Blood Sugar Regulation: Your Key to Health!
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
All this month, we are going to be breaking down my approach to nutrition. We've covered this in the past, but there is always room for more information and a new way to present it!
We are kicking things off today with an overview about blood sugar regulation, which is extremely important when tackling ANY health issue, even if you don't have diabetes or don't think you have a blood sugar regulation problem (you probably do!).
In the weeks to come, we'll cover the components that make up blood sugar regulation (protein, fat, and carbs), as well as go through my favorite convenience food brands to help you find healthy alternatives amongst the thousands of "healthy" options at the store.
Having erratic blood sugar levels can lead to troubles with sleep, sugar cravings, mood, energy, exercise progress, weight loss, digestion, and hormones. Plus, who wants to have energy slumps every day at mid-morning or mid-afternoon? There's also new evidence coming forward that is connecting your blood sugar levels to neurological health too. Some are even calling Alzheimer's Type III Diabetes! All the more reason to get your blood sugar on track, no matter your current state of health.
Let's go through the process of blood sugar regulation:
When we eat any form of carbohydrate (apple, poptart, bread, doesn't matter!), our body breaks it down into glucose - a usable form of energy for the body (otherwise known as sugar). Our body then senses that there are glucose molecules in the blood stream. This signals to the pancreas to release insulin, a storage hormone.
Insulin comes to the scene, "grabs" onto a glucose molecule, and takes it to a cell "door." Insulin knocks on the door of the cell, and if there is room for storage in the cell, insulin acts as the "key" to unlock the door to the cell so the glucose can be stored for later use. Glucose that is stored is called glycogen, and glucose is typically stored in cells in the liver and muscles (this is why it is advantageous to have more lean muscle mass on our bodies!).
This process works efficiently to ensure glucose doesn't float around in our blood stream longer than it should, which is stressful and inflammatory for the body over time.
However, there are a number of ways that this process can get off track, leading to the blood sugar regulation issues we discussed before.
First, if we have desensitized insulin receptors, insulin will not come to the scene when glucose is present meaning that glucose stays in the blood stream longer than is ideal as the body tries harder and harder to "get ahold" of insulin to come do its job. This desensitized insulin response over time leads to insulin resistance, diabetes, and hormone issues like PCOS.
Second, if our cells in the liver and muscles are full, even if insulin is working properly, insulin will have to keep trying cell after cell to find storage. Again, this means that glucose is in the blood stream longer than is ideal which is stressful and inflammatory. Eventually if insulin can't find a cell for storage, it will convert the glucose to triglycerides and store it as fat on the body. This is why it is good to have more muscle mass on the body AND why eating dietary fat won't necessarily make us fat - excess sugar and carbs will.
These blood sugar issues in the short term (one day or so) aren't much of a problem. What IS a problem is the cumulative effects that build up over weeks, months, years, and decades. When we are younger, we can often get by with minor blood sugar issues, but as we get older and the stressors we have been exposed to increase, this ability gets worse and worse.
The short term effects of dysregulated blood sugar are:
Weight gain/weight loss resistance
Cravings, especially for sugar
The long term effects of dyregulated blood sugar are:
Type II Diabetes
Inflammation and joint pain
Anxiety and depression
Weight gain/weight loss resistance
The bottom line: we ALL need to work on blood sugar regulation, and it starts with the foods we eat!
In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing more about each of the three macronutrients - protein, fat, and carbs - as well as sharing my favorite cleaner brands and products that promote PFC balanced eating and support a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
As always, if you want to schedule an in person or phone free 15 minute nutrition consult, you can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule!
You can find a complete PFC balanced guide + my favorite brands list here.