We recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Brianna Cooper, a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at Arise to Wellness to discuss Hormones and Blood Sugar Balance and its affects on Anxiety. As pediatric and prenatal chiropractors here in the Greater Rochester area, we focus on the nervous system and its ability to properly adapt and function to and in any environment. This is absolutely crucial to health because if our kiddos or ourselves are in a constant internal stress state, there is no way we are going to be able to feel or function our best at school or home. We know that our health also involves how we eat, think and move and so are always looking to better each of these components.
Below is our guest blog post by Brianna Cooper as well as a link to our Facebook live interview. Make sure to reach out if you have any questions!
Blood sugar balance is a topic that many times goes unaddressed in the world of medicine; however, it is one of the most critical components to our health! When our blood sugar is out of balance, it is perceived by the body as a physical threat to our survival. The body’s most important job is to keep us alive-and we won’t make it very long if our blood sugar raises too high for too long, or drops too low for too long. Therefore, it would make sense that maintaining a stable blood sugar level would take first precedence. Anything else that needs attention by the body (digesting food, maintaining metabolism, balancing hormones, etc), must go to the back burner.
When it comes to blood sugar levels, we have a “sweet spot.” Our bodies function best and prefer our blood sugar to remain within 80-100 mg/dL. As long as we are within this range, we are good to go. The moment we dip below or spike above this range, our bodies will sound the alarm! When this alarm rings, we automatically enter into sympathetic dominance – this is the branch of our nervous system that we often know as “fight or flight.” Stress hormones are then pumped out into our bloodstream, and the 3 organs that are in charge of stabilizing our blood sugar levels are put into overdrive. These 3 organs include the pancreas, adrenal glands, and the liver. If we are constantly battling blood sugar levels, these organs become overworked and depleted.
When we wake up in the morning, our blood sugar should naturally be around the lower level of “normal”, closer to the 80mg/dL range due to our overnight fast. If the pancreas, adrenals, and liver are functioning optimally, we can eat a balanced breakfast and our blood sugar will naturally and gradually rise up as glucose enters our system, but will rarely raise past 100mg/dL. Because those organs are good at their jobs and the fact that we properly fueled ourselves with breakfast, our blood sugar levels will remain stable through the morning; they will slowly start falling again to signal hunger cues, encouraging lunch a few hours later. Another balanced meal goes in, that fuel sustains us for the afternoon, and the same process repeats itself prior to dinner or the next meal. Our blood sugar levels should look like a nice, gradual roller coaster throughout the day, again never falling out of that sweet spot!
Now, that perfect scenario is very hard to master! More often than not, our days don’t go quite as smoothly: we wake in the morning, again on the lower end of the blood sugar scale due to the overnight fast, and we consume food that will spike our blood sugar quickly, up above the high level of normal (above 100mg/dL). First emergency of the morning! Remember, any time that number jumps higher than our sweet spot, the alarm will ring. That spike will not last long, due to the absence of slow burning fuel from our food; so in our body’s attempt to quickly bring our blood sugar back down into the sweet spot, the blood sugar level will plummet. Next emergency! Now our bodies have to send out the troops to bring our levels back up into the sweet spot, but we overshoot….next emergency! So we end up having 2, maybe even 3 physical emergencies before we even get to lunch time! If you find yourself grabbing an extra cup of coffee or craving a sugary snack between meals, this is your body’s way of trying to stop that emergency.
So what can you do to help maintain proper blood sugar levels? First, be sure to include plenty of healthy fats-these are the best blood sugar stabilizers we have! They provide a slow and steady release of fuel to prevent any quick spikes or dips in blood sugar levels. Examples include eggs, bacon, avocado, nut butters, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, or ghee. Aim to have at least 1 serving of fat with each meal. Secondly, focus on a proper breakfast: it is best to avoid sugar/carbohydrates for breakfast to prevent that spike first thing in the morning. Set yourself up for a stable blood sugar day by focusing on protein and fat for breakfast! Thirdly, overall working to decrease sugar consumption is the best way to maintain proper blood sugar levels. The more sugar we eat, the more our insulin receptors have to work to utilize and store that sugar. Where does that sugar get stored if we are unable to use it? It gets stored in adipose tissue (fat tissue), or converted into cholesterol!