Blood sugar regulation is so important because when it is dys-regulated, it starts the vicious cycle of chronic fatigue syndrome, hormone imbalance, weight gain and the inability to lose weight, mood swings, hypoglycemia,hyperglycemia, high triglycerides and those ever present sweet and carb cravings.
It seems that everyone is experiencing the same thing these days. They are tired, feeling terrible and they are unable to lose weight. Very often those symptoms come from blood sugar dys-regulation. In order to understand why this happens, there is a need to explain what happens when someone who has normal blood sugar eats food. The food goes into the stomach and it passes into the small intestine where it breaks down into glucose which is the form of fuel that the body uses. The glucose goes through the walls of the small intestine and into the blood. Once it is in the blood, it is called blood glucose. The number of blood glucose molecules in the blood is what is measured on a blood glucose test. When a person eats food the number of blood glucose molecules in the blood goes up. Glucose can’t be dealt with in the body by itself without insulin. Insulin is a transporter; insulin gets released by the pancreas and insulin picks up the glucose and puts it into the cells of the body for energy. As the insulin transports the glucose, the levels of glucose molecules in the blood comes down to a low level and insulin is no longer needed to transport it and in theory, the body burns fat for energy until the next time the person eats. When the person eats again, the cycle repeats itself.
In the mid 1980’s, there was a change in the public health policy where saturated fat was associated with causing heart problems. This change in the public health policy created a low fat eating fad by the general public. That low-fat health policy along with a new food guide pyramid that recommended 6-8 servings of grains a day drove the public to consuming a large proportion of carbohydrates in their diet. Carbohydrates turn to sugar (glucose) very quickly in the blood. A person might eat a bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk, a half of a banana and a small glass of orange juice for breakfast. thinking that was a healthy meal, when in reality, that is a large amount of carbohydrates (sugar) to be consuming in one meal. The craze continued and for lunch, a healthy thinking person might have a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, baked potato chips and a diet soda. Then in the afternoon, they might have a whole grain granola bar. At dinner, this healthy thinking person might have pasta with vegetables. So all day this healthy thinking person’s blood sugar would be going up and down. The body could deal with this in the manner described above for a while–but at some point the body started to break down, because it was being given an enormous amount of carbohydrates for what its system was technically designed to handle.
The result of this is that the body would start to predict that every time it was given food, it had to prepare for a large load of carbohydrates. The result was the body would notice that the blood sugar (glucose) was beginning to rise and would produce a large amount of insulin to handle the glucose, but the body got off-kelter and would over-produce insulin. The insulin would do its job by transporting the glucose to the cells, but the problem was that once all the glucose had been carried to the cells, there was still insulin left over. Insulin left in the bloodstream does a few things:
1. Causes sugar cravings- the left over insulin in the blood would cause the person to want more carbohydrates, more sugar, so the healthy thinking person would then eat more carbohydrates or sugar, and again the insulin would surge higher and then there was still more insulin than glucose in the system.
2. Excess insulin in the system over time causes reactive hypoglycemia- the reactive hypoglycemia happens because the body reacts by producing too much insulin, and hypoglycemia is where the insulin drives down the blood sugar too low. There has to be a base level of glucose circulating in the bloodstream because 30-40% of brain function comes from this, so the body needs to be able to have a good level of glucose in the blood stream to keep the brain functioning.
When there is excess insulin in the bloodstream, it drives the blood sugar down too low, and the individual now is unable to function and may complain that they can’t think or are tired all the time. They may also feel irritable and complain that they have a hard time concentrating and their memory is worsening. This is all related to the fact that the brain is not being fed and is called reactive hypoglycemia or too low blood sugar. On the flip side of the coin, one could also call this condition too much insulin because it is the overproduction of insulin that is driving the circulating glucose to fall too low.
3. The third thing that is predominant for most people is that the presence of excess insulin in the bloodstream keeps the body from burning fat and the person can’t lose weight no matter what they try.
Thus they are left asking, “Why can’t I lose this weight??”
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