Less Sugar, Better Health

Blood Sugar Regulation is important to optimal health and well-being because it affects all aspects of our physiology. It is involved in energy production, tissue integrity, hormone balance as well as brain health; including mood, memory and cognitive function. Blood Sugar regulation also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system. As the world is dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system is a priority for a lot of us.

On average, Americans consume 150 pounds of sugar a year. That’s a lot of sugar! It’s everywhere. Sugar is a major ingredient in most processed  and refined foods. It’s in bread, soft drinks, fruit juices, breakfast cereals, yogurt, ketchup, salad dressing and even cigarettes. Sugar has many names which makes it challenging to identify. Some of these names include corn syrup, rice syrup, agave, barley malt, maltodextrin, dextrose, and sucrose. You can find a more complete list can here. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/56-different-names-for-sugar


The body likes to keep blood sugar(glucose) levels at 70 – 90 mg/dl. High intake of sugar can send your blood glucose levels on a roller coaster ride with extreme ups and downs. When we eat large amounts of sugar and refined foods, our blood glucose levels spike, and insulin is released by the pancreas to bring levels back down. Blood glucose levels can then fall below ideal, in which case the central nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release epinephrine and cortisol to raise levels back up. If and when we consume more bad carb foods, the blood glucose levels again spike and the cycle repeats itself all over again. When blood glucose levels are constantly elevated after eating, large amounts of insulin are continuously being released as well. Over time our cells begin to ignore the presence of insulin and become resistant, which is known  as insulin resistance. The adrenals also become taxed with the constant demand to secrete cortisol and epinephrine.

When we eat more sugar than our body can use, it is stored  in the liver, skeletal muscles and ultimately as fat in adipose tissue. Obesity and chronic inflammation results from over consumption of simple sugars. Higher inflammatory markers are commonly found along with the increase of inflammatory messengers known as cytokines. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/91/1/280S/4597143?searchresult=1

Sugar consumption is also is a major contributor to conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, cancer and immune dysfunction. A diet predominately consisting of processed foods and refined sugars lacks vital nutrients that our cells need to function optimally. This leads to nutrient deficiencies and a weakened immune system. Sugar also wreaks havoc on digestive health and the protective microbiome. It’s a contributor to intestinal permeability, commonly referred to leaky gut. You can read more about my explanation of leaky gut here. http://hopefoundwellness.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-leaky-gut/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20573797

Anyone stressed right now? Under stressful conditions, elevated levels of cortisol into are released into our systems, thereby raising blood glucose levels.  Stress blocks your body from releasing insulin and that leads to glucose to accumulate. Chronic stress and high sugar diet are not a good combination! 


Fortunately, there are dietary and lifestyle recommendations that help regulate blood sugar and improve your health. We will look at a few helpful recommendations. Eating a balanced plate that includes quality proteins, fats and lots of low carb veggies will keep blood glucose levels stable. A nutrient dense, whole foods diet will fuel your body and supply vital healing nutrients. Make sure to include plenty of:

  • high quality grass-fed meats, pastured poultry, wild caught seafood
  • organic, local, seasonal produce 
  • healthy fats like olive oil, ghee, avocados, nut, seeds and coconut oil
  • aim to eat a plate that consists 50% of low carb veggies, 25% quality meat as protein and 25% starchy veggies such a half a sweat potato, and 2 tablespoons of good fats such as olive oil,  grass fed butter/ghee, or coconut oil.
  • Avoid drinking sugary drinks, refined sugars and flour. Check out these tips concerning sugar detox. https://drhyman.com/blog/2014/03/06/top-10-big-ideas-detox-sugar/

Managing stress is essential to regulate blood sugar levels. Common forms of stress include work, relationships, death of a loved one, and loss of a job. Other causes of stress that may be subtle include diet, chronic illness, lack of self-care, fears and environmental toxins. Prioritizing the need to identify, manage and reduce stress is essential to improving your health. 

Getting a good night rest is a must! Chris Kresser says in his book The Paleo code“ improving the quality, duration, and timing of sleep is one of the single most powerful interventions you can make to improve your health.” Sleep reduces stress, improves blood sugar regulation, as well as allows your body to heal and detoxify. Tips to getting good sleep include:

  • Have a set, consistent schedule of going to bed and getting up, allowing for adequate rest; ideally without the need for an alarm clock to wake up.
  • Make sure the bedroom environment is dark, cool and comfortable. Black out curtains are a great way to ensure proper darkness. Make certain to charge your phone in another room.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed time, especially high carb, sugary snacks. A handful of almonds would be a better choice if you feel the need.
  • Avoid using electronics 2 hours before bed time due to the blue light stimulation that will disrupt your circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid caffeine after 12:00 pm.

Appropriate movement has many benefits of course but it is a great way to help manage stress, lower blood glucose levels and improve quality of sleep. Appropriate is the key word here. Excessive exercise can be harmful to your health similarly to a sedentary lifestyle. Excessive exercise can lead to dysregulated cortisol, increased risked for immune related illness and digestive conditions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587394/

Don’t let lack of time be a deterrent to getting movement in. Moving throughout the day still has great benefits. If you are pressed for time do 10-15 minutes in the morning, take a 10-15-minute walk at lunch and add another 10-15-minute workout in the evening. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, make certain to get up and move/stretch every hour, it will make a big impact on your health and stress level. Here are some ideas to get moving at different intensity levels

  • Low Intensity
  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Restorative Yoga

  • Medium Intensity
  • Swimming
  • Pilates
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • High Intensity
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • HIIT
  • Hot Yoga

After reading this post, I hope you have a better understanding of the role that blood sugar regulation has on our health, the negative effects of high sugar foods, as well as the role that stress plays in blood glucose dysregulation. I also want you to be empowered with the knowledge that you can take actionable steps to improve and balance your blood glucose levels and overall health. Diet, sleep and movement are great areas to focus on, so you can live a life with vitality and health. 


Trescott. M, Alt. A, (2016) The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. Rodale. New York City, NY.

Kresser. C, (2013) The Paleo Cure. Little Brown Spark. New York City, NY.

Sanfilippo, D. (2012). Practical Paleo. Victory Belt. Las Vegas, NA.