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Oops! Your Blood Sugar Dropped. Here’s How to Prevent It Next Time.

Experiencing a blood sugar “crash” after indulging in dessert on an empty stomach is a familiar scenario for many. Symptoms like fatigue, irritability, dizziness, hunger, and shakiness often accompany this sudden drop in blood sugar levels. This phenomenon occurs when the body reacts to a rapid influx of sugar by releasing excessive insulin, causing blood glucose levels to plummet below the normal range. While an occasional crash may not raise significant concerns, it underscores the profound impact of dietary choices on overall well-being.

Managing blood sugar levels is particularly crucial for individuals with conditions like diabetes, where monitoring becomes a daily necessity. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and nutrition and medicine professor at Tufts University, explains that individuals with type 2 diabetes face challenges due to insulin resistance, leading to elevated blood glucose levels and inadequate tissue energy supply.

Even individuals without diabetes can benefit from regulating blood sugar spikes. Professor David Sinclair, a genetics and longevity researcher at Harvard Medical School, warns against constant sugar spikes, which can result in brain fog and hunger pangs as glucose levels fluctuate. Moreover, habitual poor dietary habits can lead to long-term health issues such as cardiovascular and kidney complications.

Understanding optimal blood sugar levels is crucial for gauging metabolic health. While post-meal blood sugar spikes are normal, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that levels up to 180 mg/dL two hours after eating are acceptable. However, persistent high levels may indicate underlying diabetes or prediabetes.

Managing blood sugar effectively involves lifestyle modifications, particularly for those with diabetes or prediabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity enhance insulin sensitivity, helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, minimizing intake of ultra-processed foods and refined carbohydrates, while reducing added sugar consumption, is key.

Dr. Mozaffarian advocates for a diet rich in fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from sources like plant oils, fish, and yogurt. These dietary choices promote stable blood sugar levels and overall metabolic health.

In essence, proactive management of blood sugar through mindful dietary choices and lifestyle habits is essential for both preventing acute crashes and mitigating long-term health risks associated with metabolic imbalances.

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