Diabetes Care – Sugar Stress Connection
Dr. Uri Kenig, February 2013
Is glucose (sugar) good for your health?
Everyone has glucose (sugar) in their blood. It is the fuel for the body’s cells. Glucose comes from the food we eat as well as what the body produces. Insulin, produced in the pancreas, moves the sugar from the blood stream to the cells where it is used for energy. In diabetes, sugar cannot travel from the blood stream into the body cells so it stays in the blood. This is caused when either when the body does not produce enough insulin or when it does not use insulin correctly. Over time, high blood sugar, called hyperglycemia, can lead to serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, and blindness.
What is the sugar-stress connection?
Millions of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes and fluctuating sugar
levels which not surprisingly have strong associations with stress.
People with diabetes can’t keep a lid on blood sugar, says David Sledge, MD, medical director of diabetes management at The Ochsner Clinic Foundation in Baton Rouge, La. It is mainly due to an increased production of stress hormones that reduce insulin action. In addition, under stress, people tend to eat comfort foods that are loaded with sugar and avoid exercise which further exacerbates the situation.
When we are stressed, our blood glucose (sugar) levels in the body shoots up very quickly. Stress hormones like Epinephrine and Cortisol kick in. One of their major functions is to raise blood sugar to help boost energy when it’s needed most. Think of the fight-or-flight response. You can’t fight danger when your blood sugar is low, so it rises to help meet the challenge.
Stress can send our blood sugar out of whack. When it is situational and temporary it is not associated with diabetes. Generally, it is the longer-term stress reactions that tax the system and have much more effect on blood sugar levels. This is when the system is weakening.
What is Insulin resistance?
In this condition muscles, fat and liver cells are resistant to entry of glucose and as a result this sugar stays in the blood stream. Long term stress can affect Insulin resistance. The pancreas produces more insulin to deal with the problem which causes more build up of sugar in the blood. The end result is both high levels of glucose and insulin in the blood which increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How can you manage your glucose levels?
People with diabetes tend to use insulin to manage glucose level. This intervention may balance glucose levels temporarily until the next spike or drop in glucose levels. It is important to address the role stress plays in the “sugar roller coaster”. Clearing unhealthy stress reactions and developing healthy life style habits can lead to better glucose control, improvement in immune system function and reverse or minimize the diabetes conditions. Developing a well balanced diet and incorporating exercise is important as part of a comprehensive approach.
IPEC Therapy® is an integrative body-mind treatment that works to help you identify and transform how you react and cope with stress so you can get off the blood sugar roller coaster . This is done using the natural biofeedback system within your body.