond meal. This finding is consistent with the decrease in oxidized LDL reported after addition of almonds to the diet.11
Even though the group consuming the almonds were eating the same processed high-carbohydrate white bread as the control groups, the addition of almonds resulted in a smaller increase in blood sugar and insulin levels.
That’s excellent news for Savers!
A published scientific study found that adding 2 ounces or ¼ cup of almonds to a carbohydrate-rich meal resulted in lower blood glucose levels, lower insulin levels, and less oxidative protein damage than comparable meals without almonds. That means that almonds are an effective way to protect our health and our bones by avoiding blood sugar spikes after meals– spikes that research has linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and reduced bone density.
Get Started On A More Almond-Filled Diet
One way to reap the benefits established in the study is to do what the participants did: eat about ¼ cup of raw almonds with your meal. For some meals, that might work out just fine, but for others, a handful of nuts might not fit the menu.
So instead, you can add almond butter to a smoothie, spread it on a sandwich, or serve it as a dip for freshly sliced apples. Slivered almonds are great salad toppings, adding heft and crunch along with health benefits. A delicious trick is substituting almond flour for regular flour to make baked goods bone-friendly.
Try out this recipe for Almond Flour Rolls with family or friends. Thanks to the almond flour, it’s gluten-free.
Almond Flour Rolls
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Soak the chia seeds in 4 teaspoons hot water for 10 minutes until the mixture turns into a gel.
- In a bowl mix the almond flour, baking powder, chia seeds, flax-seeds, honey, and salt.
- Add the coconut oil and eggs, and blend well until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the lemon and mix well.
- Pour the boiling water slowly, and stir into the mixture. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to firm up.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Roll a ball of dough between wet hands, and place the balls on the lined baking tray.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden and firm.
Whether you’re sprinkling slivered almonds, baking with almond flour, or enjoying the crunchy satisfaction of the whole nut, almonds are a powerful addition to a pH-balanced diet.
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Till next time,
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2 Madsbad S. Impact of postprandial glucose control on diabetes-related complications: How is the evidence evolving? J Diabetes Complications. 2016;30(2):374-85.
3 Fowler GC, Vasudevan DA. Type 2 diabetes mellitus: managing hemoglobin A(1c) and beyond. South Med J. 2010;103(9):911-6.
4 Nobuyuki, Sasaki, et al. “Advanced Glycation End Products in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases.” The American Journal of Pathology. 1998 October; 153(4): 1149–1155. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1853056/
5 Sanchez, Albert J.L., et al. “Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis.” The American Society for Clinical Nutrition. 1973 Nov; 26(11):1180-4. Web. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract%29
6 Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. “Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.” N Engl J Med. 2011;364:2392-404.
7 Ning F, Tuomilehto J, Pyorala K, et al. Cardiovascular disease mortality in Europeans in relation to fasting and 2-h plasma glucose levels within a normoglycemic range. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(10):2211-6.
8 Lawoyin, S., et al. “Bone mineral content in patients with calcium urolithiasis.” Metabolism 28:1250-1254.1979.
9 Swaminathan, R. “Magnesium Metabolism and its Disorders.” The Clinical Biochemist Reviews. 2003 May; 24(2): 47-66. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1855626/
10 Wapnir, RA and Devas, G. “Copper deficiency: interaction with high-fructose and high-fat diets in rats.” The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. January 1995. Vol. 61 no. 1; 105-110. Web. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/61/1/105.abstract
11 David J.A. Jenkins et. al. “Almonds Decrease Postprandial Glycemia, Insulenemia, and Oxidative Damage in Healthy Individuals.” The Journal of Nutrition. 136: 2987–2992, 2006. Web. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/19a6/db4703187353b5e295004cef8768ffa82441.pdf