WE'VE all felt a little 'hangry' before.
Most people at some point in their life will experience an element of grouchiness that takes over when going too long without food.
As our lives get busier, it can be easy to forget to eat or choose to ignore obvious hunger signs.
By ignoring these signs, a reaction can be triggered which makes you feel irritable and on edge.
A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found there was a large correlation between hunger, feeling angry, and low blood sugar levels.
With that in mind, we take a look at why it's important to manage your blood sugar levels.
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The British Heart Foundation states that the hormone insulin allows sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream to enter your cells, where it can be used for energy.
"If you don't have enough insulin, sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels," guidance states.
This can then lead to other issues such as coronary heart disease, kidney disease and diabetic eye disease.
Speaking to Sun health, nutritionist Jess Hillard has revealed how you can avoid spikes and dips in your blood sugar.
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1. Don't skip meals
To effectively manage your blood sugar levels, it is extremely important that you are eating three meals per day that contain all the essential nutrients your body needs, the expert said.
Jess, who is the in-house nutritionist at sports nutrition brand Warrior said this includes carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.
"By not eating at key mealtimes, your body will find it difficult to stabilise blood sugar levels and will leave you feeling famished.
"To avoid this and ensure your energy levels are consistent throughout the day, eating at key mealtimes is essential," she said.
2. Have snacks
If you know that you are prone to low blood sugar levels or find that you get the shakes during the day, it is important to carry snacks with you at all times, Jess advised.
"These should be high in carbohydrates to give you the nutrients you need to effectively manage your blood sugar levels.
"Having healthy snacks on you at all times are key to preventing you from getting to the ‘hangry’ point and feeling dizzy," she added.
3. Exercise consciously
Exercising regularly is essential to a healthy routine. However, it is important to be aware of the impact exercise can have on your body as it increases insulin sensitivity, Jessica said.
"Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it means your cells can effectively use the available sugar in your bloodstream, it does mean that you need to ensure that you are fuelling your body sensibly before and after exercising.
"To avoid experiencing dizzy spells or feeling faint after exercise, you should ensure you have a high carbohydrate snack or meal shortly after finishing," the expert said.
She added that if the workout is longer than 60 minutes, you might want to think about having something to refuel your blood sugar levels during your workout too.
"Great options for this are sports drinks, sweets, or energy gels, which are easy to consume during exercise," Jessica said.
What should your blood sugar levels be?
Blood sugar levels are measured in molar concentration (millimoles per litre).
For non-diabetics, the normal level is between 4 and to 6mmol/L before meals and less than 8 mmol/L two hours after eating, the British Heart Foundation states.
LOW BLOOD SUGAR
Early signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) include:
- Feeling hungry
- Feeling tired
- Feeling shaky, dizzy, or irritable
If not treated, you may start to feel weak, slur your speech, or become clumsy (similar to being drunk), and it can even cause seizures or fainting.
HIGH BLOOD SUGAR
High blood sugar (Hyperglycaemia) is a common problem for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Feeling thirty
- Frequently needing to pee
- Feeling tired
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
It can be caused by stress, illness, overeating, not drinking enough water, not exercising, or missing doses of diabetes medication.
4. Sleep regularly
A poor sleep routine sleep can have an impact on blood sugar levels, and even one night of sleep deprivation can increase insulin resistance, which can impact your blood sugar, Jess said.
The expert added that a lack of sleep is also seen to be related to diabetes and other blood sugar disorders which make it hard for your body to regulate blood sugar levels.
She advised that you should allow yourself at least one hour before you intend to sleep to unwind, with no screen time.
"This will wind your brain down ready to sleep and will improve the quality of your sleep too.
"Instead of looking at your phone, scrolling endlessly on Instagram, read a book for an hour.
"If you are prone to overthinking at night, which in-turn affects your sleep, great options can be putting on some storm sounds to take your mind off the thoughts, or even a soothing podcast," she said.
5. Stay hydrated
Jessica said that many people overlook the importance of drinking enough water when it comes to managing blood sugar levels.
She said that sufficient hydration can not only support – but even lower blood sugar.
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"This is because water not only prevents dehydration, which can elevate blood sugar levels due to a higher concentration of glucose in the bloodstream, but it also helps flush out excess sugar through urine.
"It is recommended that you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day, but if you find this difficult you could try adding lime or lemon to give it added flavour," she added.
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