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How Fermented Foods Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

How Fermented Foods Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

 

Keeping blood sugar levels stable and healthy can be a concern for many people, even for those who have not been diagnosed with diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that affects millions worldwide. Managing blood sugar levels and preventing up and down spikes is vital to feeling your best and avoiding potential health issues. Stable blood sugars help keep energy even, prevent excessive hunger (that “hangry feeling”), and may help with weight loss to decrease the risk of prediabetes and Type II diabetes.

For years, we’ve known that eating balanced meals is essential to help keep blood sugars in check, and that includes a balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins.  Choosing complex carbohydrates that are higher in fiber, along with protein and fat help slow sugar and carbohydrate absorption and keeps blood sugars stable until the next snack or meal.  Avoiding too many highly refined, processed carbohydrates and foods found in certain shelf-stable products will also help manage blood sugar levels. In addition, research shows that our gut microbiome and fermented foods may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  Other lifestyle factors that play a part include staying active, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and managing stress.

How Fermented Foods, including Kefir, Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Research continues to show that eating fermented foods, such as Lifeway kefir, may help manage healthy blood sugar (glucose) levels and reduce inflammation markers.  Studies have shown that consumption of one cup of kefir daily decreased fasting blood glucose and HbA1C levels, as well as decreased inflammatory cytokines.  It is theorized that the probiotics affect the gut bacteria to release hormones that enhance the release of insulin and encourage the uptake of glucose into muscle, thus lowering blood glucose levels.  The probiotics in kefir may also improve the intestinal barrier function and prevent what is known as a flow of lipopolysaccharides, or bacterial endotoxins, into the bloodstream, which contribute to inflammation and an increased risk of Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lifeway kefir and farmer cheese are also both sources of complete protein and healthy fats, so they’re an easy way to help maintain blood sugar at any meal or snack.

With all this in mind, we’d like to share three of our best tips for keeping blood sugar levels healthy and simple ways to incorporate kefir and farmer cheese into your day!

Our Top 3 Tips to Manage Blood Sugar Throughout the Day

 

1. At Bedtime: Stick to a Normal Sleep Schedule and Have a Light Bedtime Snack

A normal sleep schedule is essential to managing blood sugar levels. Sleeping too long or less than the body needs (less than 7-8 hours for most people) can cause blood sugar levels to become out of balance. If going to bed at night is a struggle, set an alarm to wind down for bed. If you find yourself hungry before bed, don’t be afraid to have a small, nutrient-rich snack that has a balance of protein and fiber, and avoid sugary snacks that can upset your blood sugar levels and keep you awake. Find foods that help you relax, such as kefir, a natural source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, the hormone that aids in relaxation and a healthy mood.

A great nighttime snack option is some frozen berries with Lifeway Kefir drizzled over the top like a “cereal”, sprinkled with flax meal and/or ground chia seeds.  For extra fiber or some crunch, top with a low or no-sugar-added cereal. You can also enjoy a small bowl of oatmeal, which is high in whole grain fiber, and use kefir with or on top of that.

 

2. In the Morning: Wake Up at the Same Time, Get Some Movement In, and Eat a Healthy, Balanced Breakfast

When you wake up in the morning, try to do a little movement, even if it’s just light stretching or any natural movement to help get the body moving. This process naturally supports healthy blood sugar levels. After you’ve gotten yourself together, have a balanced breakfast. A great option is overnight oats made the night before with Lifeway Kefir, or a simple smoothie with Lifeway Kefir, frozen berries, a handful of greens, and your favorite powders (protein powder, collagen, superfoods, a greens powder, flax meal, chia, etc.). Sprinkle some nuts or pumpkin or hemp seeds over the top for extra nutrition. All these foods have a healthy balance of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent spikes.  Check out all our smoothies and breakfast options if you’re looking for recipes to try!

 

3. In the Afternoon: Have a Healthy Snack to Prevent a Dip in Blood Sugar Levels and Avoid Overeating at Dinner

Afternoons can be challenging for many people when it comes to blood sugar levels. This is a prime snack time for many, and it’s all too easy to turn to high-fat chips, sugary cookies, or drive-thru options. For a healthy snack, remember you want something that has a little protein, complex carbs, and a touch of healthy fats so your blood sugar levels stay balanced. Snacks can be a great way to avoid blood sugar dips that can lead to overeating later. Some options that are winners for stable blood sugar levels are as simple as a piece of whole grain toast or crackers with some farmer cheese and some veggies or fruit, or a small smoothie with greens, protein, and Lifeway Kefir.  See some of our favorite snacks for more healthy options.

Be sure to check us out on Instagram for more healthy recipes if you’re looking to manage blood sugar levels in a healthy way. We look forward to sharing our recipes with you and encourage you to follow along!

Reference Studies:

Bellikci-Koyu E, Sarer-Yurekli BP, Karagozlu C, Aydin-Kose F, Ozgen AG, Buyuktuncer Z. Probiotic kefir consumption improves serum apolipoprotein A1 levels in metabolic syndrome patients: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Nutr Res. 2022 Jun;102:59-70.
Salari A, Ghodrat S, Gheflati A, Jarahi L, Hashemi M, Afshari A. Effect of kefir beverage consumption on glycemic control: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021 Aug;44:101443.
Ostadrahimi A, Taghizadeh A, Mobasseri M, Farrin N, Payahoo L, Beyramalipoor Gheshlaghi Z, Vahedjabbari M. Effect of probiotic fermented milk (kefir) on glycemic control and lipid profile in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Iran J Public Health. 2015 Feb;44(2):228-37.
Azizi NF, Kumar MR, Yeap SK, Abdullah JO, Khalid M, Omar AR, Osman MA, Mortadza SAS, Alitheen NB. Kefir and Its Biological Activities. Foods. 2021 May 27;10(6):1210.