Have you heard about blood sugars? Sometimes referred to as blood glucose, it is a term that is most often used in the context of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Perhaps, you’ve heard the blah term ‘blood sugar control’ and figured that it doesn’t apply to you. But did you know that as of January 2020, the CDC estimates that approximately 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes and they don’t even know it? That’s 1 in 3 people.
It can feel challenging to get informed and take action about a condition that you may or may not have now or could develop sometime in the future – it seems so uncertain! We all lead busy lives and it is hard to prioritize something that doesn’t feel tangible or relevant to the here and now. However, if you’re anything like me, this past year has helped me to realize the importance of my health in a way unlike ever before. Managing blood sugars is a part of this.
Here is the big why: when blood sugars are unstable over a long period of time, they start to do damage to our blood vessels (increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and blood pressure), to our nerves (causing blindness, peripheral neuropathy, and may even result in amputation) and to our organs (most commonly the kidneys). You may also recognize some of these conditions in the end stages of diabetes. There are serious impacts.
But did you know that blood sugar stability can also impact how your body responds to the stress hormone cortisol? This means it has implications for many other processes in the body, including inflammation and immune function. As you may have guessed, it can also influence weight management. Having unstable blood sugar control over long periods of time is now thought to be a contributing factor for some types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
To top it all off, your brain relies heavily on stable fueling in order to keep cognitive processes working well: thinking clearly, making good decisions, and helping the body stay out of the fight-or-flight mode.
The less physiological stress your body experiences, the better your body will be able to:
- Have a properly functioning immune system
- Rest (yes, a good night’s sleep can be influenced by stable fuel during the day. Getting adequate sleep is critical for the brain’s’ self-cleaning mode – the only time the brain is able to go through deep, restorative processes is during sleep)
- Have the energy to do all the things you want to do, in addition to all the things you have to do.
- Control cravings to support a healthy relationship with food.
To see the benefit of stable blood sugar in action, try this experiment: for the next 3 days, eat every 3 hours. It doesn’t need to be a whole meal – just a small snack. Not only that, but eat protein every three hours and see if there is any difference in how you think, how you make decisions, how you feel, how you manage your emotions, how you sleep, how you exercise, how your food cravings ‘behave’.
The easiest changes to make are those that are right in front of you and are the most accessible. We humans, while easily susceptible to everyday worries, are not as goal-oriented when it comes to taking action against a long-term risk. Which is why having an accountability partner, be it your best friend, your spouse or your nutritionist, is paramount to creating healthy habits and sticking to them.
We would be glad to help you on the journey to better health. Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists today to set small, actionable steps in the direction of better health.
Interested in learning more? Schedule an appointment with Heather to get support on your future journey to body and mind health.
|Written by nutritionist, blood sugar management specialist and health coach, Heather Brummer, MS, CN, LAc|