Blood sugar regulation is fundamental to life. Our body’s innate intelligence continually monitors the amount of glucose in our bloodstream to maintain balance. Too much or too little triggers the release of hormones to return glucose levels to normal.
There are 4 big ideas for blood sugar regulation.
1. There are three main organs involved in blood sugar regulation, the pancreas, liver, and adrenals.
• Every time you eat sugar of any kind, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin. Insulin increases the uptake of glucose by our muscle and fat cells, increases the amount of glycogen in our muscle and liver, increases fatty acid synthesis from excessive carbohydrates, and decreases fat breakdown and mobilization from our fat tissue. Eating several meals, a day, all high in sugar, puts the pancreas at risk of exhaustion. To decrease the amount of insulin being produced, it is important to slow it down by using alternate food sources such as protein and fats.
• The liver is the predominant organ responding to the signals indicating elevated blood sugar or low blood sugar. The liver stores glucose (sugar) as glycogen, produces glucose from glycogen for circulation, converts protein into glucose, and creates ketones. It’s a busy organ!
• And lastly, adrenal glands, which are most likely considered the back-up or emergency organ. The adrenal glands secrete the hormones cortisol and epinephrine which play a crucial role in increasing blood sugar levels when needed by telling the body to break down structures to release fat and protein into the blood.
2. Never before have we had the emergency need to lower blood sugar. The increased consumption of processed and refined foods, environmental toxicity, and stress created this unique and critical need. Within the last 60 years, we’ve seen a developing pandemic of elevated blood sugar levels that are wreaking havoc on every organ of the body, affecting our overall health, aggressively enabling degenerative diseases, shortening lifespans, and significantly reducing the quality of life in general.
3. Americans on average consume 160 pounds of sugar per year. Can you believe it? 160 POUNDS of sugar a year? In the early 1600’s sugar was a luxury item enjoyed mostly by the wealthy. Back in those days, the average sugar consumption was a few pounds per person per year. Sugar is everywhere now, and it’s affecting the health of our society.
4. Through adjustment of macronutrient ratios, (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins), an individual can create a balanced hormonal release and utilize macronutrient for energy. Ideally, we want to give the body small amounts of sugar from our diet, preferably converted from fats rather than large dumps of sugar from the consumption of refined carbohydrates. The human body is designed to use a balance of unrefined carbohydrates along with fats and proteins as our primary source of fuel. If we use the analogy of a fire when talking about energy sources, carbohydrates compare to kindling wood and fats compare to slow burning logs.
Blood sugar regulation is an extremely complex process in the body, and there are many levels of poor blood sugar that may ultimately lead to Type 2 Diabetes. However, it’s an area where one has the ability to change the outcome, at least with respect to Type 2 Diabetes.
If blood sugar regulation is not working efficiently, then optimal health cannot be achieved. Dysregulation disrupts all aspects of human physiology e.g. energy; integrity of tissues in every organ and blood vessel; hormonal balance; and brain health.
Here is a list of common issues and the signs associated with them.
• Compromised blood sugar regulation
• Common signs – Increased cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates, increased hunger and reduced satiation from meals, weight gain, increased blood sugar, impaired beta-oxidation of fat, difficulty burning fat for weight loss.
• Hyperinsulinemia & Reactive Hypoglycemia
• Common signs – Fatigue & low energy levels, strong cravings for caffeine and sweets, ravenous hunger, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, lightheaded, jittery or shaky between meals, sweating, headache.
• Insulin Resistance
• Common signs – Increased hunger, increased lethargy, brain fog, difficulty in focusing, increased weight gain, depression, and mood disorders,
• Metabolic Syndrome
• Common signs – Abdominal obesity, systemic inflammation, HbA1c > 5.5, high bp, high glucose fasting levels
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Common signs – Extreme hunger or thirst, persistent hunger after meals, frequent or increased urination, tingling in hands and feet, chronic, persistent fatigue, frequent infections.
I go into this topic in depth when working with clients, as you might understand by now, I am passionate about stopping this epidemic. I recently became a RESTART instructor. The RESTART course is a 5 week course. It’s a powerful way to give your body a vacation from sugar and processed foods. With a 3-week sugar detox built-in, the program focuses on how to use REAL FOOD to boost your energy, reduce inflammation and get rid of sugar and carb cravings.