Researchers are finding that most degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, are the result of too much inflammation in the body. So, where does inflammation come from? One of the main triggers of inflammation is high blood sugar. Inflammation can also be caused by food allergies and immune challenges, which we will discuss later.
The glycemic index (GI) is a number that indicates a food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. The number typically ranges between 50 and 100, where 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose. Table sugar has a glycemic index of 100, whereas brown rice has an average GI of 50. It is interesting to note that wheat and white potatoes have the same GI as sugar, in other words, they will raise your blood glucose very quickly.
When we eat foods with a high glycemic index our blood sugar will rise quickly giving us a rush of energy. The pancreas will then secrete insulin which will shuttle the sugar into the cells creating a condition of low blood sugar. This is why we have an energy crash at 10:00 am after eating a high carbohydrate (sugar) breakfast. If we continue to consume carbohydrates throughout the day, we will have energy spikes and crashes all day long. This is extremely hard on the adrenal glands and may also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Blood sugar that remains high will cause inflammation in the arteries and other tissues. Some scientists think this inflammation is the beginning of arterial wall tears that lead to arterial plaques and atherosclerosis. Inflammation can damage the brain tissue, nervous system, heart, joints, gut lining – well, all tissues are prone to damage from inflammation.
To keep your blood sugar, and inflammation, down we recommend eating a diet high in protein and fats and low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body, whereas protein and fats must be broken down through several steps to become available for fuel. We are inclined to think that we get fat from eating fats, but it is sugar that is ultimately stored as fat.
So, which foods are highest in carbohydrates? All grains and sugars are loaded with carbohydrates, even whole grains, and they will raise your blood sugar. Vegetables are also high in carbohydrates but their glycemic index is lower because they contain a lot of fiber and they raise your blood sugar more slowly. Vegetables are also loaded with many essential nutrients and should be consumed in abundance. Meat, fish, dairy, nuts, and eggs should also be an integral part of your diet. Stick with the good fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, eggs, butter, cheese, nuts, and animal fats; and avoid the bad fats, such as canola, vegetable, safflower, sunflower oils and all trans fats.
Our current Food Pyramid is really upside down. The bottom of the pyramid recommends that we eat several servings of whole grains per day. Believe it or not, whole grains do not contain any essential nutrients that we cannot get from vegetables, meat, diary, nuts, and good fats (and they raise our blood sugar). So, they are not an essential part of our diet, and you can live without them. Some of the better whole grains are quinoa and brown rice and can be eaten in moderation.
It’s no wonder that the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and dementia have risen so dramatically in the past 30 years. We need to turn the food pyramid upside down and let our blood sugar stay within normal ranges at all times.