Blood Sugar Blues: Where Do You Fit In?
Before we hit a state of blood sugar pathology (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood for example), we most likely spend some time, perhaps decades, in a state of functional blood sugar imbalance.
These functional imbalances probably begin due to diet and lifestyle, and the good news is that they can usually be corrected with diet, lifestyle, and natural supplementation, under the care of a trained functional medicine practitioner.
Two most common functional imbalances:
1. Functional reactive hypoglycemia
2. Insulin resistance.
Here’s how Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a leader in the functional medicine community, defined the two states of functional blood sugar imbalance.
“There is an overlap between the two conditions, but functional reactive hypoglycemia is generally a lower than ideal blood glucose physiological state with spikes of deficient glucose, whereas insulin resistance is generally a higher than ideal glucose physiological state with spikes of excessive glucose.”
When I first began to study functional medicine some years ago, I didn’t understand how not managing my own blood sugar was such a stress to my body.
Sure, eating a giant cookie or skipping a meal didn’t make me feel good, but why was it such a big deal?
I now understand how my amazing body works to keep an even stream of glucose to my cells, so they can covert it to energy. When I sabotage that balance with my poor choices, I risk short-term fatigue, anxiety and acne, and long-term diseases such as dementia and cancer.
How can you know if you are upsetting your own blood sugar? Here are some key points:
Your habits include:
• Skipping breakfast or other meals
• Having coffee for breakfast
• Eating breakfast a few hours after waking
• Surviving on sugary snacks
• ‘Grazing’ (eating a bit throughout the day)
• Using caffeine or cigarettes to suppress appetite
• Engaging in lots of exercise without replenishing calories
• Surviving on carbs, sweets and processed foods
• Never exercising
• Ignoring your expanding waistline
You may be experiencing these symptoms:
• Craving sweets
• Irritable if you can’t eat often
• Anxious, nervous
• Forgetful, absent-minded
• Fatigued after meals
• Eating sweets does not relieve craving for sweets
• Difficulty losing weight
• Tired all the time
The ‘A’ lists correspond more to functional reactive hypoglycemia, and the ‘B’ lists correspond to insulin resistance. But as Dr. Kharrazian stated, there can be some overlap.
As I mentioned earlier, if you have not yet entered an irreversible pathologic state, there is still much hope for treating functional blood sugar disorders. You can resolve everyday symptoms like fatigue and sugar cravings, plus help balance your hormones in conditions of PCOS, infertility and more.
Blood sugar balance is one of the most important balancing acts in your body, and a trained functional medicine practitioner can spot these patterns both in your history and your lab results.
Please contact me at bridgitdanner.com if you are interested in receiving this kind of health screening, and please stay tuned to Nicole’s radio show, the Period Party, where I’ll soon be a guest to talk about lab testing for women’s health.
All the best in your health journey,
Bridgit Danner, LAc
Bridgit Danner is a licensed acupuncturist and a functional medicine practitioner specializing in women’s health and fertility. She sees clients in Portland, Oregon and online worldwide.
0 thoughts on “How to tell if your blood sugar is imbalanced – top warning signs”
What do you recommend for someone with reactive hyperglycemia with lepin reactance. As confirmed with a glucose tolerance test and lab work.
Ive been recently diagnosed with PCOS and insuline resistance. Do you have any good tips on food plans/daily menus? Hard to eat healthy at work. It’s so easy to just grab a granola bar and La Croix heading into a meeting, but trying to start going low-carb and low-sugar, and I’d love some advice! Thank you!!
Thanks for your comment. I think maybe reframing this a little might help you. We’re not suggesting you control your diet so much as we are suggesting that you begin to incorporate foods that keep your blood sugar as stable as possible.
When you’re eating lots of refined carbohydrates and sugar, your blood sugar will go up and down like a rollercoaster. The only way to stop that is to make sure you are eating balanced meals with protein, fat and unrefined carbohydrates in each meal. Additionally, reducing or eliminating triggering foods like sugar is necessary. If you don’t feel capable of doing that on your own because of your history with food then definitely seek help.
This is one of the core elements of any hormonal healing program so it’s very important to consider if you’re working on getting your hormones back on track.
I am sure that I have a blood sugar and hormone imbalance of some variety, and I’m pretty sure that it’s effecting my menstrual cycle as well, but I am worried about controling my diet because I have had an extreemly negative relationship with food until I stopped thinking about it or depriving myself of anything just under a year ago which has improved my mental health. What advice can you give to manage my blood sugar whilst not slipping back into old thought patterns of cyclic eating?
Hey ladies, Nicole asked me to comment on the intermittent fasting question. I think it is ultimately helpful to eat less frequently (like every 4 hours) to give the cells a chance to not be bathed in sugar all the time- this will improve insulin sensitivity.
However is someone is hypoglycemic and low adrenal, even the 4 hour stretch can be hard. Long periods of intermittent fasting require, in my opinion, really strong health and blood sugar situation that most modern Americans don’t possess. Also for women, any type of fasting could trigger ammenorrhea.
Nutrients like chromium and magnesium, and herbs like gymnema and berberine may be easier, gentler ways to decrease insulin resistance. And avoid ‘grazing’ and lots of snacking is a good idea for most people.
The leptin situation I think can really be improved with eating less carbs- like 100 gm a day- and having good fats, fiber and probiotic foods.
I’ve been reading more and more about intermittent fasting (IF) as being very beneficial to reverse insulin/leptin resistance. Thoughts?
Intermittent fasting can be a good option for some people but I don’t recommend it if there are blood sugar imbalances. I think it’s best to stabilize blood sugar by eating meals with protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber in them every 2-3 hours for a couple of weeks and then trying the intermittent fasting. If you do IF when you have blood sugar imbalances, it can raise cortisol levels and further worsen the blood sugar rollercoaster. This might cause you to feel moody, light-headed and anxious just to name a few. I suggest trying it out for a day or two and really paying attention to how you feel before doing it on a more regular basis. Hope that helps! 🙂
Great post and easy hinters… seems like most people really don’t take good care of their blood sugar. Learning this for myself and my own body has made a HUGE difference. Thanks for the reminder:)