Why Is a Blood Sugar Spike Such a Bad Thing?

My diet is based on trying to prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes.

On a health forum I recently got the question: Why is a blood sugar spike such a bad thing?

After all, the NICE tables sees a spike of up to 7.8 mmol/L (140mg/dl) as still perfectly acceptable.

The Personalized Diet is a bit more critical of blood sugar spikes. On page 23 they say: “We also know that sharp glucose spikes after a meal are a risk factor for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other metabolic disorders. A recent study (one of many) that followed 2,000 people for more than 30 years found that higher meal glucose responses predicted higher overall mortality during the study.”

Source: M. Bergman et. al. “One‐hour post‐load plasma glucose level during the OGTT predicts mortality”

What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Spikes?

The insulin in your system works hard to make cells absorb excessive secretions of blood glucose. If the cells have had their fill, the insulin turns the remaining blood glucose into fat for storage by the body. This is the cause of weight gain.

Another side effect of a blood sugar spike is the subsequent drop to a low level. It is when the blood sugar levels drop that we feel very extremely hungry, causing us to overeat – on things that make the blood sugar levels spike again. And so the the evil cycle is perpetuated.

What If the Spike is Higher than 7.8 (140)?

In my case, three food types takes me past the 7.8 threshold to more than 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dl). This puts me in a massive danger zone.

Is a Spike to Under 7.8 (140) Acceptable?

It all depends on the percentage spike from your normal sugar levels. If your resting blood glucose level is 4.5 for example, then a spike to 7.5 would mean a 78% spike. That is a very bad spike, and shows that you gut bacteria is reacting adversely to something you are eating.

Is It the Food Or the Individual?

This study found that individuals have unique glycemic responses to certain foods – what makes your blood sugar spike might be a food that is perfectly beneficial to your son/daughter/spouse. Therefore, stick to foods that does not cause a glycemic reaction – do this long enough and you lose weight, you increase your insulin tolerance & overall health.

Today more than 100 million people in the US are diabetic or prediabetic. Out of a population of what, 350 million, that is a massive problem, and might be due to the fact that people follow diets that cause continual blood sugar spikes.

Blood sugar spikes cause the pancreas to secrete more insulin, and eventually the cells become insulin resistant, leading to pre-diabetes and even diabetes.

Other disadvantages

How to Measure Your Reaction to Different Foods

Start with basic food groups you have on a daily basis:

Grains like Corn, Oats, Wheat, Rice.

Legumes like Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Soybeans

Fruit like Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Guavas, Olives.

Meats: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Fish.

Pick one of the food types and make a meal of (just) it.

Get a blood sugar meter and take a baseline reading after fasting for 3 hours, just before taking your first bite.

Then take a reading at 30, 60, 90 minutes.

Compute the percentage rise from the baseline to the highest reading.

As soon as you know you are safe on, say, chicken, prepare a meal with chicken and peas, for example. You already know you did not spike on chicken, so if you now spike on chickenand peas, you know it must be the peas.

Alternative approach

If you feel really brave, start with a meal of for example 4 to 6 ingredients. If you don’t spike after the meal, that all the ingredients can go on your safe list. If you spike, you’ll have to test the items one by one.

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