Diabetes & Blood Sugar Imbalances
When you eat carbs (bread, pasta, cakes, lollies, ice cream, sugars…), the pancreas secretes insulin (a hormone) to help move excess glucose from the blood into the cells were glucose is used to produce energy. But over time, if you eat too many carbs, the body secretes too much insulin into the blood and the cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. It’s as if insulin is knocking on the door of the cells wanting to put glucose inside, but the cells can’t hear it. The pancreas responds by pumping out even more insulin (knocking louder) in an effort to get glucose into the cells, and this eventually causes insulin resistance.
The different stages of blood glucose imbalances:
- Pre-diabetes- elevated blood glucose
- Metabolic syndrome- elevated blood lipids, fat around belly
- Insulin resistance- pancreas secretes insulin but cells are resistant, high blood insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes or MODY (mature onset diabetes of the young)
- Type 1= autoimmune diabetes (pancreas does not secrete insulin)
- Gestational diabetes
Organs involved: liver, gut, thyroid, adrenals, brain, kidneys, adipose tissue, muscle, pancreas.
The link between insulin resistance and Thyroid disease: studies have shown that the repeated insulin surges common in insulin resistance increase the destruction of the thyroid gland in people with autoimmune thyroid disease. As the thyroid gland is destroyed, thyroid hormone production falls.
Nutrition is integrally connected to the web of hormonal balance. Put simply, if you change your diet, you can change your hormones. By eating balanced meals, including complex carbohydrates and high quality protein and fats, you can regulate the insulin your body releases.
Getting back on track starts with making healthier choices. Eat a diet with a low glycemic load, high in fiber, and phytonutrient and omega-3 rich. It should be plant based, and you should consume plenty of good quality protein such as beans, nuts, seeds, and lean animal protein (ideally organic or grass fed). Exercise and enough good quality sleep are also critical.
My menus for people with these issues aim to educate you on how to combine foods together so that you can ensure that you are balancing your blood glucose levels and seldom have blood glucose dips or highs. I work with people who jetset around the world, with stay at home mums, kids and basically anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are on a budget, with the correct balance of foods and moderate activity you can help yourself balance your insulin and glucose and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes or blood sugar imbalances
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions– increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar or insulin level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
- Obesity -waist circumference. Measure you waist at the belly button and your hips at the widest point—if your waist to hip ratio is greater than 0.8 for women or 0.9 for men, then you have a problem
- High Blood pressure of over 130/85
- High Blood sugar level- with a fasting blood glucose test result of 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- High blood lipids (triglycerides more than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) , elevated LDL and lowered HDL)
- Small LDL and HDL particles
If you have any of these symptoms it’s recommended to do a glucose insulin challenge test.
It makes sense that if one out of every three of us is walking around with prediabetes, healthcare practitioners would be prepared to implement strategies to halt its progression to type 2. But this isn’t always the case. Standard blood tests look at blood sugar, among other things, but leave out one of the first indicators of prediabetes: insulin. Remember that insulin levels are among the first markers of change on the pathway to diabetes. At first they increase as insulin resistance sets in, then they start to decrease. So understanding how your insulin is working can help you to make important changes early on.
Sadly, many conventional practitioners lack the time to look closely at a patient’s lifestyle to determine if they could benefit from an insulin test. In fact, there is no set protocol for intervention until blood sugar begins to creep up, which means the patient has passed insulin resistance already. And though you can still reverse the problem, you’re much further along by then.
Staying on top of insulin and lifestyle habits early can help you avoid type 2 diabetes, insulin imbalance — and the problems associated with it, including imbalance of your sex hormones.