Managing Blood Sugar for Better Health
As we move closer to the Scary Season I thought it would be helpful to remind ourselves about how damaging the impact of dysregulated Blood Glucose and Insulin Spikes can be to our health. I also wanted to touch on six other factors to consider.
We talk a lot in the office about how good health means keeping your blood glucose and insulin stable. We also talk a lot about how diet can affect this roller coaster which if not kept in check can lead to a whole host of disease states. However there are other factors that also can cause glucose spikes and insulin resistance.
Before we jump into this week’s blog I just want to say that: As a Functional Doctor I always check insulin, A1C and glucose when we do basic labs. Why? Some folks have glucose numbers in range or below range, however their insulin levels are high! If you are struggling with consistent energy levels and suspect insulin issues and want to dig deeper please Contact me.
Here are six factors to consider
1. Exercise and Blood Sugar
Exercise provides both short-term and long-term metabolic health benefits. In the short term, it helps move glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells, which is why doing moderate exercise after eating can help blunt a blood sugar spike.
Which exercise to do? Honestly, just move your body. Yoga, resistance training, HIIT training, lower intensity “zone 2” training, and walking all have metabolic benefits. Don’t overthink it and do it everyday! Consistency is the key and it is also an act of self love/care.
When you’re active, your muscles take in glucose immediately. Although they can access stored glucose (glycogen), they also take it in from your bloodstream. Exercise makes your cells more sensitive to insulin and improves the movement of sugar into cells by boosting the number of glucose transporters on the lining of cells (GLUT4 channels).
In the long term, regular physical activity increases the number of muscle cells, which means more mitochondria to turn glucose into energy. Yeah! We all want more energy and to keep the level of energy consistent throughout the day. BTW It is never too late to start! Don’t have enough time? Studies show walking for 1-2 minutes every half hour was as effect as one walk for 30 minutes.
One of hacks Jessie Inchauspé the author The Glucose Revolution speaks too: Move for 10 minutes after you eat your evening meal to reduce the spikes.
2. Stress and Blood Sugar
We talked a lot about Stress … Incase you missed it.
Stress prompts a hormonal response that increases glucose levels. When you’re feeling frazzled, angry, or panicked, your body may ready itself to fight off a threat by mobilizing ample glucose in your bloodstream for your muscles to use. To increase blood glucose, your body releases more adrenaline, cortisol, and glucagon, and consequently, your cells become insulin resistant. That’s why research shows a link between perceived work-related stress and increased levels of circulating glucose.
Chronic stress may lead to prolonged insulin resistance because your body is frequently coping with elevated levels of cortisol. In addition, many people overeat or choose less-healthy foods and drinks when they’re stressed, which can cause further elevate glucose levels.
If you have a sense that your mental and physical well-being could be better, and you’re not quite sure why things are off, I’d guess that there’s toxic or chronic stress or unresolved trauma in your orbit. It’s there for most of us.
I believe that one of our jobs is to identify and work on these elements of our lives, and ultimately, heal them. Tactics like diaphragmatic breathing and meditation can be incredibly helpful. Slowing things down and being present in this moment is one of the tools I use to see what thoughts are driving my actions.
My favorite herbal formula to help modulate the stress response is Ashwagandha Forte.
3. Sleep and Blood Sugar
Research shows that sleep quantity and quality are vital for optimal metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and glucose variability.
When you sleep, your body also produces balanced amounts of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that impact appetite and satiety. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you may produce too much ghrelin. That can indirectly lead to higher glucose levels by prompting you to overeat. And research has shown that people who are sleep-deprived often crave sweets and starches.
Lack of sleep can also increase inflammation, which contributes to insulin resistance, leaving blood glucose levels elevated. Additionally, lack of sleep increases levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker in the blood.
