The importance of blood sugar
If there’s one important message I will keep highlighting, it is that we all need to start taking our blood sugar dysregulation very seriously. Mainstream medicine does not seem to pay attention to this important marker which is fasting insulin and this is the first marker to go up, indicating that we start having metabolic issues with our blood sugar before HbA1c and fasting glucose even begin to rise. Early detection of blood sugar dysregulation will help you make necessary changes in your lifestyle.
Fasting Insulin = 1- 5 uIU/ml
HbA1c = 4.5-5.2 %
Fasting Glucose = 75- 86 mg/dl anything > 90 is pre-diabetic.
My aim in this blog post is to keep it short and sweet and to highlight the most important points from the previous blog posts starting in December that was building up on the importance of blood sugar and everything involved. This way you have a summary and can read it over and over hoping it will sink in and you will take it seriously and begin to make those necessary changes.
Sugar is in everything we eat, be it healthy or unhealthy. Once broken down into smaller molecules, glucose is transported throughout the body to provide energy to cells. However, glucose must pass through the liver, known as the “Project Manager,” to be properly processed and regulated by insulin. If insulin is not functioning optimally, we may observe elevated levels, which is why testing the fasting insulin marker is important. This occurs when we end up eating too much sugar/carbs or we are binge eating all the time.
Under normal circumstances, mainstream medicine may consider fasting insulin levels of 10-16-21 as normal. However, functional medicine practitioners understand that this may indicate the beginning of a cascade of metabolic issues. Exhausted insulin that is not functioning optimally can lead to hormonal imbalances, particularly in premenopausal and menopausal women. Over time, this can result in a range of health issues including cardiovascular and autoimmune conditions.
Carbohydrate cravings, particularly for sweet foods, bread, pasta, cookies, and cakes, can become more frequent as insulin dysregulation progresses. This can lead to weight gain, especially around the waist, and a cycle of dieting and weight gain that can be difficult to break.
We worry about blood pressure which is a metabolic issue, and it is recommended to lower our salt intake. Earlier, I mentioned that glucose plays a role in metabolic issues, and it’s worth noting that high blood pressure is also a metabolic issue that can be linked to glucose dysregulation. Let me explain.
The body can’t make salt. We must consume it. Salt is responsible for blood volume which is responsible for blood pressure. The body has a built-in mechanism to get rid of excess salt and does that by:
1. Peeing out excess salt via the kidneys
2. Sweating it out through the skin
3. Excreting it out through the stool
No matter how much salt you consume the body will always take what it needs and get rid of any excess. Unfortunately, that is not true for sugar and carbs. There is no built-in mechanism to excrete sugar out of the body like salt. Once sugar enters the body it stays in the body and the body must dispose of it as quickly as possible because it is toxic to the lining of our vessels and will cause a lot of oxidative stress which with time leads to health issues escalating.
In the case of blood pressure, once glucose enters the cells it pulls water in with it which causes the blood vessels to swell losing their ability to regulate it. The diameter of the blood vessel narrows, and the blood pressure builds up. Therefore, the true culprit behind elevated blood pressure is sugar and carbohydrate consumption, not salt intake.
Reducing your intake of processed carbs and refined sugars will lower your blood pressure. It’s important to note that salt intake is not to blame, unless you have a genetic predisposition.
Similarly, you may attribute bloating and water retention to salt as the culprit. However, the real culprit is sugar and refined carbs because they put stress on the Adrenals, which help regulate your blood sugar levels. Eating too many refined carbs can cause this, but that is another topic for another time.
On the other hand, the body needs glucose to survive, but the liver can regulate its production, so we don’t need to consume it.
1. The body uses glucose to produce ATP, which fuels its cells.
2. The liver stores glycogen for immediate use and releases it in situations of fight or flight or when blood sugar drops below a certain level, raising the blood sugar back to normal.
Excess glucose in the body is stored as triglycerides, and when the stores become full, the triglyceride marker begins to increase, indicating excessive consumption of sugar and refined carbs. If the triglyceride level exceeds 150mg/dL, it is a sign of this. Taking a statin to lower cholesterol is not a substitute for improving your diet.
Triglycerides are responsible for transporting fat and storing it in fat cells, which have the ability to expand but do not leave the body. Fat cells can only be burned as fuel when the body enters a state of fat metabolism, which can be achieved through a diet that eliminates refined carbs, processed foods, sugar, and inflammatory seed oils. These dietary changes allow the body to access its fat reserves and burn them as a more efficient fuel source than carbohydrates and protein.
3. If glucose is not available from the food we consume (sugar, carbs, protein, vegetables, starches, fruit, etc.) then the body will go into its muscles as a last resort to break them down because they are made from protein and will convert it into glucose to fuel the cells to make ATP. This will only take place in severe circumstances like famine, where the body is trying to keep you alive.
What should we eat then and in what order?
- Eat real food – limit processed and refined foods as much as possible. Lower your rice intake to 3 tbsp and limit your bread consumption to a small slice once a day.
- Consume desert as a treat once in a blue moon and don’t make it part of your everyday life. Enjoy some fruit instead.
- Always begin your meal with salad, vegetables and protein. Next carbs/starches and then sugar or fruit at the end.
- Do yourself a favor and avoid cooking with industrial seed oils like Mazzola, canola, Wesson, and others because they are often refined using chemicals, solvents, and bleaches, or heated to such high temperatures that it damages the oil. These oils are pro-inflammatory and can contribute to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis, making them harmful to your arteries.
- Do not fry your food – bake instead and use olive, avocado, or coconut oil. Your body will thank you.
To wrap up
What we eat has a huge impact on our adrenals, hormones, metabolism and most importantly sleep. To heal and stay healthy we must lower our sugar and refined carbohydrate content as explained above.
What we aim to achieve by eating healthy well-balanced meals is to maintain a steady stream of blood glucose levels, in contrast to the highs and lows caused by consuming low-quality foods high in carbohydrates, processed ingredients, and sugar. These spikes can create significant oxidative stress in the body, which is why we should strive to reduce them.
Exercise is very important in our aging process. When we are young, we can get away with eating unhealthily or eating an unbalanced meal as long as we have a good exercise routine, but as we age, we need to be very careful not to injure ourselves because recovery is much slower. Eating sugar/unrefined carbs again plays a big role here. As I mentioned, when sugar enters the body, it can’t leave and if it hangs around for too long it will cause oxidative damage, it also could seep out of the bloodstream and attach itself to protein molecules which are our ligaments and tendons. They will become more susceptible to injury because of that.
In order not to injure ourselves, we therefore must make sure that our diet is not pro-inflammatory hence reducing the sugar and refined carbs will help us not only age gracefully and be healthier but will also help us lower the chances of contracting Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autoimmunity, Cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Always looking out for your health and updating you with the latest research in functional medicine.
If you need any support, I’d love to help out with a free discovery call right here.
Small changes for a healthier “U”