By Kristin Rowell
From NALP Bulletin+
December 2022 edition cover story
One of the most important things you can do to take control of your health is regulate your blood sugar. Most people hear “blood sugar” and think “diabetes.” You may be asking, “why do I need to care about my blood sugar if I don’t have diabetes?” The truth is that your ability to properly regulate your blood sugar impacts your moods, energy levels, satiety, hydration, cravings, weight loss or gain, skin health, cognitive function, and sleep. So, how do you know whether you might need to take a closer look at your blood sugar? I recommend asking yourself these questions:
● Do I feel sleepy after meals?
● Do I get drowsy in the afternoon?
● Do I crave coffee and/or sugar in the afternoon?
● Do I experience fatigue that is relieved by eating?
● Am I sometimes irritable before meals?
● Do I get shaky if meals are delayed too long?
● Do I have an excessive appetite?
● Do I wake up in the middle of the night, especially between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.?
If you answered yes to some or most of these questions, you almost assuredly have some level of dysregulated blood sugar.
Now, having stable and regulated blood sugar means there is a very small amount of sugar in our blood. An interesting fact, however, is that we don’t actually have to consume any sugar, because our body can make sugar to meet its needs. The process by which the body makes sugar is a process called gluconeogenesis. The “gluco” is for glucose (i.e., sugar), “neo” is for “new,” and “genesis” means to create. In other words, gluconeogenesis is simply our body’s creation of new glucose. (It does this by converting proteins and fats to sugar.) This means that we do not have to eat any sugar and we will be just fine.
The real problem — and what has created such massive blood sugar dysregulation in this country — is that most Americans consume way too much sugar. “Normal” blood sugar means that at any given time, there is approximately 1-2 teaspoons of glucose in our bloodstreams. Yet, the average American consumes 77 teaspoons of sugar per day. This statistic is not only horrifying; it creates massive amounts of blood sugar dysregulation that puts tremendous stress on our bodies and leads to diseases.
Let’s take an example of a common burger-fries-shake meal from a fast-food restaurant. A medium-size fries contains 5 teaspoons of sugar on average. Now let’s say you decide to go through the drive-through and order a double cheeseburger, large fries, and — because you are feeling generous with yourself that day — you also order a milkshake. There are so many teaspoons of sugar in that unhealthy meal that I can barely count them.
In response to this crime scene, your body goes into emergency mode. It sets off the sirens and calls in and deploys the fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and the rest of the emergency response team to get to work. All these helpers must come to the rescue to do the one thing to save you: clean the sugar out of your blood.
How does your body do that? It cleans the sugar out of your blood by deploying insulin from your pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that is released by your pancreas in response to the consumption of carbohydrates (sugar). Very simply, insulin’s job is to clean the sugar out of your blood. Insulin works hard to bring your blood sugar back down to normal — i.e., 1-2 teaspoons. I wish insulin was so magical that it could make the sugar evaporate into thin air, but the sugar needs to go somewhere. If you move after a meal, some of that glucose is used to fuel your muscles. And yes, walking counts! One quick tip to reduce postprandial blood glucose is to walk for at least 20 minutes after a meal or do some squats. This will help lower your blood sugar.
If you do not move after your meal, then the glucose (i.e., sugar/carbohydrates) you consumed must be stored. Glucose (carbs) are stored in three different places on our bodies:
1. Your Liver, which can store approximately 400 calories of carbs/sugar;
2. Your Skeletal Muscle, which, depending on the person, can store anywhere from approximately 1,200-1,600 calories of carbs/sugar; and
3. Your Body Fat, which has an unlimited storage capacity for sugar because body fat (i.e., adipose tissue) is an organ which can just keep growing. People who are obese have a lot of stored carbohydrates (glucose) sitting in their fat tissue. The stored form of glucose in adipose (fat) tissue is called triglycerides.
If any of this is interesting to you, and if
you are interested in working to lower your blood sugar and keep it stable all
day, here are a few quick tips:
Kristin Rowell is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, health coach, and the founder and CEO of Energetically Efficient™. Kristin is also a lawyer, having practiced complex business litigation for 16 years. Kristin believes that each of us is responsible for taking control of our own health and longevity, and she firmly believes that doing so starts with tuning in and listening to the signals our bodies are always sending us. As a former high-stress business trial lawyer turned Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP), Kristin largely serves what she calls the “old” her: high-achieving, stressed-out professionals who strongly desire to prioritize their health and wellness but can’t seem to get out of their own way. Kristin is also an International Pro Elite (IPE) Natural Professional Bodybuilder in the Figure Division, she is 2018 Ms. Natural Minnesota as recognized by the North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (NANBF), and she is a 25-time marathon runner — her best of which happened after she broke her leg in 10 places in 2013.