Things You Can Do:
Prioritize getting enough quality sleep, and keep yourself accountable. How much sleep you need is individual, but research indicates seven to eight hours is optimal for metabolic health. Set boundaries around your sleep time no matter how busy you feel and turn off the devices to set up at least 30 minutes of quiet time before bed. You could also add some herbal support like Kava or Magnesium to help you relax a little. The nervous system needs this time to repair and rejuvenate.
4. Microbiome and Blood Sugar
Your gut microbiome refers to all the microbes (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live in your intestinal tract. We want to strive for microbiome diversity, as it plays a critical role in metabolic health and keeping blood glucose stable.
It is a vicious circle… if your diet lacks fiber or diversity then these microbes can become a problem and overtime cause GI issues. They don’t go away easily either, they love carbs, fructose and sugar… You know that foggy brain… Yep it is the Gut talking..
Things You Can Do:
Optimize your diet for gut health by taking in more probiotic fermented foods like sauerkraut or artichokes and add prebiotics (the fiber and polyphenol rich foods to feed your microbiome). I am always saying .. ” have two cereal bowls of Veggies/ green leaves/ herbs per day and top it off with some fermented foods!”
Adding a Digestive enzymes can also be helpful. You want to make sure you can absorb all that good food you are eating. I think Enzycore and Multizyme from SP and Enzymix Pro from my Fullscript account.
5. Sun Light and Blood Sugar
Just as food is molecular information for our bodies, sunlight is energetic information that tells our brains and cells how to function. Our eyes are the brain’s access port to natural light.
Less exposure to sunlight is also linked to lower serotonin levels, which can negatively impact mood. Serotonin also plays a role in metabolic regulation and related diseases. Increased serotonin signaling appears to help decrease appetite and improve glucose control.
Things You Can Do:
Aim to get a dose of sunlight, even just a few minutes, first thing in the morning, if possible. Window glass blocks a significant amount of light, according to Stanford neurobiologist Andrew Huberman, PhD, ( one of my favorite Podcasts. “The Huberman Lab”) so try to actually get outdoors.
If your Vitamin D levels are low: Take a high quality supplement to get those levels up to not support metabolic health but also your hormone and immune health. Take with fat and a digestive enzyme for better absorption.
6. Environmental toxins
This one is a biggie, so listen up! The chemicals and toxins you eat, breathe, and are exposed to can impact your metabolic health in a massive way. There’s even a term for this now: “obesogens” are metabolism-disrupting chemicals in the environment that directly increase fat mass. I know that none of us want that right?
These chemicals are found everywhere in our products: can linings, receipts, vinyl flooring, all plastics (even if BPA-free), personal care products (like shampoo, sunscreens, perfume, lotion and makeup), food preservatives, many drugs (including antidepressants), clothing (polyester is made of plastic), nonstick cookware, furniture, flame retardants, mattresses, toys, electronics, home disinfectants, air pollution, and pesticides.
Changes you can choose to make:
- Avoid chemical exposure by choosing real foods that are minimal processed. Even if it sounds like Organic, Natural etc .. do your home work and check the label.
- Minimize plastic use and opt for glass or other materials for storing kitchen, household, and personal care items.
- Filter your air and water. Both have been shown to have a positive clinical effect.
- Certain supplements may also be protective, like Cataplex C, Curcumin, Minerals and Resveratrol.
- Get into nature and fresh air often.
Managing Glucose and Insulin for Better Health
Changes can be challenging and they can also be liberating: Letting go of something that does not serve you is so empowering.
You can build these into your lifestyle over time by making them good habits. Repetition builds an intentional routine, which is what forms a habit. So set aside time after a meal to go for that walk. Eventually you will head out the door without even thinking about it.
Many of you know I really like the book Atomic Habits as a great motivator for fitting more healthy habits into life.
Lastly, slow down and take a minute to recognize what you are thinking and how are you feeling when you make a choice for yourself…The choice you make today has an impact on your tomorrow!
I want to make sure you know I do not think that one piece or two of candy is bad… and I am not a party pooper LOL … You just should do it often and not too much at one sitting.
Have a healthy week and as always I am here to empower and educate.