I talk about blood sugar metabolism being so important to health and wellness that I figured I should start writing articles about it. It’s such an enormous topic and impacts health in so many ways…. Because of this, I thought we should start with the basic physiological mechanisms of blood sugar metabolism. Really basic, it’s not rocket science.
The body has built-in mechanisms designed to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. And I’m not speaking of the ranges reported on your blood test. They are way too wide. I’m speaking generally, and that’s all that it’s important for now. Again, blood sugar needs to be in a certain stable range because it can be quite damaging otherwise, for a number of reasons.
Let’s now assume that your blood sugar level is normal (in the moment). BUT, you have an underlying problem with regulating sugar. Then you decide to eat sugars (pies, cakes, cookies, candies, ice cream, soda, doughnuts, brownies, etc.) and starches (bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes). Here is what happens. Your blood sugar “spikes” to a level deemed too high for what the body considers safe. Then, insulin, a hormone from the pancreas, gets released in order to pull the excess sugar out of the blood and into the cells. The problem is that your blood sugar was so high (from eating those foods), that your pancreas releases an excess amount of insulin. This results in the blood sugar going too low.
Next, as the body senses low blood sugar levels, it decides it needs to raise them. This is done through the release of stress hormones; namely cortisol and adrenaline. Now the blood sugar usually spikes again because the sugar levels went so low – and the body produced too many stress hormones to raise the blood sugar.
Do you see the peaks and valleys here? Blood sugar goes too high by eating sugars and starches. Next, insulin gets released in large amounts (because of the very high sugar levels), resulting in an excessive drop of blood sugar, and ultimately resulting in sugar levels being lower than normal. Then, the stress hormones “save the day” by surging, in order to raise the blood sugar levels. Then the blood sugar is too high (because of the unnatural surge) and excessive insulin release then comes along again and the sugar levels go too low; then excessive stress hormones get released; and sugar goes back up and too high; and so on with this vicious cycle of highs and lows in blood sugar.
At some point these mechanisms get “burned out” and result in insulin resistance. This means the cells don’t respond well to insulin’s message to take the sugar out of the blood. If this condition does not get under control, the result may eventually be type 2 diabetes.
The other main result is adrenal stress syndrome. When the stress glands that produce cortisol and adrenaline to raise the blood sugar, become “burned out”.
Signs and symptoms will certainly vary between individuals. Here are the most common I see: weight gain, insomnia (trouble falling and/or staying asleep), anxiety and panic attacks, irritability, yeast infections, frequent infections (bacterial, viral, etc.), fatigue (esp. late-afternoon), mood swings, depression, headaches, inability to heal from injuries, inflammation, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, high or low blood pressure, etc., etc., etc….
So now you realize that eating sugars and starches can cause blood sugar instability. These foods can certainly be eaten IN MODERATION if you don’t have a blood sugar metabolism disorder. But please note that you do not need to be labeled “diabetic”, “hypoglycemic”, or “hyperglycemic” in order to actually have problems with blood sugar metabolism. The reason being – blood tests will show normal blood sugar levels until you are you are “far gone”. If a problem shows up on a blood test, there is a serious problem. However, many of your symptoms may be caused by faulty sugar metabolism and go unnoticed, because the tests look normal.
Remember that the body goes to great extents to keep blood sugar in normal range. So measuring blood sugar alone often misses the problem. A better way to check would be measuring fasting insulin levels as well. Usually, they’ll be high working to keep the sugar normal (or low). The problem is doctors don’t typically order fasting insulin tests. In my experience, patients need to have obvious, debilitating, blood sugar symptoms before this is ordered by their doctors.
Why isn’t this done? I truly don’t know. One thought is that some doctors look at the body as if: insomnia is a sleeping pill deficiency; anxiety is an anti-anxiety drug deficiency; yeast infections are an anti-fungal drug deficiency; high cholesterol and blood pressure is a deficiency in drugs to lower those; etc., etc., etc….
Shoot for a (12-hour) fasting blood sugar level of 80-90. The closer to 80 the better. And put the sugars and starches aside; except when celebrating birthdays, holidays, etc..
I’ll discuss the complications mentioned in detail, in other articles.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology
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