How can I control my blood sugar?

The sugar in the blood is glucose. Without a steady supply of glucose to the brain and other organs, you wouldn’t be able to think or function at all.

Your blood glucose level is controlled by two hormones: glucagon raises it and insulin lowers it. Problems arise when the blood glucose level goes too high or too low.

If you eat a meal or snack that causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, insulin is released to bring the level down again. It is better for your health and your energy levels to avoid these rapid surges in blood glucose.

It used to be assumed that foods rich in complex carbohydrates (such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes) would be digested slowly to produce a gentle rise in blood glucose. By contrast, it was thought sugary foods (which require very little digestion to produce glucose) would provoke a rapid rise in blood sugar. This assumption turns out to be simplistic – and wrong! Some starchy foods such as bread and jacket potatoes can push up your blood glucose faster than table sugar.

To achieve better control of your blood sugar, you need to know which carbohydrate foods release their energy slowly and which cause a glucose surge. This is why the glycaemic index was developed by David Jenkins and colleagues at the University of Toronto.


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