Symptoms of blood sugar imbalance include one or more of the following- waking up at 2-4 am, an afternoon energy crash, foggy brain, irritability aka “hangry” from not eating, weakness, blurred vision, craving sugary or refined foods, belly fat, need for caffeine to get through the day, jittery/shaky, low sex drive, problems losing weight, infertility, to name a few.
Blood sugar highs and lows can be the root cause of inflammation and numerous downstream systemic problems, including hormonal challenges, Insulin Resistance, Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia, Metabolic Syndrome, Prediabetes, Diabetes- These are all pathological names for blood sugar problems that result from years of blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar regulation is important for all of us and is often overlooked as a cause of daily symptoms. Learning basic physiology and listening to your bodies signs and signals is fundamental to long-term health. Measuring your blood sugar levels can be super insightful and great fun:)
Glucose– simple sugar known as blood sugar that feeds your cells, produced mainly by the breakdown of carbohydrates during digestion.
Insulin- hormone that helps move glucose from the blood to the cells to be used as energy or stored, it is produced in the pancreas and lowers blood sugar levels.
Insulin Sensitivity– The normal and prefered situation where the cells are open to receiving insulin so the insulin can do its job and lower blood sugar allowing cells can use the glucose for energy.
Glucagon- hormone produced by the pancreas to balance insulin, when insulin is low (because blood sugar is low) glucagon promotes the release of glycogen (stored glucose) in the liver and the conversion of proteins to glucose. Both provide glucose for cells to use.
Dysglycemia– state of chronically dysregulated blood sugar that includes both low and high blood sugar levels.
Glucometer- Measuring your blood sugar and empowering yourself to take charge of your baseline health
Don’t be scared that you don’t know how to do it. Go for it! Order one online, any one will do, no need to get the most expensive. Have fun playing with it. They all have directions that are easy to follow. Just start paying attention and the numbers will start making sense. I encourage people to write them down on a calendar or sheet of paper, notice patterns, take charge!
Testing your blood glucose (how much sugar is in your blood) Directions-
- Always wash your hands before testing your blood glucose
- Put a test strip in your glucometer
- Prick your finger with device
- Put a drop of blood on the test strip
- Wait, read, record.
- Fasting Blood Glucose is a great place to start- measure blood sugar first thing in the morning before eating or drinking (wash your hands first, did I already say that?;)-
- best to keep under 100 mg/dL (functional range is 77-88 mg/dL)
- 90-125 mg/dL- Warning zone (pre-diabetic)
- >125 diabetic
- 1 hour Postprandial measurement (1 hour after eating)- normal is <140 mg/dL
- 2 hour Postprandial measurement (2 hours after eating) – normal is <120 mg/dL
- 3 hour Postprandial measurement – back to normal
*Test yourself after specific foods, meals, quantities etc to see how you uniquely react to foods if you would like to further the testing and explore more.
GeneralDiet and Lifestyle Recommendations for regulating blood sugar (remember, we all react differently to foods and are bioindividual, but this is a good place to start)-
- Eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between
- Remove or reduce food bandits (sugar, artificial sweetener, white flour, damaged fats, processed foods)
- Eat within 1 hour of waking up. Never skip breakfast with dysregulated blood sugar. Make sure to include clean protein. I like to have 1 cup of nut milk with chocolate collagen protein powder when I wake up when I am trying to manage blood sugar.
- Include Protein/Fat/Fiber in every meal/snack (make that your mantra!!) Fiber slows down the speed at which glucose hits your bloodstream (preventing the blood sugar and then insulin spike), fat does not cause a rise in blood glucose but provides energy for cells and helps us feel satisfied, and protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
- No restrictions on fat as long as they are high quality such as avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, pastured and organic meat/dairy/eggs, olive oil, Omega 3’s (eliminate oxidized oils and vegetable oils)
- Eat high quality carbs, non starchy veggies, dark green leafy vegetables, polyphenols (from brightly colored fruits and vegetables), soaked/sprouted whole grains
- Eat before becoming hungry. Notice signs of hunger/blood sugar imbalance
- Practice calorie restriction. Eat to 80% full
- Specific Nutrients to get from food (or supplement if needed)
- vitamin K- increase osteocalcin (bone health)
- vitamin D- increase insulin sensitivity
- Magnesium-( glycinate, citrate, or malate before bed)- insulin production
- Chromium- facilitates insulin signaling and decrease carb craving
- Zinc- strengthen pancreas, needed for insulin production
- Booster Foods– greens powders for cofactors, fermented foods, chia, flax, etc
- Sulfur foods for Alpha Lipoic Acid- broccoli, onion,
- Stress reduction and stress processing (daily meditation, guided imagery, etc)
- Mindfulness, spiritual practice
- Find joy, community connection, loved ones, hobbies, delight
- Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed by 10pm if possible and keep your room as dark, quiet, and cool as possible
Helpful Botanicals for blood sugar regulation
- Fenugreek seed powder (>5 g /day)
- Cinnamon – 1 tsp – 1 TBL per day
- Nigella Sativa (black cumin seed)
- Curcumin or turmeric (500mg turmeric or 22 mg curcumin) 3xs a day for 2 months
- Berberine (.5-1.5 g /day)
- EGCG- from green tea
- Tea (green, black, oolong)
- Gymnema Sylvestre
Bauman, Ed. Therapeutic Nutrition Manuel. Bauman College. Pengrove, CA. 2016
Hyman, Mark. The Blood Sugar Solution- The 10 day Detox. Little Brown and Company. New York, NY. 2014
Kresser, Chris. When Normal Blood Sugar Isn’t Normal. Kresser Institute. October 2016