Why Balancing Your Blood Sugars Is Key To Balancing Your Hormones
Dr. Ashley Margeson
Mismanaged blood sugar can easily be the underlying root cause of your hormonal problems. In order to understand why blood sugar regulation is crucial to balanced hormones and symptom-free periods, lets first take a look at the hormones involved, insulin and glucagon.
hen you eat a meal, your body breaks it down to simple sugars, primarily glucose. Some glucose is used directly by the brain, but the rest is managed by insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone released by the pancreas, and its job is it to shuttle glucose from the blood into the cells (to be used as energy for tasks like growth, repair, and movement). Some of the leftover glucose goes to the liver where it is converted and stored as glycogen. The rest is stored as fat.
If you wait too long between meals or didn’t eat enough to begin with, your blood sugar dips and the pancreas responds with the hormone glucagon. Glucagon signals the liver to convert stored glycogen back to glucose and release it into the bloodstream to bring your blood sugar back up. This feedback system ensures your brain, heart and muscles get the gas they need to do their jobs.
And then sometimes, your body does this work without you wanting it to. Specifically in response to stress. At this point, your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones, primarily cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol’s main job is to increase glucose in the blood to provide the energy you need to keep you safe.
An acute cortisol release also raises blood pressure, lowers immune function, shuts down GI function, and stops ovulation. Essentially all functions that are unnecessary for immediate survival are shut down. This is because you need all available energy to fight or flee from the “perceived threat,” to literally keep you safe.
If you’re constantly under stress, or putting your body under stress by not actively balancing your blood sugar, your levels of glucose, insulin and cortisol will be constantly elevated.
Overtime this can lead to insulin resistance (when your cells become desensitized to the action of insulin), hormonal imbalance, PCOS, and a slew of other hormonal issues as a result. Not to mention some serious sugar and chocolate cravings before your period.
Eating consistently is one of the critical conversations I have with patients who are in my office because their periods are driving them insane. Start with the basics, and then jump to the complicated things only if it’s necessary. When it comes to blood sugars, consistency is key.
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