BLOOD SUGAR AND MENTAL HEALTH
with Jessie Johns
Balancing Blood Sugar Levels: The Key to Optimal Mental Health
Regardless of your age, gender, or diabetes status, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for your overall health. It’s the conductor of your metabolic symphony, the guardian of your mental health, and the regulator of your hormones. In this article, we’ll uncover the hidden intricacies of blood sugar control, how it influences your body’s performance, and why it’s not just about steering clear of sugary snacks. We’ll also delve into the effects of dysregulated blood sugar on your health, exploring the intricate connections it shares with metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, and mental health symptoms.
Understanding the Basics: Glucose and Insulin
Before we dive into the profound impact of blood sugar regulation, let’s first grasp the fundamentals of glucose and insulin biochemistry. When we consume sugar, it swiftly enters our bloodstream after crossing the gut lining. When blood glucose levels rise, the pancreas responds by releasing insulin, acting like a key that unlocks insulin receptors on the cell’s surface. This “lock and key” mechanism allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells for energy, effectively lowering blood glucose levels. It’s a delicate dance, one we need to perform with precision.
The Consequences of Blood Sugar Spikes
Dysregulated blood sugar, stemming from poor diet, inactivity, stress, or sleep disturbances, can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation within the body. This state of inflammation, known as metabolic inflammation, plays a pivotal role in the development of various metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and nerve tissue damage.
One of the critical players in this scenario is cortisol, our stress hormone. When the body perceives a threat, cortisol triggers the release of stored glucose from the liver, flooding the bloodstream (a process known as gluconeogenesis). While this is a protective mechanism for “fight or flight” situations, it becomes problematic when stress arises from non-physical threats, such as work or financial stressors. This overproduction of cortisol, especially in chronic stress presentations, can lead to severely dysregulated blood sugar, putting individuals at risk metabolic inflammation.
Metabolic inflammation can also occur if you skip meals, go extended periods without eating, or consume a predominantly carbohydrate-based diet. The body interprets these blood sugar fluctuations as threats and responds by releasing cortisol to restore blood glucose levels to normal. This excess cortisol production can trigger inflammation, affecting not only blood sugar but also various body systems, particularly the nervous system.
The Widespread Impact of Dysregulated Blood Sugar
When blood sugar remains persistently dysregulated, the repercussions can be far-reaching. Chronic blood sugar imbalances can suppress the immune system, hyperactivate the nervous system, impair digestion, disrupt the gut microbiome, and disrupt the production of reproductive hormones. One of the most common impacts dysregulated blood sugar has on the body is the presentation of mental health symptoms, which can exacerbate neuropsychiatric disorders.
Recognizing Dysregulated Blood Sugar
Dysregulated blood sugar is not limited to diabetics; it can affect anyone. Recognizing the symptoms is crucial for early intervention. Keep an eye out for the following signs that may indicate unstable blood sugar:
- Fatigue and energy fluctuations
- Mood swings and irritability
- Cravings for sweets and carbs
- Increased hunger, even shortly after eating
- Feeling faint, lightheaded or shaky
- Generalized weakness
- Poor sleep, waking tired
So… how on earth do we regulate our blood sugar levels!?
Regulating Your Blood Glucose
To maintain regulated blood sugar, it’s essential to incorporate protein and healthy fats into your meals every 4-5 hours (3-4 hours for those with severe dysregulation). Constant snacking won’t help achieve this goal.
Regulated blood sugar offers an array of benefits for the body. It serves as a safety mechanism for conception and fertility, weight management, and crucially supports nervous system regulation, a key component for mental health conditions.
Achieving and maintaining balanced blood sugar levels will manifest in various ways:
- Greater resilience to stress
- A robust appetite
- A warm body temperature
- A strong libido
- Increased fertility
- Healthy weight management
- Regular and pain-free periods
As you can see, blood sugar regulation is not merely about avoiding sugary snacks; it’s a cornerstone of overall health. By understanding the intricate interplay between blood sugar and various body systems, we can take control of our well-being and thrive. By taking the step to regulate blood sugar levels, we can help inform our nervous system to aid in the reduction of mental health symptoms.
If any of the above symptom’s sound like you, you would certainly benefit from working with a Clinical Nutritionist to get your blood sugar (and mental health!) back on track.
Jessie Johns is a Clinical Nutritionist that has a deep understanding of how the food we eat impacts our health and wellbeing. She believes that consistently meeting the body’s nutritional requirements with adequate wholefoods is fundamental in not only restoring good health, but to truly heal the body and thrive.
To learn more about Jessie and her offerings, click here
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