Written by Gabby Borgerink
When you think about hormones you probably don’t associate it with our blood sugar, however there is a big connection between the two.
When our blood sugar is balanced we have reduced stress hormones, healthy ovulation, and good progesterone levels. But when our blood sugar is spiking and dipping constantly, this puts our body in a stressful rollercoaster. You will learn throughout this article as well, that sugar is not the big issue when it comes to blood sugar. There are many factors!
When we allow our blood sugar to dip too low, our cortisol rises and our body must produce its own fuel - aka glucose from stored glycogen in our liver and muscles. This is an extremely energy intensive task and stressful on the body. This is a very common factor in PCOS and irregular/symptomatic cycles.
Ensuring we are eating regular meals, along with eating blood-sugar balancing meals and consuming quality fats is the key to balanced blood sugar and hormones.
Signs of imbalanced blood sugar or insulin resistance:
- Mood swings
- Hormonal headaches
- PCOS or irregular cycles
- Poor quality sleep
- Acne or skin issues
Macronutrient combinations and regularly timed snacks and meals are key to balanced blood sugar. They are called macronutrients for a reason! Cutting out one or restricting a few will lead to nutrient deficiencies and imbalanced blood sugar. We want to have protein, fat and carbohydrates at each meal and snack. That could look like:
If you eat protein on its own, this can actually lower your blood sugar too much. If you eat carbohydrates on their own, they can spike blood sugar, and then it quickly falls leaving you in a low blood sugar state. As you can see they all work synergistically. When you look back at traditional meals in almost every culture, there is always at least one food from each macronutrient group included. Of course every person may need smaller or larger ratios of each macronutrient so it will take some time to find what works best for you.
What about micronutrients?
Although they are called micronutrients, they are just as important as macronutrients. There are many nutrients that are important. But when it comes to blood sugar balance, potassium and magnesium are the key for insulin sensitivity. Insulin is released when we consume carbohydrates and is similar to a key that is used to unlock a door (aka our cell) so that glucose can go in to nourish and promote healthy hormone production, energy production, brain function, etc. These minerals are commonly depleted under times of stress and we aren't getting enough in our modern diets.
Foods to include that are rich in potassium (the average woman needs 4,700 mg/day)
- 100% organic fruit juices (no added sugar, preservatives or flavours)
- Aloe vera juice
- Coconut water
- Fruit and potatoes
- Grass-fed dairy
- Lamb and grass-fed beef.
Magnesium is depleted in our soils and my preferred way to get in magnesium is through
- Magnesium glycinate supplements
- Magnesium flakes in your bath
- Magnesium oil, spray, gel or cream applied topically
Processed inflammatory, unstable fats such as canola, vegetable, soybean, etc., are secret contributors to insulin resistance and imbalanced blood sugar.
These oils can be contributing to our cell's inflammation and imbalanced blood sugar. You may not see an immediate connection, but these fats make our cells inflamed, which makes our cells rigid and unfortunately resistant to insulin which means glucose is left in our blood stream rather than getting into the cell to be used for fuel. Our body also keeps secreting more and more insulin
Healthy fatsLuckily, there are plenty of heat-stable, nourishing fats will support our cells and balance blood sugar, including
- Coconut oil, MCT oil, coconut cream or milk
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- Avocado oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for salad dressings or drizzling on top of food after it is cooked)
Incorporating some of these tips will help support your blood sugar over time. Every little habit counts and consistency is key. Remember that it takes months, if not years to get to this point.
Gabby Borgerink is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner who works with women to educate about hormones and how they can support their body through nutrition and lifestyle. After her experience coming off hormonal contraception and trying both conventional and alternative health care, Gabby believes in the power of listening to your body and getting to the root cause of your health problems through a holistic approach. Her goal is for women to take back the power of their menstrual cycle and support them in balancing their hormones from a bio-individual approach. Visit her website or find her on Instagram to connect and learn more.