Keeping track of blood sugar levels has become a popular trend in the health and fitness industry. It's considered a form of biohacking that entails using technology, nutrition, and lifestyle changes to regulate and maintain blood sugar within a healthy range. As more people embrace this trend, we'll delve into the science behind it and learn some tips and strategies for optimal health.
What is DIY Biology?
Biohacking in general is commonly referred to as the do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, which involves combining science, medicine, technology, and lifestyle changes to improve your physical and mental health while preventing disease and promoting longevity. With biohacking, you take charge of your health in the hope of increasing your lifespan.
Cathal Garvey, an Irish geneticist and a full-time biohacker, describes biohacking as a movement “where people are working at the genetic level” for the purpose of analyses or manipulation. Further, he says it is about “taking advanced biotechnology and re-working it so that it can be done at a hobby level or for educational purposes.” Simply put, biohacking is about making biotechnology affordable and accessible to everyone.
Biohacking is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of activities and practices, from diet and nutrition to fitness, sleep, and mindfulness. It is meant to optimise or upgrade your body's natural processes to achieve specific desired outcomes.
Why You Should Care About Metabolic Health?
Blood sugar has been the target of biohacking, being that high glucose and insulin resistance are linked to accelerated ageing, decreased lifespan, and serious illnesses, such as cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. At the heart of blood sugar hacking and monitoring is maintaining your metabolic health, which is the state of your metabolism and how efficiently your body processes energy.
Blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference are all markers of metabolic health, and maintaining healthy and stable glucose levels is the key to improving all 5, according to Dr. Casey Means, a Stanford-trained physician and the co-founder of a metabolic health company called Levels.
If the body is producing high levels of insulin constantly to control the sugar overload caused by factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise, Dr. Lauren Kelley-Chew, head of Clinical Project also at Levels, says that metabolic dysfunction may eventually occur– giving rise to a host of health problems.
Blood Sugar Hacking
To maintain their metabolic health, some biohackers wear blood sugar monitoring devices to keep track of their glucose levels in real time and know in the moment how their activities, such as their diet and exercise, are affecting their blood sugar.
These devices are designed to analyse and provide relevant data, allowing wearers to make dietary changes and lifestyle modifications as necessary without having to regularly go for the traditional bloodwork procedure.
Dr. Means recommends that the safe and healthy blood sugar range is between 72-85 mg/dL for a fasting glucose; a post-meal glucose level of 110 mg/dL or lower; and an average glucose of 100 mg/dL or lower.
But even without the device, you can still follow some biohacking strategies to prevent your blood sugar levels from getting out of control. Below are our 5 biohacking tips that you can do to manage your glucose levels naturally.
1. Choose What You Eat
A big part of your metabolic health is linked to your diet. To regulate your blood sugar levels. Dr. Kelley-Chew advised eating a high nutrient-dense diet and taking it easy with processed foods, added sugar, pasta, white bread, and rice.
Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, fibre, healthy fats - including those in avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil - and protein like fish and chicken help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.
Drinking plenty of water can also aid in regulating your blood sugar by promoting healthy kidney function, which is vital to removing excess glucose from the bloodstream.
2. Don’t Skip Your Workout
Regular physical activity also plays a part in improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the muscles, leading to more stable blood sugar levels. Not exercising enough will make it harder for the body to eliminate the excess sugar.
Aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises per week, such as walking, running, and cycling, can contribute to lowering your blood sugar levels. You may also engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training, including weight lifting or bodyweight exercises. In addition, 10 to 15 minutes of light exercises after meals are an effective strategy to regulate your blood sugar.
3. Learn How to Manage Your Stress
Chronic stress can disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, leading to increased insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels. Proper stress management is another biohacking trick to better manage your glucose levels.
Here are several stress management techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine to avoid stress:
- Yoga and deep breathing exercises
- Warm bath
- Book reading
- Listening to soothing music
- Spending time in nature
4. Have a Good Night’s Sleep
When you don't get enough sleep, your body can become more resistant to insulin, the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Poor sleep also makes you more vulnerable to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
In addition to affecting insulin sensitivity, lack of sleep can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can further contribute to insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, good sleep quality can help regulate hormones that affect your glucose and reduce your stress levels. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule to support optimal blood sugar management and overall health. Limit also your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the evening, to avoid disruption in your sleep patterns.
5. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves limiting food intake to specific periods of time, such as eating only during an 8-hour window each day. Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity and lead to remarkable reduction in blood sugar levels.
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting, one of the most popular is the 16/8 method. People on a 16/8 fasting will not consume meals for 16 hours to be followed by 2-3 meals during the remaining 8 hours. This type of fasting is easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Intentional efforts towards health and fitness can improve your overall well-being and lifespan. Implementing some of these lifestyle changes today can help you become a healthier version of yourself. So why not take some meaningful steps towards a healthier you?
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