Beat the sugar low this festive seasonThe festive season is that special time of year when friends and family get together, share good times and eat good food. Lots of good food! For many, this is the time to hit the kitchen to test special new Christmas recipes. It’s also a time for lots of socialising and doing the rounds of Christmas catch-ups, often eating multiple meals or continuous grazing at every house.
Before dishing up that second helping, it may pay to keep in mind what is actually happening in your body when you overindulge. The body breaks carbohydrates down into sugars that are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. As more carbohydrates are digested, blood sugar levels rise, stimulating the pancreas to release insulin. The release of insulin allows cells to absorb blood sugar and use it for energy or storage.
Carbohydrates can be divided into two types – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates e.g. fructose and sucrose, are quickly and easily digested, often leading to a fast rise in blood sugar levels, This is followed by a fast rise in insulin levels that will lead to a drop in blood sugar. If this rapid rise and fall of blood sugar levels happens often, it can have negative effects in the body. Complex carbohydrates, known as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, take longer to digest and often also contain vitamins, minerals and fibre. They are less likely to cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
To help alleviate confusion, the glycaemic index (GI) rating system was formulated. The index divides foods into low, medium and high, depending on how quickly blood sugar levels rise after consumption. Foods with a low GI are digested slowly, causing a more gradual increase in blood sugar and are therefore recommended. Conversely, high GI foods lead to a fast increase in blood sugar levels and are therefore only recommended in moderation. Eating a diet containing a lot of high GI foods has been shown to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and age-related macular degeneration (1, 2, 3).
Keeping blood sugar levels steady is important for maintain good health. Recent research examined the effect of Comvita Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract on overweight participants who were likely to be insulin resistant. The results suggest the pancreas responded better to higher blood sugar levels for the participants taking OLE versus the placebo. Their cells also then responded better to insulin resulting in steadier blood sugar levels across the course of the study for those taking OLE (4).
Comvita’s Extra Strength Olive Leaf Extract is 50% stronger than our standard liquid extract and specially developed for cardiovascular support. This includes helping to maintain normal healthy blood sugar levels, in healthy individuals. So as the festive season gets into full swing, remember to your daily dose of Fresh-Picked™ OLE and enjoy the Christmas cheer.
- Livesey, G., Taylor, R., Livesey, H., & Liu, S. (2013). Is there a dose-response relation of dietary glycemic load to risk of type 2 diabetes? Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr.; 97:584-96. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.041467. 2.
- Chiu, C.J., Hubbard, L.D., Armstrong, J., et al. (2006). Dietary glycemic index and carbohydrate in relation to early age-related macular degeneration. Am J Clin Nutr. 83:880-6. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/4/880.long
- 3Beulens, J.W., de Bruijne, L.M., Stolk, R.P., et al. (2007). High dietary glycemic load and glycemic index increase risk of cardiovascular disease among middle-aged women: a population-based follow-up study. J Am Coll Cardiol.; 50:14-21.
- de Bock, M., Derraik, J., Brennan, C. M., Biggs, J. B., Morgan, P. E., Hodgkinson, S. C., Hofman, P. L., & Cutfield W. S. (2013). Olive (Olea europaea L.) Leaf Polyphenols Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Middle-Aged Overweight Men: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. PLoS One, 8(3), e57622. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057622
Helpful link: University of Sydney http://www.glycemicindex.com/