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The Relationship Between Stress and Blood Sugar Levels

March 6, 2018 by

People have no shortage of stress these days. Between demanding jobs, relationships, major life changes, and everyday conflicts, people’s stress hormones end up being activated for long periods of time. These hormones used to prepare people during short-term dangers such as getting away from predators, but now these days, they are turned on even though people are not necessarily fighting for their lives. Instead, people are stewing, which can lead to chronically high blood sugar.

When your mind and body experience stress, epinephrine, glucagon, cortisol, and growth hormones play a role in your blood sugar levels. This may happen if your body is fighting an infection, you are ill, or you are experiencing emotional stress. These hormonal responses may last for 6-8 hours. During this time, blood sugar may be hard to control. When a low blood sugar is followed by a high blood sugar, it is called a rebound or ?Somogyi? reaction. For optimal health, you want your blood sugar level to stay about the same throughout the day rather than having highs and lows.

When stressed, your body is ready to take action. Your heart will begin to race, your breath will get faster, and your stomach may tense up. This also triggers your blood sugar levels to rise. When your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, your increased blood sugar levels prepare you to act. However, if your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar will accumulate in your blood without an exit plan, which can lead to hyperglycemia.

When you are stressed, your body prepares itself by making sure that you have adequate amounts of sugar or energy readily available for you to use. This causes insulin levels to fall and glucagon and epinephrine levels to increase, meaning more glucose is then released from your liver. As your growth hormone and cortisol levels increase, your body tissues become less sensitive to insulin, which results in more glucose being available in your bloodstream. This can lead to weight gain and diabetes.

Stress can certainly lead to weight gain. When your body produces more cortisol during times of stress, testosterone production slows. Over time, a drop in this muscle-building hormone leads to a decrease in your muscle mass, allowing you to burn fewer calories. While this happens naturally with age, high cortisol levels make this process happen quicker. Cortisol also makes your body store visceral fat, which is especially dangerous because it covers your vital organs and puts more fatty acids into your blood, which can raise cholesterol and insulin levels and lead to heart disease and diabetes.

One way to keep your mind and body calm while also keeping your weight down is to focus on your diet. A diet that is based on real, whole foods, and foods that have natural probiotics, helps to support a positive mood and mental health. It also helps you be resilient in the face of adversity and bounce back from stressful situations. Some great foods to consider include dark chocolate, berries, bananas, omega-3 fats, and curcumin to help increase your mood. Alternatively, sugar, wheat, and processed foods can actually make your mood worsen. Additionally, your diet can certainly influence the number of fluctuations in your blood sugar.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to limit your intake of net carbs and protein, and instead, consume higher amounts of healthy fats such as seeds, nuts, olives, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.

To decrease your stress, practice mindfulness throughout the day. This will help lower your levels of anxiety and allow you to focus on the present moment. Practice meditation to take a few breaks throughout the day and focus on your breathing.

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