What’s the Deal on Fluctuating Blood Sugars?
One of the most persistent problems that my patients tell me about when they come in for their first visit is a lack of energy, sometimes followed by explosive bursts of temper, foggy thinking, and other unpleasant effects from eating a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates.
Now, these people didn’t come to me to correct their low energy, or quick temper, and often they don’t even know there is a connection between the way they feel and what they eat.
But the connection is clear. These patients are on a daily fun-house ride that seems painfully slow at times, then explosively fast at others.
In medicine, we know this to be the result of fluctuating blood sugars. You eat pancakes for breakfast, with syrup, you feel like a million until about 10 am when all of a sudden you find yourself sweaty, cranky, irritable and sometimes even faint.
So what do you do? Grab a donut and a cup of coffee? I hope not, but that’s often the answer. Then the fun house starts all over again, ultimately plunging you into a dark, scary place which feels like you’ll never get out.
What most of these patients came to see me about is overweight and obesity. Many of them have tried punishing diets with almost no protein or fat, often vegetarian, and with such low calories that their body is thrown into a tantrum of fluctuating blood sugars.
The Dangers of Blood Sugar Fluctuation
A low level of blood sugar, referred to as hypoglycemia, results in an inadequate supply of glucose to the brain and leads to a considerable amount of malfunction. Hypoglycemia can cause a number unpleasant symptoms including fatigue, weakness, dizziness, inability to concentrate, poor memory, anxiety, depression, irritability, heart palpitations and excessive sweating. It can even cause comas and seizures.
On the other end of the spectrum, a high level of blood sugar is referred to as hyperglycemia and is one of the key symptoms of diabetes. Hyperglycemia can cause similar symptoms to hypoglycemia such as fatigue, inability to concentrate, anxiety and depression. However, it can also cause shortness of breath, nausea, dry mouth, and in severe cases, can even cause comas, nerve damage and blindness.
Blood sugar fluctuation puts a significant demand on the glands responsible for regulating it and this burden is one of the major reasons why fluctuating blood sugar is such a serious health concern. It’s widely recognized as the cause of type 2 diabetes and is also associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
How the Body Responds to Blood Sugar Fluctuation
High levels of blood sugar trigger the pancreas to respond in emergency like fashion by quickly releasing a large amount of insulin. By facilitating the transport of blood glucose into cells and the conversion of excess blood glucose into body fat, the presence of insulin causes blood sugar to drop. However, the large amount of insulin often causes too much glucose to be removed from the blood and results in a state of hypoglycemia.
The excessive drop in blood sugar creates another state of emergency and stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol. This increases blood sugar to a desirable level by facilitating the creation of glucose from body fat and muscle tissue, and also by stimulating the liver to create glucose from it’s storage of glycogen.
While the mechanisms involved in blood sugar regulation provide us with an invaluable source of protection, they also put a significant physiological burden on the body. The continuous demand put on the pancreas to produce excessive amounts of insulin is what eventually leads to type 2 diabetes. In similar fashion, the recurring need for the adrenal glands to produce cortisol can compromise their capacity as well and result in adrenal fatigue.
Although adrenal fatigue is not as widely recognized as diabetes, it can be equally problematic and result in susceptibility to significant health problems. Furthermore, any type of adrenal stimulation, including low blood sugar, invokes the universal stress response that is so frequently associated with poor health.
Tips for Regulating Blood Sugar
One of the best things you can do for your health is to keep your blood sugar at a relatively consistent level. The following tips will help to spare your body from the significant burden of blood sugar fluctuation and will help you maintain a steady mood and energy level while making your weight loss program both possible and pleasant.
• Choose The Silver Cloud Diet as your bible. This will give you a step-by-step instruction for regulating your blood sugars while you lose weight.
• Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet, or keep them to an absolute minimum. If you have any excess body fat, this will help you lose weight in addition to keeping your blood sugar stabilized.
• Minimize your intake of caffeine. Drink lemon water instead.
• Follow a consistent eating schedule, with 5 small meals a day and try not to go more than 4 hours without a meal.
• Some fruits and vegetables can cause blood sugar fluctuation just as easily as processed foods.