Firstly, let me explain blood sugar. Blood sugar or blood glucose, as it is also known, is literally the amount of glucose in your blood. It is one the 5 markers of metabolic health. Metabolic health is, in the simplest terms, the state of balance the body maintains between storing fat and burning it for energy. Once this balance is disrupted, health is adversely affected. The other markers for metabolic health are your blood pressure, your waist circumference, your triglycerides (a type of harmful fat in the blood) and your HDL(high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level, which is the beneficial cholesterol carrying molecule. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is regarded as the “bad” cholesterol.
Glucose is required for energy by every cell in our body. If we don’t eat enough carbohydrates our bodies can make its own glucose by breaking down fat and protein – this is what the ketogenic diet does. Insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas, transporst the glucose in our blood to our liver to be stored and it is the job of the pancreas to maintain our blood glucose levels within a tight range. If the liver can’t take up all the glucose then it is stored as fat which is why insulin is sometimes called the fat storage hormone.
So what causes our blood glucose levels to rise? Not surprisingly, eating causes our blood sugar levels to rise, particularly sugar and refined carbs – you know, white bread, biscuits, cake, processed breakfast cereals etc
Eating these kind of foods leads to a spike in blood sugar and insulin is released in response. You may initially experience a burst of energy after eating these foods, but this burst is typically followed by a slump in energy. It can turn into a vicious cycle of eating for energy, followed by a slump, followed by eating for energy and so on. It is what is known as the blood sugar rollercoaster. When you experience a slump in energy, the body releases cortisol and adrenaline to address the blood sugar imbalance and as a result the liver releases more sugar into the blood. Meanwhile the cortisol generates powerful cravings for a sugary boost which drives you to the biscuit tin or a cup of coffee or a glass of wine – whatever you feel will give you the boost you crave! So it’s a double whammy in terms of your blood sugar levels.
I have just mentioned the two stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. Stress on its own can trigger a rise in our blood sugar levels which is why I bang on about how important it is to manage our stress and find ways to alleviate stress, particularly chronic stress. Prior to menopause most of our oestrogen is made by the ovaries but as this declines, we rely on oestrogen being made by our adrenal glands. However, if our adrenal glands are busy making cortisol because we are constantly stressed, oestrogen will instead be made by our fat cells and more glucose will be stored as abdominal fat or visceral fat. This fat can be really hard to shift because it is more related to your hormones than what you eat!
Continuous high blood sugar levels will eventually lead to insulin resistance. The cells of the body become resistant to insulin and the pancreas has to produce more and more to compensate. Blood glucose levels rise and after a while, type 2 diabetes may well be diagnosed. It is worth pointing out that we all respond to food and stress in different ways. Some people respond to eating sugar and refined carbs more than others which is why some people go on to develop diabetes and others do not. We are all unique individuals!
So, to sum up. The three reasons why managing you blood sugar is so important are:
- You will have more energy. Stable blood sugar levels mean we can avoid slumps in energy. What you eat will determine how much energy you have.
- You are less likely to put on weight around the middle. Abdominal fat is an indicator of visceral fat which is inflammatory.
- Your insulin levels will remain normal. You won’t develop insulin resistance and be a risk of type 2 diabetes.
In my next blog, I will talk about how we can manage our blood sugar levels. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more, please send me a message. You can contact me for a free discovery call here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to work with me, I have a couple of 1 to 1 coaching spots available. Please feel free to contact me to find out more.