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It’s been said that too much of anything can be a bad thing, and that’s certainly true for the amount of sugar – or glucose – that’s in your blood.
Everyone needs some sugar circulating in the bloodstream because sugar is a potent source of energy for the body. But too much blood sugar can be quite a bad thing for your body’s health, since too much sugar circulating in your blood can “clog up” the function of some of your cells’ most critical parts – ultimately harming your health in potentially severe ways.
So it’s important that your blood sugar levels consistently fall within a normal, healthy range – and here are 3 science-backed ways you can help your body do exactly that.
Why is exercise able to do this?
It’s because exercise – or more specifically, muscle contractions – affects a whole host of signaling molecules in your body. These signaling molecules are responsible for regulating your body’s insulin response. Insulin is a hormone – or a chemical messenger in your body – that tells various cells when it’s time to take in sugar molecules (from the bloodstream) and convert them to energy.
Insulin is thus a very crucial – and very active – player in determining your blood sugar levels. Regular exercise helps ensure that your body’s insulin response is more accurately regulated – thus boosting the odds that you’ll have healthy blood sugar levels.
What exercise strategy or regimen is best for improving blood sugar levels? The jury is still out on that question: although many studies have explored this topic, a decisive answer is not yet forthcoming. However, what is very clear – and what is very much an unassailable conclusion based on current research – is that regular exercise (whether aerobic or resistance, high-intensity or moderate-intensity) has a positive effect on blood sugar.
Scientists have discovered that diets high in dietary fiber are effective at reducing blood sugar levels. So if you’re aiming to get an ideal blood sugar level, add more fibrous foods to your diet – like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Smoking can shoot your blood sugar levels up, causing your body’s health to deteriorate. But why does smoking have this effect on blood sugar?
Cigarette smoke, it turns out, dramatically heightens cortisol levels. Cortisol, popularly known as the “stress hormone,” is in charge of activating the body’s “fight-or-flight” response when a dangerous situation presents itself. It does this by giving you a quick-but-mighty burst of glucose-powered energy. But this extra energy comes at a price, because cortisol stimulates you with a fight-or-flight response by converting some of the protein in your muscles into glucose. So chronically-high amounts of cortisol – resulting from cigarette smoking – can lead to blood sugar levels that are constantly elevated.
If you’d like to easily check up on your blood sugar levels, try EverlyWell’s convenient at-home HbA1C Test. (This test uses a specific biochemical marker called HbA1c to assess your average blood sugar levels over the past 90 days. This gives you unique insight into your personal wellness that isn’t accessible through a single glucose measurement – which can vary widely throughout the day.)