Diabetes - Blood Sugar Stress
Blood Sugar Stress is a term used by natural healthcare providers to address a number of conditions that involve abnormalities in blood sugar metabolism. Disturbances in blood sugar metabolism range from milder functional disturbances modifiable by diet and supplements to pathological conditions that require medication. Conditions include hypoglycemia, insulin resistance and diabetes.
Under normal circumstances, carbohydrates ingested during a meal or snack are broken into simple sugars. Foods that contain carbohydrates include bread,pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and sweets. These sugars are absorbed through the lining of the intestines and into your blood. This has the effect of raising the level of sugar in your blood. The sugar that is absorbed into the blood is used for energy by your cells, stored in the liver as glycogen or converted to fats and stored in fat cells.
In order for this sugar to be used, converted and/or stored by your cells it has to first enter the cells. Sugar isn't absorbed automatically into cells. It needs help from the sugar hormone called insulin. Unless insulin is secreted in response to the rise in blood sugar from a meal, the sugar will remain in the blood; if it remains in the blood it is unuseable.
Once your blood sugar rises the pancreas in response secretes insulin. The insulin acts as a key that unlocks the cell door and allows sugar to pass into the cells. The movement of sugar from the blood into cells causes the blood sugar level to drop.
After 1-2 hours the blood sugar drops back to pre-meal levels. The body then secretes a second group of hormones to prevent the blood sugar from dropping too far. These hormones include glucagon from the pancreas and glucocorticoids from the adrenal glands. These hormones have the opposite effect on blood sugar. They stimulate the release sugar from the glycogen stores in the liver and the conversion of certain amino acids to sugar. The release and converted sugars are released into the blood where they remain available for cells to use as needed.
Factors that contribute to blood sugar abnormalities include insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes. These factors are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Insulin Resistance - This subject has gained much attention in recent years and has been the focus of much research in the past 10 years. Insulin resistance occurs when cells the response adequately to insulin start responding less and less. Poor response form cells lead to higher blood sugar levels and increases in the production and secretion of insulin. Some scientists believe that chronic insulin resistance may contribute to pancreatic fatigue and eventual reduction of insulin production.
Hyperinsulinemia - is excess secretion of insulin. A number of theories have been suggested to explain excess insulin levels. These theories include insulin resistance, low fat diets, excess carbohydrate intake, excess caloric intake, poor sleep habits and stress. Metabolic Syndrome - is a syndrome believed to be caused by excess insulin. The syndrome is associated with many of the risk factor commonly associated with cardiovascular disease. These include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol.
Diabetes - occurs when the ability to control blood sugar is severely compromised. Diabetes can be caused by a reduction or absence of insulin and/or by poor response of cells to insulin. In both case the average level of blood sugar over time rises above normal. The higher levels of blood sugar can lead to damage in the blood vessels, eye, and kidneys.
Type I Diabetes - accounts for approximately 5-10% of all cases of diabetes. This type of diabetes tends to happen early in life and is caused by auto-immune damage to the pancreas. Auto-immune damage means that the bodies own immune system attacks the pancreas and causes destruction of the cells that secrete insulin. The reduction or elimination of insulin secreting cells leads loss of normal blood sugar regulation and a consequential rise in blood sugar levels. In most cases Type I diabetes leads to a lifelong requirement for insulin replacement therapy.
Type II Diabetes - accounts for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs later in life and is caused when insulin secretions fall below normal and/or the cells' ability to respond to insulin secretions is reduced. This leads to a loss of normal blood sugar regulation and a consequential rise in blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes is often treated with medication. In most cases, it is also responsive to lifestyle changes and functional medicine. Diet, exercise, sleeping habits and stress can affect the course of type II diabetes. A combination of these factors can often lead to the normalization of blood sugar metabolism.
Factors that contribute to blood sugar abnormalities include no exercise, poor diet and excess caloric intake. These factors are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Diet - may also contribute to this problem. An excess intake of calories which eventually leads to overweight and obesity is associated with insulin resistance and Hyperinsulinemia. Some researchers believe that insulin resistance and Hyperinsulinemia are early warning signs of type II diabetes.
Sedentary Lifestyle - An inactive lifestyle is a contributor to blood sugar problems. Individuals who do not get enough physical activity on a regular basis are more likely to develop blood sugar problems. In addition, regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise significantly reduces the risk of heart, strokes and blood vessel disease.
Sleep - Recent research has demonstrated that cellular response to insulin is reduced in individuals who get less that 8 hours of sleep per day.
Signs of possible Blood Sugar Stress are many. They include increased urination, obesity, hypertension, intolerance to sugar, abnormal craving for sweets or snacks and cardiovascular disease. Our Symptom Survey analysis can screen for early signs of Blood Sugar Stress.
There are three main lifestyle factors that can aggravate or contribute to Blood Sugar Stress.
Diet - sensible dieting will reduce cardiovascular risk. High protein/fat/high monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) diet often help with weight reduction, improved insulin response, reduced Hyperinsulinemia and reduced cardiovascular risk.
Exercise - Even moderate-intensity physical activities done on a regular basis can over the long term promote better health and lower risk of blood sugar disturbances. Vigorous activities are associated with greater benefits. Studies have shown that exercise can help lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, improve diabetes and promote weight loss in obese and overweight individuals, as well as lower blood pressure in some people.
Sleep - It is important to get enough rest and sleep. Recent studies have demonstrated negative effects of sleep deprivation on insulin resistance and insulin secretion.