Have you ever felt tired, irritable, moody, shaky, and gaining weight? There are underlying causes that you can control. During these times when so much is out of our control, it is comforting to know that some things are in your control.
When our mind and/or body experience dis-stress, it has a lot of work to do. Think of a tennis game when you are on the right side of the court and the other player hits it all the way over to the left, you have to run a distance fast to keep the ball in motion. Just as you barely catch your breath, the ball arrives all the way over on the left again. The game keeps going like that making you tired, irritable, and more. This leads to exhaustion and when you get burned out it’s like dropping the ball.
That is what it is like when you have blood sugar fluctuations.
First, determine if you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, daily, weekly, monthly or even occasionally. Taking stock of symptoms helps you understand what may be going on so you can address it.
- Mood swings
- Sudden hunger
- Food cravings
- Cravings for sweets
- Mental confusion
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision
- Cold hands and feet
- Outbursts of temper
- Loss of consciousness
These are symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation. Any problem with regulating blood sugar will cause the body to work hard to maintain balance. This is like a rough tennis match for the body, keeping the ball in the air is like trying to maintain blood sugar in the range necessary to function properly. If it is a constant struggle, you can overshoot and release more and more insulin to get the same effect because you can develop resistance. Instead of lowering blood sugar appropriately it lowers it too much and creates a viscous cycle. This is a major stress on the body and can lead to the following roller coaster ride of symptoms and effects. Let’s identify the triggers as well as the antidote so you can look and feel your best.
Here is what happens.
Low blood sugar does this:
- Cortisol released
- Decreased fat burning
- Increased sugar burning
- Increased belly fat
- Brain fog
It is followed by high blood sugar which causes this:
High blood sugar
- Release of insulin
- Storage of fat
- Decreased fat burning
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
Identify the Cause
Several factors can cause blood sugar dysregulation and addressing the cause is the key to getting back in balance. The Hypoglycemia Foundation has a questionnaire, and this is one of the questions that can help direct how to address the cause.
What events or foods do you think trigger hypoglycemia?
Check all that apply
- Skipping meals
- Certain foods or beverages.
Foods and beverages that are the most likely culprits are:
Circle all that apply
- breakfast cereal, pastries or doughnuts, juice or smoothies, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and coffee drinks, tea, or energy drinks, sweetened beverages like regular soda or flavored milk, diet beverages, processed snack foods, such as chips, crackers, or bars, candy, pasta, bread, white rice, sauces, spreads, dressings, or condiments (most contain sugar), whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or oats, starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, corn, or butternut squash, desserts, alcohol
Identify and Address Your Triggers
- Avoid skipping meals. Eat meals that have a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate to lower the rise in blood sugar. Whole, unprocessed foods are best. Avoid foods that are on the above list. Strive to eat more low glycemic index foods. The glycemic index is how fast blood sugar rises after eating. The higher the glycemic index, the faster the rise and the more insulin will be released, blood sugar will drop, you will get symptoms and then the whole cycle will begin again as hormones are released to elevate blood sugar again. The only way off the roller coaster is to avoid processed food, sugar and food with a high glycemic index.
- Exercise moderately. While exercise is good for you, it can be overdone. There is such a thing as overexercising. In an attempt to lose weight or alleviate stress, some people over do it. This increases cortisol and blood sugar drops. If you feel exhausted or have any symptoms of hypoglycemia after exercise, then you are probably doing too much.
- Manage your stress. This is easier said than done. Stress can be physical such as pain, being too hot or too cold, lack of sleep, mental such as worry, toxic from herbicides, pesticides, chemicals and metals in the environment, hormone fluctuations such as high or low cortisol, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone, infection, or nutritional excess or deficiency. Finding the root cause and addressing it is key. Get an evaluation by a functional medicine physician who can measure your hormones and evaluate your lifestyle and environment. Adaptogenic herbal supplements help the body adapt. It is important to get a salivary cortisol test and an evaluation to determine which formula is right for you. Your physician can help you address the underlying cause.
- Travel can be stressful especially if you are crossing time zones. Plan ahead and prepare for unexpected conditions. Practice stress management techniques like deep belly breathing or HeartMath while waiting in line or dealing with delays. Use melatonin to adjust your sleep wake cycle and get plenty of rest during your trip. A short acting melatonin can help you fall asleep, whereas a long acting, slow or controlled release melatonin can help you stay asleep. Have a travel checklist to be sure you have everything you need before you go. Leaving an important medication at home will cause a significant amount of stress that is avoidable.
- Illness of any kind is a stress on the body. Get treatment as soon as you recognize it to avoid complications. While most people treat and recognize an acute illness such as a cold, flu or other obvious infections, some people harbor low grade chronic infections that are difficult to detect. Have regular dental checkups. Teeth and gums can harbor occult or low-grade infections. Viruses can be chronic such as Epstein Barr, or infections such as Lyme and they may require specialized care. The gastrointestinal tract has a microbiome that if out of balance can disrupt your hormone, immune and nervous system. A functional medicine physician can do a specialized stool test that can detect hidden bacteria, yeast and parasites that may be present causing dis-stress.
- Medications can either raise or lower blood sugar. Check the package insert and discuss how to mitigate the effects, adjust the dose or find a substitute with your doctor.
- Certain foods or beverages. Limit or avoid breakfast cereal, pastries or doughnuts, juice or smoothies, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and coffee drinks, tea, or energy drinks, sweetened beverages like regular soda or flavored milk, diet beverages, processed snack foods, such as chips, crackers, or bars, candy, pasta, bread, white rice, sauces, spreads, dressings, or condiments (most contain sugar), whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or oats, starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, corn, or butternut squash, desserts, alcohol
The symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation are varied and so are the causes. They also overlap with others. After taking appropriate steps on your own doesn’t improve your symptoms, find a functional medicine physician who can dig deeper and get to the root cause. Sometimes you need support to treat this and functional medicine physician will evaluate your lifestyle, genetics, and environment and provides alternatives to treat in a safe, effective and more natural way. Sign up for a free, no obligation clarity call to determine if this approach is a good fit for you.