Sometimes we discover that the reason someone can’t lose weight is due to an active autoimmune disorder affecting blood sugar regulation. I’m going to share some more info on this today, plus there’s a symptom checker to get an idea of where your hormones sit.
Symptoms to BEWARE
Unstable blood sugar levels contribute to many of the symptoms that autoimmune patients deal with – including exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and brain fog. Many people don’t realise the vital role that blood sugar regulation plays in their overall health.
Check your symptoms below to see if you are in a health risk zone.
What is blood sugar regulation?
During digestion, your body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into sugars. One of these sugar molecules is called glucose. Glucose is the main energy source for your body. Glucose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream – however it needs the help of insulin (a hormone released by your pancreas) to get into the cells.
In a healthy person, this is what should happen: Blood sugar levels rise this leads to insulin being released from the pancreas the insulin allows the glucose to enter cells of the body blood sugar levels then return to normal.
However – if there isn’t enough insulin, or your cells don’t respond properly to insulin –glucose remains in the bloodstream.
Why are blood sugar (glucose) levels important?
Glucose is the brain’s fuel source. Stable blood sugar levels are vital to ensure healthy, balanced brain functioning. When blood sugar levels are low, not enough glucose gets to the brain – so it can’t function properly. This is why people with low blood sugar become lightheaded, shaky, and irritable if they go too long without eating — their brains aren’t getting enough fuel to operate.
However – high blood sugar levels also cause a problem. High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels which can cause:
- Kidney disease
- Heart attacks
- Vision loss
- Poor immune function
- Nerve damage to feet, legs and hands
- Poor circulation to legs and feet
- Slow wound healing
Often people will cycle dangerously between high and low blood sugar levels – which leads to a lot of inflammation in the body.
In fact, chronic blood sugar imbalances and their inflammatory effects are now suspected to play a large role in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How is this linked to autoimmune disease?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This is where the immune system attacks insulin producing cells of the pancreas, so the body is no longer able to produce sufficient insulin. This means that the glucose in the bloodstream cannot get into the cells, and the body cannot use the glucose for energy.
People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin every day of their lives to replace the insulin their body cannot produce.
Even if you don’t have type 1 diabetes, unstable blood sugar levels will exacerbate symptoms of other autoimmune conditions (symptoms such as exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and brain fog).
How do I know if I have a problem with blood sugar regulation?
Generally things like fasting glucose and fasting insulin levels are used to determine blood sugar regulation. However, there are other important markers that monitor how your body is up-taking and storing glucose on a more long-term basis. We recommend testing:
HBA1C: this indicates how you are balancing blood sugar levels over the past 3 months
1,5-Anydroglyucitol: This indicates how you are balancing your blood sugars over the past 2 weeks
Leptin: Leptin is a hormone released by your fat cells which play a role in calorie burning, inflammation and blood sugar levels.
Tips to control your blood sugar levels
One of the most powerful tools to stabilise your blood sugar levels is your diet.
When it comes to blood sugar- what you eat, and when you eat are both very important.
Top 10 tips to help balance sugars and lose weight
1. Eat a good quality, high protein breakfast. This will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels for the morning.
2. If you have hypoglycemia, eat a small amount of protein every two to three hours will help stabilise blood sugar levels (just a few bites – not a whole meal). For example – a few nuts, seeds, a boiled egg or a protein shake. As your dysglycemia improves, you will find you can go longer between snacks.
3. Do not eat sugar foods or starchy foods before bed. If you do – your blood sugar levels will crash during the night, long before your next meal is due. Then your adrenals will kick into action, creating restless sleep or that 3 a.m. wake up.
4. Avoid all fruit juices. These will cause a quick spike in your blood sugar levels.
5. Avoid or limit caffeine. This includes energy boosting drinks on the market. Caffeine has been shown to raise blood sugar levels and reduces insulin sensitivity.
6. Eat a well-balanced diet consisting mostly of vegetables, and quality meats and fats.
7. Eliminate food allergens and intolerances. Whenever a food creates an immune response, it also creates blood sugar instability and insulin surges. The best way to work out what foods are causing intolerance is to get a food intolerance test done.
8. Drink at least 2L of filtered water per day. Dehydration can cause blood sugar levels to rise.
9. Exercise for at least 30 minutes 3-4 times per week.
10. Assess vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain vitamins or minerals can contribute to imbalanced blood sugar levels (eg low levels of chromium or magnesium)
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of blood sugar imbalance, we recommend doing a full screening for blood sugar levels (both short and long term) as well as screening for any vitamin/ mineral deficiencies and food intolerances that may be contributing to this.
Book a FREE 15-minute consultation with a naturopath so you can discuss your symptoms and find out if we can help you meet your health goals.