How to Maintain Balanced Blood Sugar + Why It Affects Your Skin Health
Does balanced blood sugar matter if you don’t have diabetes?
We don’t blame you if you’ve asked yourself this question (or assumed the answer is no).
Most of us typically associate blood sugar with a diagnosis of diabetes. But achieving balanced blood sugar has become a popular topic in the world of health and nutrition lately. Many thought leaders, nutritionists, and medical professionals are realizing that balanced blood sugar is essential for everyone – no matter their body type, diet, or exercise habits.
So even if you eat healthy + exercise regularly, this post is still for you! We’re not medical professionals, but we believe balanced blood sugar is crucial for optimal health – including your skin. ;)
Let’s unpack it together.
What Is Blood Sugar + Why Do I Need Balanced Blood Sugar?
You might be wondering “what is blood sugar”? Everyone knows about sugars in food and how it enters the body. But “blood sugar” is much more than that.
Here’s a short explanation – let’s keep it simple.
Blood sugar is the ratio of sugar circulating + contained in your blood.
It’s also called glucose. Blood sugar provides energy and nutrients to your body. But as you might guess, there are unhealthy and healthy blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar comes from the foods you consume – in two main forms:
Ex. crackers, cookies, etc., or anything with “added sugars” in the ingredients
→ These kinds of sugar are processed by your body very quickly.
Ex. chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, whole grains like brown rice, oats, corn, quinoa, potatoes, veggies, etc.
→ These “sugars” break down in a slower, more manageable way for your body to process.
There’s another component to blood sugar: a hormone called insulin. Your pancreas creates insulin. Insulin’s role in balanced blood sugar is regulating healthy blood sugar levels. It helps your body convert glucose into energy you can use and store.2
Insulin does its job lowering blood sugar but your pancreas also secretes a different hormone called glucagon to raise blood sugar levels when needed.1
Our bodies are designed to be intuitively balanced – and go with the flow. Healthy blood sugar levels indicate that your body is processing sugar properly, without spikes. But modern-day diets and other lifestyle factors often get in the way of balanced blood sugar.
Why Balanced Blood Sugar Matters
Balance is the keyword here. Like many things, blood sugar isn’t bad in the right proportions – it provides energy and nutrients for your body to function optimally.1 Without it, we would all be in bad shape.
But when you have an excess of sugar in your blood from simple carbs and sugars, your body isn't able to process it as well. Without the balanced nutrition your body needs, your cells become resistant to insulin’s effects. It overloads your liver, pancreas, and intestines.1 And chronic insulin resistance can often end with a diabetes diagnosis.
Thought leader + herbalist Olivia Amitrano describes the feeling/symptoms of high blood sugar, or a blood sugar spike as experiencing:3
- Intense sugar and carb cravings
- Low energy
- Difficulty managing your weight
- Fatigue even though you get plenty of sleep
- Unpredictable mood
- Inflammation throughout the body
But the real question to look at is: how does high blood sugar impact your health long term?
Olivia has done a lot of research + talked to numerous professionals over the years. Here’s what she found from a holistic perspective:3
“Consistent elevation of our insulin levels not only drives inflammation and hormone disruption by increasing testosterone production and preventing androgen conversion to estrogen (as seen in PCOS) — it also lowers sex hormone binding globulin, resulting in greater amounts of free, unbound estrogen (contributing to symptoms of estrogen excess: i.e., endometriosis, fibroids, heavy periods, and PMS).”
That’s just a snippet of how balanced blood sugar is tied to your long-term health.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s talk about how blood sugar relates to your skin health.
There are plenty of reasons that balanced blood sugar = healthier skin.
How Blood Sugar Affects Your Skin
There are a variety of ways blood sugar can affect your skin, based on what we know about blood sugar + how it functions in the body left unchecked. People with diabetes often experience skin changes before getting a formal diagnosis – a telling sign of the connection.
Here are some of the biggest ways blood sugar can affect your skin:
→ Can cause premature aging (aka glycation)
Excess sugar in a diet can affect (and speed up) aging. So by association, it makes sense that balanced blood sugar would promote graceful aging + healthy skin. Experts say that even mildly high blood sugar promotes the effects of aging. So balancing blood sugar can also help slow down aging.4
→ Flares up inflammation in your body – including skin
Inflammation interferes with normal processes throughout the body. It’s known to be the root cause of diseases of all kinds. And how it shows up through your skin is no exception – blood sugar and acne are inherently connected. So maintaining balanced blood sugar will aid in preventing inflammation.
→ Affects your gut – which is connected to skin health
Tons of studies show how gut health is connected to your skin. But unhealthy blood sugar also increases the chance for overgrowth of yeasts like candida.
→ Affects your hormonal cycle
High blood sugar causes your body to secrete hormones in excess – causing a ripple effect throughout your body. And hormonal issues often result in skin issues.
→ Creates excess oil production in your skin
Foods that spike blood sugar also stimulate hormones linked to excess oil production. And excess oil can be one of the many factors that contribute to acne.5
But here’s the positive: maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is totally possible! We’ve done the research for you – there are so many ways to maintain balanced blood sugar – not just upgrading your diet.
Tips to Keep Blood Sugar Balanced
While diet may seem like the most obvious answer to balancing your blood sugar, there are many ways to regulate and maintain balanced blood sugar beyond just foods.
Here’s an overview of what affects blood sugar + how to balance blood sugar.
