What exactly happens inside of you when you eat that big or even small dessert?

Did you know that when you eat carbohydrates in any form, whether it’s refined sugar, processed foods, grains, natural sweeteners, or even fruits and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and cassava your body turns it into sugar?

It’s true! 

All carbohydrates, even the so-called “healthy ones”, are turned into sugar (a.k.a glucose) inside our body during the digestive process!

Once the glucose is in the blood, the pancreas is immediately alerted by your brain to pump out the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to get the glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells so that it can be used as energy or stored for later use.  To put it simply, insulin is doing its best to keep your blood sugar balanced by ensuring there is never too much in circulation and instead is being used by the cells for energy.  

In a perfect scenario, as the glucose comes into the blood, the insulin shuttles it to the cells and it is turned into ATP (the technical term for energy in our body) inside of our mitochondria, the energy producers of our cells.

It seems like this should be a no brainer for our body to carry out these processes however many of us are struggling with blood sugar imbalances due to poor diet and lifestyle habits. 

How so?

Well, for many of us, our diets are overwhelmingly filled with carbohydrates.  We eat oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for dinner.  As well as high carb snack bars for our on-the-go snacks! The constant barrage of carbohydrates, especially those coming from processed and refined sources, leads to skyrocketing insulin levels!

My past self is guilty of this lifestyle which led to hypoglycemia, undetected insulin resistance, and high blood sugar!

Hypoglycemia (a.k.a “low blood sugar”) is one of the first stages of blood sugar dysregulation and, if undetected (which it often is!) can lead to further damage inside of your body.  When we eat a high carbohydrate meal, we may feel an initial surge of energy as the glucose enters our cells.

However, that over flooding of carbohydrates in our body leads to high insulin levels which cause our blood sugar to drop and ultimately, our energy to plummet!  

You know that mid-afternoon slump?  That’s typically a sign of blood sugar issues. 

What else might you be experiencing if you deal with hypoglycemia?

  • Unstable moods,
  • Energy dips throughout the day,
  • Feeling shaky or anxious if/when meals are delayed,
  • Difficulty staying asleep,
  • Intense food cravings, and
  • Inability to go longer than 2-3 hours without your next dose of food!

As we go about consuming too many carbohydrates, our pancreas continues to pump out high levels of insulin to try and get all of the glucose out of the blood and into the cells.  This may seem like it’s okay but our cells, which are likely at their glucose capacity, stop responding to insulin’s knock! This is better known as “insulin resistance” .

Our bodies are not made to handle the excessive amounts of carbohydrates that we consume on a daily basis.  Our blood can best handle just 5 grams at a time. 5 grams is equal to just 1 teaspoon of sugar!

So what happens next?

Well, if the cells stop responding to increased levels of insulin, you are now left with high blood glucose (a.k.a., high blood sugar or hyperglycemia)!

This means, instead of your cells utilizing the glucose for energy production, your body is saturated with it.  This feeds inflammation, high cortisol, and high blood pressure!

But our bodies are smart.  Since your insulin is unable to bring the glucose into your cells, it does the next smartest thing it can do: convert the glucose into triglycerides and shuttle it off to your fat cells for storage!

To recap so far: 

Too many carbohydrates —> hypoglycemia (“low blood sugar”) —> insulin resistance —-> hyperglycemia (“high blood sugar”) —> conversion of glucose to triglycerides —> stored in fat cells

People who are hyperglycemic can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling tired all the time,
  • Having trouble falling asleep,
  • Waking up feeling groggy,
  • Craving sweets and other carbohydrates,
  • Tired after eating,
  • Feeling depressed or have other mood imbalances,
  • Experience joint pain,
  • Thyroid dysfunction,
  • Slow healing,
  • Difficulty remembering things,
  • Brain fog, and
  • Possibly even accelerated aging!

But we aren’t done yet!

When the cells ignore glucose, blood sugar levels soar and insulin levels remain high setting the stage for Metabolic Syndrome and Pre-diabetes. The result is an exhausted pancreas that cannot produce insulin effectively. The levels of inflammation in the body rise dramatically due to excessive cortisol production and high blood sugar!

At this point, the next step would be Diabetes!  This is what almost happened to me. When I finally took a look at my blood sugar and my insulin 10 years ago, I was shocked to see such high blood sugar and barely any insulin left to deal with it.  And because I looked healthy on the outside, no one had thought to check. Diabetes can happen to the best of us, you don’t have to be overweight to become a Diabetic.

Unfortunately, Diabetes isn’t the only disease one can endure as a result of blood sugar dysregulation. 

Several other degenerative, chronic illnesses follow in the path of insulin resistance. These can include:

  • Cancer,
  • Cardiovascular Disease,
  • Hypertension,
  • Obesity,
  • Immune System Impairment,
  • Hormone Imbalances,
  • Fertility Issues,
  • Chronic Fatigue,
  • Depression, and 
  • Hyperactivity.

Every one of them is linked back to a high carbohydrate diet and the effects of excess insulin on our body’s function!

Fortunately, blood sugar imbalances such as these are, for the most part and except in very late stages, reversible with simple dietary changes, lifestyle improvements, and personalized nutritional therapy support. 

There is so much you can do to normalize your blood sugar and it is not hard at all, especially if you have someone to guide you along the way!

For now, here are 7 things you can start doing today to balance your blood sugar!

  1. Never eat after dinner and leave 3 hours between dinner and bedtime
  2. Eat only 3 times a day (i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  3. Eat every 4-6 hours and try not to snack
  4. Ensure you are eating well balanced meals in the appropriate portions
  5. Address your cravings by looking closely at why you are eating 
  6. Take 3 deep breaths before each meal and eat slowly and calmly
  7. Eat a breakfast that is low in carbohydrates and includes protein and healthy fats

We used to think that glucose was the best source of energy for the body but now we know that is not true!  Fat is by far the most efficient form of energy in the body. The brain and heart even prefer fat to glucose as their primary energy source! We just have to transition our body from carbohydrate burning to fat burning!

To learn more about changing your diet and replacing carbohydrates with fat you can read this article all about ketosis or you can reach out to me at vonni@purehealthtransitions.com to schedule your Discovery session where we can review your health goals and concerns and set you up on a path to well being!