How Does Food Affect Your Blood?

Eat a balanced diet to balance your blood glucose levels.

Eat a balanced diet to balance your blood glucose levels.

You are what you eat, and that goes for your blood as well. The food you is eat is digested and absorbed into your bloodstream, where it is transported to the organs, tissues and cells. Your nutrition also triggers what hormones and other chemicals are released into your blood and help form the blood cells themselves. Eating foods that are high in fats or contain additives also affects the makeup of your blood and your overall health.

Glucose Levels

If you feel hungry again shortly after snacking on a chocolate bar, your blood glucose levels may be low. This happens because sugary and starchy foods cause a spike in your blood glucose, leading to a high release of insulin, the hormone that transports glucose into your cells where it can be used. Too much insulin in your bloodstream causes a drop in your glucose levels, making you feel hungry and fatigued. The University of Illinois advises that eating complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, vegetables and fruit and eating smaller meals throughout the day can help balance your blood glucose levels.

Cholesterol

Your blood cholesterol levels are important indicators of your overall health. While some types of fats are good for your body, eating foods that are rich in saturated and trans fats can raise your unhealthy cholesterol levels. High levels of harmful LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The American diet is overindulgent in fat-rich foods such as red meat, organ meat, fried chicken, butter, margarine, french fries, cakes, donuts, cookies and chips. The Harvard School of Public Health warns that high cholesterol may be linked to more than 200,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

Iron

The foods you eat are digested and absorbed into your bloodstream, which carries nutrients to every part of your body to help build and repair cells. Iron is a food nutrient that helps form your red blood cells. This mineral is needed to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that binds and transports oxygen. You need iron from your diet to prevent low red blood cell levels and conditions such as anemia, which causes fatigue and weakness. Add iron-rich foods to your diet such as red meat, fish, eggs, beans, spinach, broccoli, dates, raisins and fortified cereals. The World Health Organization notes that almost 2 billion people are iron deficient globally. Pregnant women and growing children are particularly at risk of low iron levels.

Food Additives

The typical American diet contains high amounts of processed, packaged and fast foods, which contain additives to preserve them and enhance taste, smell, texture and color. These include foods such as processed meats, burgers, french fries, soups, cereals, soda, beverages, ice cream, biscuits, cakes and candies. These additives are artificial chemicals that circulate in your bloodstream and may have harmful effects. A study published in the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons" reported that food additives can accumulate to toxic levels in the brain, damaging brain cells and increasing the risk of migraines, seizures, learning disorders and Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases. Eating whole and fresh foods such as citrus fruits, berries, beans, whole grains and green leafy vegetables help to combat the effects of these food additives and repair damaged cells.

 

About the Author

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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