Do you really know where your sugar is from?
It's really easy to demonize sugar- it's everywhere, the cause of so many health issues, and a good part of the reason why we just don't feel good, which then you know there are processes gone awry in our body...sugar anyone for that endorphin boost to make this seem less depressing?? Common sources of sugar include juices, dessert, refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flour), candy, dried fruit (if anything eat the real fruit because it's higher fiber content helps stop the quick sugar rush/crash), soda, energy drinks, flavored foods, and alcohol (gets metabolized immediately to sugar). Less obvious sources include protein bars/meal replacements/granola bars, and restaurant foods (e.g. sauces, dressings). However, sugar imbalances, including those values seen on your bloodwork like triglycerides, hgbA1c, and glucose, aren't always because of a sugar laden diet.
The other sources of sugar concerns outside of diet can stem from
- Low vitamin D
- Mood swings- Both anxiety and depression have been linked to stress and irregular cortisol curves
- Poor sleep- Melatonin (our sleep hormone) varies inversely with cortisol. Disrupted sleep, or going to bed too late messes with our natural curve
- Snacking whenever- taxing our pancreas, constant release of sugar
- Medications- statins actually raise hgbA1c
- Thyroid issues
- Magnesium deficiency (depleted by stress, caffeine, alcohol)- this mineral is literally called 'nature's relaxer)
- Outstanding concerns
- Emotional stress
- Adrenal issues (those two glands that sit on top of each kidney responsible for blood pressure, stress response, and sex hormones; e.g. low energy, can't get out of bed)
These all place stress on the body, which increases cortisol (our stress hormone), which increases sugar levels in our bloodstream. If this happens frequently enough, our pancreas, which produces insulin to take sugar into the cell, either says 'nope, not today, I'm too tired', and/or our cells say 'omg too much sugar, not letting insulin in', and we become insulin resistance. These are the main mechanisms of Type 2 Diabetes.
Regarding bloodwork, tightening the ranges to ensure optimal health (though we do need sugar to survive), aim for triglycerides between 75-100 mg/dl, hemoglobin A1c (average amount of sugar on the red blood cell after 3 months) of around 5%, and glucose between 85-92 mg/dl.
Here are some super effective ways to help get you started, crush those sugar cravings, get those numbers optimized, and feel fantastic!!:
- Gymnema - Literally called the 'sugar buster' herb. A few drops on your tongue right before you eat something sweet will nix those cravings through altering your taste buds.
- Watch out for anything that comes in a package or container - Chances are it has sugar- anything that ends in ~ose, and there's usually multiple ones. And you're not off the hook quite yet if something says sugar free, as there are sugars that bypass our biochemical ability to recognize that it even exists- freaky right? Stick to whole foods.
- Minimize certain fruits - Fruits like pineapple, banana, mangoes, figs, dried fruit, dates, all can really light up a sweet tooth. Better fruits are apples (have a decent amount of sugar, but also a lot of fiber to help prevent a sugar spike), blueberries (improve sugar levels), grapefruit, raspberries, blackberries, and avocado.
Generally speaking, we should limit daily sugar to about 20-25 g for women, and 30-38 grams for men- however, the average American consumes over 80 grams per day. Little disturbing... especially as it adds up to over 60 pounds per year. :( I also see a lot of underlying blood sugar issues in practice, even before numbers become 'out of range' on bloodwork, but we know they're heading in that direction if the processes that got you there have not been altered. If you've made some lifestyle changes, and these numbers aren't quite budging, or maybe taking a really long time, then we should chat about coming up with a plan to really make sure you're on the right track.