The “Blood Sugar Spike” *
Beware of high increased blood sugar after meals.
Our blood sugar level increases after meals, because glucose increases.
When there is blood sugar in our blood vessels, a hormone called insulin is secreted by the pancreas, and draws the glucose into our body’s cells.
Our blood sugar usually returns to its premeal level about 2 hours after a meal. The “blood sugar spike” is when blood sugar suddenly increases to over 140 mg/dl. Before and after the spike, blood sugar level appears normal on examination.
According the Hisayama Study of 8,000 people in Fukuoka, Japan, 20% of people aged 40 or over had a blood sugar spike. The Hisayama Study is the most well-known cohort study in epidemiology in the world. If this ratio of the blood sugar spike is extrapolated to the total population of Japan, 10% of Japanese people have the blood sugar spike.
The blood sugar spike is one of the causes of myocardial infarction, stroke, cancer, dementia, etc. The blood sugar spike occurs not only in senior or old people but also young; 20s or 30s. The mechanism of arteriosclerosis caused by blood sugar spike is already understood.
Repeated increased blood sugar creates much active oxygen. Active oxygen attacks cells inside blood vessels (vascular endotheliumal cells) and immune cells come and gather near the damaged cells.
The gathered immune cells thicken the blood cell wall, narrow the vessel and restrict blood flow.
This is the mechanism of arteriosclerosis and can eventually lead to increased risk of myocardial and cerebral infarction (stroke).
It is suspected that the risk of dementia is increased in the following way: when large quantities of insulin are secreted by the pancreas, amyloid beta accumulates in the brain.
Amyloid beta is one of the causes Alzheimer’s type dementia and it damages nerve cells in the brain.
The blood sugar spike often goes unnoticed in normal physical examination because examination is usually carried out on an empty stomach or 1 or 2 hours after a meal (oralglucose tolerance test: OGTT).
Check your blood sugar spike risk! (It’s a Japanese language website but please try!)
THREE (3) TIPS FOR PREVENTION OR REDUCTION OF THE BLOOD SUGAR SPIKE
1. Eat natural and whole foods, unprocessed foods and dietary fibre-rich foods like unpolished rice, barley, grains, cereals, and vegetables.
Dietary fibre slows the increase of blood sugar because it interrupts the digestion of glucose. But avoid eating a lot of sugar.
2. Chew well and eat meals regularly.
Chewing well is extremely important.
For adults, the frequency of meals is not essential.
According to individual health condition,either 2 or 3 meals a day is OK. But it is important to eat a balanced meal when you are hungry and your stomach rumbles, and remember to chew well.
Chewing well slows the increase in blood sugar. If you eat even when you are not hungry, just because it is “time”, you will eat too much.
Traditional Japanese home medicine teaches us to chew every mouthful 50–100 times. Chewing over 50 times produces lots of saliva, which aids digestion and absorption.
But chewing over 50 times these days is difficult, so you should try to chew at least 30 times to produce lots of saliva. You should notice that the saliva is helping your digestion and absorption.
3. Moderate exercise: During the 15 minutes after a meal, blood concentrates in the stomach and intestines for digestion and absorption.
Some moderate exercise like washing the dishes or walking around is beneficial after a meal, you may be able to prevent the blood sugar spike.
Even if your blood sugar level appears normal when you have a health check, if you are a fast eater or take all your food in one go, you may be at risk of the blood sugar spike.