Good morning everyone – Today we are looking at a topic which many don´t recognise as being associated with blood sugar imbalances. Stress!
Does Stress affect our blood sugar levels?
The most important thing is to not get “stressed” about your sugar free days, otherwise your hard work will be counter productive and your body will release more of the stress hormone “cortisol”. Instead build up on making swaps (shown yesterday,) which you can incorporate into your daily life.
Stress leads to sugar spikes
When we’re faced with a stressor, our whole body responds. A stressor for our ancestors might have been a bear in the wild, while a common stressor today is the fear of losing a job. But the body’s response is the same. Our adrenal glands produce hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, which prepares the body to act. These hormones trigger the liver to release glycogen – long chains of sugar molecules stored in our liver for emergencies. The rush of sugar can give us an energy boost to run from, or confront, a threat.
That’s a natural and needed response to help us deal with a crisis. But what happens when we’re repeatedly feeling stressed over issues we can’t immediately resolve? We end up with chronic stress. This means our hypothalamus – the fear centre of the brain – is almost always activated to some degree. We end up with high stress hormone levels that frequently cause our bodies to release stored sugars. (We also “stress eat” to restock our sugar stores).
The repeated sugar spikes mean the insulin receptors that let sugars pass into our cells get worn out. Over time, the pancreas has to release more and more insulin to help get the sugars through the worn out insulin receptors. This is known as insulin resistance.
Eventually, the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin process sugar, leading to diabetes. A review of dozens of studies found people with long-term anxiety and depression were more likely to develop diabetes. https://www.discoverymedicine.com/Frans-Pouwer/2010/02/11/does-emotional-stress-cause-type-2-diabetes-mellitus-a-review-from-the-european-depression-in-diabetes-edid-research-consortium/
Relationship between Cortisol & Insulin
Cortisol is insulins counterpart. Amongst many other functions, cortisol takes sugar stored in the liver (glycogen) and puts it into the blood stream. To keep things simple, insulin lowers blood sugar and cortisol raises blood sugar. When insulin goes up to lower blood sugar from the foods eaten or drinks consumed, cortisol goes up as well.
Since stress causes the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands, insulin is released to bring it back down again – so you can see why stress impacts blood sugar balance!
Elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels. In other words, stress is one of many factors that can contribute to insulin resistance (prediabetes) and diabetes risk.
So aim to put yourself at the top of your “to do” list for a week, do things that make you happy and focus on all the colourful nourishing foods you can enjoy.