Make Healthy Food Choices as Often as Possible
Improving your diet doesn’t happen overnight, but the impact can’t be understated! The goal is to choose more whole, unprocessed foods with unsaturated fats, fiber, proteins, and carbs.
Try foods like:
→ Grass-fed + organic meats
→ Foods rich in omega-3 (salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds)
→ Fatty Fish
→ Fruits (especially low glycemic index fruits like berries)
To support healthy blood sugar, balance your meals/snacks by including protein, fat, carbs, and fiber.6 Maintaining a mixture of these essential elements is crucial to avoid spikes – especially if you indulge in processed foods or carbs.
High amounts of protein, fiber, and fats paired with carbs can help your body slow glucose absorption and avoid blood sugar spikes.3
Instead, choose unprocessed sugar sources like coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, and other natural sugar replacements like stevia or monk fruit. They still taste delicious and add extra flavor to your meals.
The food you eat literally forms the cells in your body. The impact of your choices with food shouldn’t be overlooked as a key to balancing blood sugar. So make it count. ;)
Take Supplements for Healthy Blood Sugar
Try a bit of apple cider vinegar before meals – it’s easy and inexpensive. Organic Olivia swears by this for balancing blood sugar.7 And it’s backed by scientific studies too.8
You can also try adding adaptogens like ashwagandha, maca, shilajit, or holy basil to your diet. Studies have shown that they can improve carbohydrate intolerance or potentially reverse the early stages of type II diabetes.4
Stay Well Hydrated
Hydration is essential in keeping blood sugar manageable, plus it comes with plenty of other health benefits. If you’re dehydrated, you risk having concentrated blood sugar levels.
Aside from helping balance blood sugar, hydration keeps toxins moving out of your body, gives you energy, helps digestion, and moisturizes your skin from the inside out.
Move Your Body More
Movement decreases blood sugar levels. Specifically, moving after meals with moderate exercise is shown to blunt glucose spikes.9 As crazy as it may sound, even just 2-5 minutes of exercise after a meal is proven to balance blood sugar.10
However you like to move is up to you! Try doing 25 air squats after a meal, walking for 10 minutes, or a moderate workout that suits your style. Plus, sweat helps the body detox, so you take care of yourself in multiple ways.
Get More Magnesium
Magnesium helps insulin balance blood sugar – it’s been proven through studies with type 2 diabetics. Magnesium plays many roles in your body, including the production of insulin and helping your cells utilize that insulin.11
The benefits don’t stop there. Magnesium also helps ease anxiety, improve sleep, give you energy, and contains anti-inflammatory properties – just to name a few. You can get more magnesium through a bath soak or a topical spray with magnesium. Electrolyte mixes often contain magnesium, too. (We love LMNT.)
Reduce Your Stress
Stress causes your body to secrete hormones that raise blood sugar.12 Stress comes in all different forms. You can experience physical stress on/in your body (illness) or emotional stress. Stress is stress, no matter what kind. Over time, stress puts a lot of strain on your body and can cause a ripple effect of health issues.
Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is when our bodies heal + reset. Sugar is known to reduce sleep quality. (Ever done a whole 30 cleanse and slept incredibly? Yep, it’s linked to sugar.) Try avoiding blue light a few hours before bed and focus on creating a welcoming sleep environment.
Blue light is artificial light emitted from most light sources and electronics – even your TV. So if you’re able to, wind down early with a book instead, turn down the lights, + invest in some blue light-blocking glasses. Your sleep quality will definitely improve.
Invest in a Glucose Monitor
Glucose monitors used to be just for those with diabetes. But now, there are several brands accessible to the public. It can be an investment cost-wise, but glucose monitors are powerful tools to understand how your body functions with certain foods, at certain times, etc.
It’s a wearable device that connects to an app to track your spikes and provide information on how you can keep balanced blood sugar throughout the day. Our founder Bethany has used the Nutrisense glucose monitor and liked it, but there are many other great options.
While there are admittedly a lot of things to consider with your lifestyle + diet, we want to remind you of one of our core principles. Give yourself grace for the process. Everyone’s bodies are different, and your journey may look different than someone else’s.
The Goal: Balanced Blood Sugar + a Healthier You
Considering what your unique body needs for balanced blood sugar can feel like a tall order. We’re always learning + growing when it comes to how to care for our bodies best. But remember: it doesn’t have to happen overnight!
Having foundational knowledge about healthy blood sugar + how your body processes different foods will help you navigate changes you can make. So whether you make one change today or five – know you’re working towards a healthier you.
- Live Science | What Is Blood Sugar?
- Healthline | The Effects of Insulin on the Body
- Organic Olivia | What Is a Blood Sugar Spike – and How Does It Contribute to Hormones & Mood?
- SmartSkinCare.Com | Skin and Blood Sugar. Is There a Connection?
- Biodermis: The Science of Skin | How Does Sugar Affect the Skin?
- The Foundation Blog by Kate Eskuri | 6 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level Naturally
- Organic Olivia | Why Apple Cider Vinegar Reduces Glucose Spikes by 30% (Helpful for PCOS + More)
- National Library of Medicine | Vinegar Consumption Can Attenuate Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses; A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials
- Journal of Applied Physiology | A Time for Exercise: The Exercise Window
- The New York Times | Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good for You
- National Library of Medicine | Magnesium and Type 2 Diabetes
- Mayo Clinic | Hyperglycemia in Diabetes
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