Do you struggle with your weight, fatigue or insomnia? Do you have food cravings, or are you hungry all the time? These are just a few symptoms of unstable blood sugar, which can lead to pre-diabetes and then diabetes. My wish for you is to have vibrant health, and to feel and look great, and have strategies to create that in your life. Today I wanted to talk about how vital it is to have healthy blood sugar, and how that is a key ingredient in creating vibrant health and hormones…….
Why Healthy Blood Sugar means a Healthy Body and Healthy Hormones
- One of the things you hear in health news all the time now is how diabetes and obesity are linked to health problems. Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans has either pre-diabetes or diabetes? Pretty shocking, and we can blame it on our highly processed, high sugar diets. Yes, that’s right, it’s the sugar and not the fat that’s the problem.
- Back in the 1980’s we were told (based on faulty research that became government policy) that fat was the culprit causing heart disease. The result is that 3 decades later that Americans are the heaviest and unhealthiest they have ever been. When fat was removed from the diet it was replaced with sugar, processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and high carbohydrate natural foods, such as bread, rice, corn and potatoes. All off these foods turn to sugar in the body, just as if you ate a candy bar.
- So what you want is to have even blood sugar levels throughout the day. You also want your blood sugar levels to be within a certain range. Eating too much sugar, refined carbohydrates, grains and fructose can cause your blood sugar to raise and lower, or spike, dramatically, and that’s what causes health problems. That even includes the “healthy” whole grains you are being told to eat, yes, it will turn to sugar in your body.
Here are the benefits of keeping your blood sugar levels even:
- You will feel better throughout the day, and can avoid the “afternoon slump” that has you reaching for a candy bar or soda
- You will sleep better
- You won’t be hungry all the time
- It can be part of a strategy to normalize your weight
- You can avoid diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer
How do blood sugar levels affect your hormones? Remember the statistic about 1 in 4 Americans having either pre-diabetes or diabetes? another shocking statistic is that many of these people don’t even know they have this condition! So if you have unstable blood sugar, pre-diabetes or diabetes then here is how it can affect your hormones:
- When your blood sugar is unstable it will go up too high, and then maybe too low, or just stay too high. Your body compensates for this by releasing cortisol, from your adrenal glands, which is a stress response hormone. In this condition your body is under stress from unstable blood sugar, and cortisol helps to smooth it out. But if too much cortisol is released for too long you can lose your cortisol reserves
- Having high cortisol for prolonged periods will deplete hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, since cortisol basically “steals” these hormones to make more cortisol. This means and increase in hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and low libido
- Eventually cortisol output can go from high to low, and now your adrenal glands are burning out and not producing enough cortisol. This is when you not only do you have the hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, low libido, but now also chronic fatigue and depression
What to do? Tips on lowering and keeping your blood sugar even:
- Cut out the things that obviously have sugar and fructose, such as processed and packaged foods, and sweet foods like candy, desserts, and sodas. Read labels, you will be surprised by how much sugar certain foods contain. Yogurt, while seen as a healthy food, is usually very high in sugar (unless you are buying the plain sugarless version which most people are not)
- Limit grain and wheat products since they can spike blood sugar, including corn, rice, and high sugar vegetables like white potatoes. Remember that even “healthy” whole grains convert to sugar just like a candy bar
- Low carbohydrate or Paleo type diets are the best way to control blood sugar
- Exercise is great at lowering insulin levels, so find something you enjoy and move your body every day
- How do you really know? It’s pretty easy to know by getting the right blood tests. You will want to know your fasting glucose and your HbA1c levels for a start, plus there are other tests that can be run based on your personal and family health history
- Work with a Functional Medicine specialist to discover and then treat any blood sugar imbalances. In my chiropractic and acupuncture practice I use Functional Medicine to help patients optimize their health with a comprehensive analysis and blood testing, and patients are really happy to get to the root of health problems this way.
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