Sometimes you don’t know where a conversation is going to take you, especially when it’s with your best girlfriend. Emily called her best friend Hannah, who happened to be a Functional Nutritionist. Emily was on the verge of tears due to sleep deprivation and unexplainable anxiety. She hadn’t slept over 5 hours in weeks. She had been more stressed lately due to deadlines at work and family responsibilities. One of the ﬁrst questions her friend Hannah asked her was “Have you checked your blood sugar?” Her more than sarcastic response was, “I’m not a diabetic, I’m tired!” Hannah understood her frustration since these symptoms were common amongst the women she dealt with in her practice. Emily went on to tell Hannah that she wasn’t able to exercise due to her overbooked schedule. This wasn’t helping the weight around her waistline as it was increasing at a steady rate. A Functional Nutritionist is always searching for the root cause of their client’s condition. Hannah was determined to help a friend out. In Emily’s case it was clear to Hannah that a hormone imbalance was contributing to her symptoms.
So what does blood sugar have to do with it? Insulin helps keep your blood sugar leveled out. It is a hormone made by the pancreas that enables your body to use the sugars from carbohydrates that give you energy or are stored as glucose for later use. After you eat, your blood sugar rises and signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin attaches to your cells and signals the cells to absorb sugar. Without insulin, sugar cannot get into the cell.
A person’s blood sugar can be too high or too low at any point of the day, even when you sleep. Good sleep sets us up for health, weight loss, secretion of growth hormone, normalizes cortisol levels during the day (growth hormone and cortisol regulate belly fat), and improves memory. Blood sugar plays a big part in your ability to stay asleep. When blood sugar is unstable, sleep erodes–typically with early morning awakenings between about 2 and 5 a.m.
This explains why Hannah spends so much time with her clients focusing on their blood sugar and sleep patterns. So how does one ﬁgure out if their blood sugar is off? If interrupted sleep is a norm and you have a difﬁcult time getting back to sleep, suspect a blood sugar imbalance. Do you hit the wall around 2:30pm at work and crave sugar? You’re probably dealing with a blood sugar imbalance. The only way to get balance and energy back into your life is by looking at your foods of choice, what times you eat, recognize cravings, acknowledge your mood/s after eating, and record your quality/quantity of sleep. A glucometer is a great tool to track your blood sugar. You can find one at your nearest drugstore.
Tracking your blood sugar for 7-10 days will help you understand why you feel the way you do when you do. Fasting blood sugar above 85 mg/dL indicates there could be a problem with insulin resistance. However, mainstream doctors only tell you there’s a problem if your blood sugar is > 125 mg/dL, which may lead to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Functional Nutritionists work on educating their clients to give them the tools they need to prevent disease and illness.
If any of these signs or symptoms sound familiar to you, take action today. Don’t know where to turn? Look for a Functional Medicine Doctor and/or Nutritionist that will help you navigate your puzzle. No piece should be left out or unnoticed.