Currently, in the United States millions of people have prediabetes.  Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are above normal, but have not reached levels high enough to be full-blown diabetes.  And, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 97.6 million people or %38 of people aged 18 or older in the United States have prediabetes.  This number jumps to almost %50 of people 65 years or older.  This matters for both macro and micro health, so let’s break both down.

Macro Health Outlook

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the primary source of energy for your body’s cells.  When blood sugar levels are imbalanced chronically over time it creates other health issues that are fully preventable, but can become problematic by shortening your lifespan significantly and impacting your quality of life.  Prediabetes is a warning sign that a person is at increased risk of developing the following conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes:  Without intervention a person with prediabetes is at risk of developing this health issue within 5-10 years.  
  • Cardiovascular disease:  Prediabetes is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure & high cholesterol.  Elevated blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and increase atherosclerosis, which is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries.

Micro Health Outlook

When blood sugar levels are too high cells may become resistant to insulin, which is the hormone that helps glucose enter the cells.  This resistance can prevent glucose from being effectively utilized by cells for energy.  In addition, when blood sugar levels get too low, there may not be enough glucose available to fuel metabolic processes in the body.  Oftentimes people who are having issues with blood sugar are swinging between these two states of high and low blood sugar,  which can cause a cascading effect of symptoms that people are experiencing daily and may not know it could be related to an imbalance of their blood sugar.  

5 Signs You May Have Blood Sugar Imbalance

  1. Fatigue & Energy Swings:  Blood sugar spikes followed by crashes can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy.  You might notice a burst of energy after consuming sugary foods or drinks (or even just high carb meals or fruit), followed by a rapid drop in energy levels once your body processes the sugar.  In addition, when the body is in periods of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, the body may release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to raise blood sugar levels.  This can provide a temporary energy boost, but is often followed by an energy crash.  All of this spiking and crashing may leave your body feeling tired and drained.   
  2. Extreme Hunger or Appetite Changes:  If you find yourself feeling excessively hungry shortly after eating or experiencing sudden cravings, it could be a sign of fluctuating blood sugar levels.  Blood sugar imbalance can cause you to feel hunger even if you just ate simply because the cells are not receiving enough glucose for energy, which prompts hunger cues.
  3. Mood Swings & Irritability:  Fluctuating blood sugar levels can affect your mood.  Most people have heard of being “hangry,” which is feeling angry because you’re actually hungry.  Most people equate that feeling with low blood sugar, but the swinging between low and high blood sugar can both cause feelings of agitation, irritability and anxiety.
  4. Hormone Imbalance:  chronic blood sugar imbalance may disrupt the delicate interplay and secretion of various hormones in the body.  This may be a particular issue for women who have PCOS.  By maintaining stable blood sugar levels it may prevent hormone imbalances that can lead to metabolic dysfunction, weight gain, infertility, PMS and other hormonal issues.
  5. Brain Fog:  Glucose is particularly important for brain function, as the brain relies primarily on glucose for energy.  When blood sugar levels fluctuate it can impact cognitive function and mental clarity, which may lead to feelings of brain fog, difficulty concentrating and mental fatigue.

How to Support Blood Sugar Balance

  • Start your day with 30 grams of protein at breakfast.  
  • When you sit down to a meal, eat your vegetables first.
  • Get at least 10 minutes of movement in after each meal.  This can be walking, doing dishes or playing with your kid in the backyard…just don’t sit on the couch.
  • Start building more muscle through regular strength training. 

Overall, balancing blood sugar levels offers numerous benefits for physical health, mental well–being and overall quality of life.  By adopting some simple nutritional and lifestyle strategies a person can work towards optimization of their blood sugar levels and health goals in order to enjoy a greater sense of vitality.  

If you suspect you have issues with blood sugar regulation, please work with your doctor or consult your healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management.   

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