A lot of people don’t realise they may have a blood sugar issue. It can be really interesting when you start looking at some of the indicators which show that we need to focus on balancing our blood sugars, because if they aren’t balanced then we can have a whole lotta issues with cortisol!
Some key indicators can be:
- Waking up during the night feeling hungry or anxious
- Sleep issues, including multiple wake-ups to urinate
- Excess belly fat
- Craving carbs or sweets
- Feeling hangry when you haven’t eaten
- Feeling constantly tired or fatigued
- Brain fog, especially combined with anxiety.
Why do these symptoms appear and what can we do about it? A number of reasons and a number of ways we can start to reduce this.
One symptom is the link between blood sugar and cortisol – our fight or flight hormone. We need to utilise glucose under stress so that (historically) we could run from tigers. And when we don’t have enough of this, we catabolise other things in our body. This often leads to adrenal fatigue, anxiety and other mood issues.
Now if our blood sugars are way too high (not talking about diabetics here) then our body isn’t able to uptake the glucose in our blood and takes it into our cells. So if it is high for a long period of time, we start to see insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes. It exacerbates the inability to lose weight so then you become weight loss resistant – it really comes down to balancing your blood sugars before focusing on weight loss. It is also exacerbated in PCOS, especially if it androgren or blood sugar driven.
Higher blood sugar levels can also go hand in hand with higher estrogen levels in the body, which can disrupt the estrogen/progesterone balance in the body as well.
We can often tell ourselves that what we are using to prop ourselves up in the afternoon is somewhat ‘healthy’ but realistically, if we are reaching for sweets or carbs we really need to start looking at our blood sugar cycles – why it’s happening, how frequently it’s happening, where are the highs and the crashes, how is sleep, etc.
Another prop up can be coffee. It can cause a huge imbalance to your blood sugar levels, especially when it comes to your adrenals. Coffee is metabolised in our liver and there can be quite a fine balance as to whether your body can handle it or not. The amount of caffeine you have is something to definitely look at if you have blood sugar issues.
Now here’s a controversial one – fasting. I’m not a huge fan, especially if you have hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. Fasting tends to elevate your morning cortisol levels and we definitely don’t want a huge spike of this. I prefer to steer my patients towards a set eating window, but again, it depends on where you’re at with your hormones.
Another issue is not getting enough sleep. We need that good balance of the amount of hours sleep that works for us as an individual, but on average it is 7-8 hours of restful sleep.
Alcohol is another culprit. I personally don’t drink, but women in my age group (45-64) are statistically the biggest drinkers. We have a glass of wine or two, or a couple of gin and tonics after work to wind down and don’t think anything of it. But it can really mess with your blood sugar levels, dysregulates sleep, turns off your digestion and puts additional load on the liver.
Next we need to look at our packaged food intake. Do we really know what goes into these? We need to focus on increasing our wholefoods, our vegetables and meats, proteins that don’t come in a packet.
Mineral balancing and looking at your acid/alkaline state is another important factor in blood sugar regulation, as well as gut health in regards to digestion and absorption of your nutrients.
Managing stress is a huge factor in blood sugar balancing. Remember what I mentioned earlier about our cortisol being our fight or flight response? We definitely don’t want to stay in that state – our blood sugars will be all over the place. There are so many ways to manage stress – go sit outside in the sun, go for a walk, meditate, or do an active meditation (being mindful whilst being active). The bonus in managing stress is also sleeping better at night.
Who remembers when it was advised to eat low fat?! This is a definite no-no when balancing blood sugars, as we need to fat to stabilise our hunger and even bring ourselves into a ketosis state to burn our stored fat.
Wow, what a list hey. So as you can see balancing blood sugars can be a delicate and intricate process, combining so many aspects of both your diet and lifestyle.
What could you change today out of the list above? What small steps can you take to start balancing your blood sugars again? Because by taking action on the above, not only will you make a difference to your weight and mental health, but to the health of your hormones as well.