In this month’s article, I will touch on a huge subject that is my absolute passion: blood sugar management. Of course, you will never search for a ‘blood sugar management nutritionist’ on Google. Instead, you will look up for a possible explanation for any symptoms you may be experiencing, which may include fatigue, energy crashes between meals, not waking up feeling refreshed, sugar/caffeine/salt cravings, difficulty falling or staying asleep, chronic pain, inability to handle stress, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression, hormonal issues and/or, being unable to lose or gain weight. All these symptoms could have a simple explanation: dysglycaemia (i.e. unstable blood sugar levels), which includes both low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) as well as rollercoaster-like fluctuations of highs and lows between these two states.
Normal glucose response
The food we eat provides us with energy which allows our bodies to function properly. Carbohydrates, our primary energy source, are broken down into sugar which is absorbed into the bloodstream. This both triggers a rise in blood glucose levels and the release of insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells to be used for energy as ATP. Once the cells are full, any excess glucose is stored as reserves in the muscles and liver as glycogen. If there is an excess of sugar and the muscle and liver stores are already full, insulin will transport sugar into fat cells to be stored as fat. If your blood sugar levels are stable, you will wake up energised and rested, you will not experience cravings and the only physiological change after meals is that you are not going to be hungry anymore. If you feel either energised or tired after meals, this is NOT normal and this may indicate dysglycemia.
Why is adequate blood sugar management so important?
Any processes happening in the body (i.e. metabolism) requires energy (ATP). It is almost impossible for your body to repair itself or for you to recover from a chronic condition if your blood sugar is not managed properly. FACT!
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
If you are irritable/ shaky/ lightheaded if meals are missed and your energy crashes during the day are resolved after eating, you may be hypoglycaemic. There are many reasons why this could happen, but the most common reasons are: skipping meals, eating high-sugar snacks, using caffeine as appetite-suppressant, leaving long gaps between meals, overtraining and/or having a diet low in protein and fibre. If your diet does not justify your symptoms, this could be due to an underlying metabolic issue.
The downward spiral of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)
This is a huge subject, and the spectrum of progression goes from insulin resistance (typically linked with PCOS and a wide range of hormonal issues) to Metabolic Syndrome and pre-diabetes to Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and finally, to T2D with complications. If you are anywhere on this spectrum, you are usually more likely to feel tired after eating as glucose cannot get into your cells to be used for energy. The good news is that unless you are at the stage of T2D with complications, it is possible to reverse this downward spiral by adjusting your nutrition and lifestyle. Act now before it’s too late!
Christelle Page is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, specialising in blood sugar management and weight loss. Need some help or want to find out more? Book your Complimentary Health Transformation call at: www.keepcalmnutrition.co.uk (limited availability).