A lot of people mistakenly think that only diabetics need to worry about their blood sugar. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
We ALL need to think about and manage our blood sugar and I’ll tell you why.
But first let me just break down the basics about what blood sugar is and where it comes from in super simple terms.
Blood Sugar 101
Our body digests carbohydrates: (grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes) and turns that food into a simple sugar called glucose which us our body’s preferred source of energy. The glucose goes straight from the digestive system into the bloodstream after we have consumed and digested food. Glucose can only enter cells if there is insulin in the bloodstream too. Insulin is a hormone secreted from the pancreas that basically holds the door open for glucose to enter our cells and do its work. Without any insulin the cells would starve.
Blood Sugar Roller Coaster 101
When we spike our blood sugar/blood glucose with refined carbs, stimulants and stress we begin the blood sugar roller coaster. This is basically how it works: a severe spike in blood sugar causes a flood of insulin from the pancreas to rush in to help shuttle the all that glucose from the blood into our body cells where it can be used for energy. This exaggerated insulin response can often causes too much glucose to leave the bloodstream and into the cells and can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Obviously, the cellular biology of blood glucose is extremely complex. I’m just giving you the “Coles Notes” version to help you understand why balancing our blood sugar is so important. So, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let me get back to letting you know why we all need to work on balancing our blood sugar on the regular.
Our brains need glucose to function
Anxiety, irritability, fatigue can all be caused by unbalanced blood sugar since glucose is the only fuel normally used by brain cells. Because neurons cannot store glucose, they depend on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel: read “balanced” supply. We don’t want to be riding the blood sugar roller coaster because the lows starve the brain of its primary fuel source. When the brain isn’t getting enough glucose we can experience fatigue, confusion, anxiety, irritability.
Cravings and weight gain
Due to the above-mentioned reactive blood sugar lows, our body will want to consume more sugar/carbs quickly. This partially explains some of those cravings you have for carbs and sweets (especially in the afternoon, you know the ones). More cravings lead to crappy food choices and eventually weight gain. Think about that daily craving you might have around 3pm for a coffee and a sweet. That all adds up. In fact, I talk all about how to manage those afternoon crashes and coffee/sweet breaks in this video.
Excess sugar feeds bad bacteria & weakens the immune system
Simply put, fibre feeds the good stuff and sugar feeds bad bacteria and yeast so you don’t want too much of it hanging around. Candida and pathogenic bacteria are very opportunistic and will gobble up those excess sugars and multiply and thrive. Imbalances in our gut microbes (aka: dysbiosis) is at the heart of many of our modern day illnesses like suppressed immunity, depression and anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, skin disruptions like eczema, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and others.
Belly fat/visceral fat
When we have too much glucose (we’ve met all our energy needs and stored all that we can store) the rest…gets stored as fat. And – as a double whammy – all that extra insulin running amok in our systems encourages us to hold on to this fat (especially around the belly) and thus begins the vicious cycle. When this happens for too long, our cells eventually develop a resistance to insulin and the glucose can’t even get into the cells and so just circulates in our blood. That’s called insulin resistance or Type 2 Diabetes.
Weakened immune system
Sugar not only paralyzes our lovely white blood cells from working their magic as part of our immune system – it also causes an imbalance in gut bacteria (as mentioned above) and this also impairs our immunity because 70-80% of our immune system is found in the gut! You heard me right. Your body is a complex ecosystem made up of more than 100 trillion microbes that must be properly balanced and cared for if you are to be healthy. Balancing your blood sugar is a good way to love your microbiome.
Inflammation and disease
Elevated blood sugar leads to inflammation. Inflammation leads to disease. Blood sugar spikes from highly refined carbs (like white bread, white rice, french fries, POP etc.) increases levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, contributes to leaky gut and can lead to allergies, autoimmune conditions and eventually disease.
I realized I have just become a fear monger.
I don’t mean to be all doom-and-gloom, but as you can see this is serious stuff with serious consequences.
Have I convinced you yet?
So, break out the flax crackers, nuts and seeds, hummus and broccoli and let’s get that blood sugar sorted!
I’m here to help. Let me know if you have any questions.