Courtesy of: Standard Process Staff Writers
What Part Do Stress and Cortisol Play?
When exposed to stress, the body initiates a chain of events (releasing stimulatory hormones) that prepare the body for either a “fight” or “flight” response. These events, which alter metabolism, require significant energy or fuel-the body needs called glucose.
Anything that causes us to feel stress raises cortisol (referred to as the “stress hormone”) levels. If we feel stressed on a regular basis, cortisol levels remain elevated. This affects metabolic processes that serve to increase blood glucose levels. Hormones affected by elevated cortisol levels include:
Because one of the primary roles of cortisol is to encourage the body to refuel itself after responding to a stressor, an elevated cortisol level keeps the appetite ramped up-so stressed people will feel hungry ALL the time.
Emphasize a Healthy, Holistic Lifestyle
When it is evident you need help with blood glucose handling, you will want to address all facets of your lifestyle, including:
There are factors that contribute to how the body responds to a stressor:
- Whether there is an outlet for the stress. Go for a run. Talk to a friend.
- Whether the stress is predictable. The more accustomed a person is to the stressor, the less pronounced the response to the stress will be.
- Whether there is control over the stressor. Learn to accept those things that cannot be changed.
Stress: The Thief of Sleep
Many studies have shown that getting less than eight hours of sleep per night causes metabolic changes. Less sleep means insufficient time for cortisol levels to drop. An increase in cortisol decreases the ability to fall asleep as well as the amount of time the mind spends in the most restful stages of deep sleep.
To foster a good night’s sleep, exercise early in the day, be consistent with lights-out and waking times, and avoid caffeine late in the evening. You may want to add deep-breathing techniques, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to sleep regimens.
Regular participation in “moderate” exercise can reduce body fat, reduce appetite, build muscle and bone, improve mental and emotional function, and stimulate the immune system. Aerobic exercise is recommended because it makes you breathe more deeply and makes the heart work harder. Intense exercise can be detrimental by elevating cortisol levels.
Learning what affects blood sugar handling in your body can make you feel more in control. You probably already know to avoid carbohydrate-laden snacks and sweets, but sometimes product labeling can be deceptive. You may not know what ingredients to watch for, like high-fructose corn syrup in sports and energy drinks. Other things to look for are excitotoxins-substances that are believed to kill or damage nerve cells through excessive stimulation. The biggest offenders are monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, which can both interfere with normal functioning of the endocrine system.
To level out blood sugar levels, you should eat more whole-grains foods containing fiber (whole-grain bread and fresh fruits and vegetables) and avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, white pasta, and white sugar. Whole grains take longer to digest due to their denseness and fiber content and won’t cause blood sugar to spike.
In addition to relieving stress, eating right, and exercising, whole food supplements and herbal products can encourage healthy blood sugar levels when combined with a healthy diet.
- Supports healthy carbohydrate digestion
- Supports healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels when already within normal ranges
- Encourages healthy blood sugar utilization at the cellular level
- Supports healthy sugar handling
- Supports healthy pancreas function
- Supports healthy bowl and gallbladder function
Gymnema 4g (MediHerb)
- Maintains healthy blood sugar levels when combined with a balanced diet
- Maintains normal cholesterol levels in a normal range
After you have embraced these lifestyle changes, re-evaluate the blood sugar levels. Continue following these tips/techniques to maintain your health and wellness. Feel free to contact me with any questions at Lynn@LynnMoralesND.com