Estimated reading time: 50 minute(s)
Unlocking the Secrets: Key Factors Affecting Blood Sugar Levels
Discover what affects blood sugar levels and how to manage them for optimal wellness and longevity.
Blood glucose levels play a critical role in our metabolic health.
It reflects the amount of glucose in our blood vessels, which serves as the primary energy source for our cells.
The body maintains a delicate balance of blood sugar levels to manage blood sugar spikes.
Several factors can affect this balance and cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Have you recently started using a blood glucose monitoring device and want to understand the effect of high blood glucose and the impact of blood sugar spikes?
Do you ever feel like your energy levels are not what they used to be?
So now you want to learn how to lower your blood sugar levels as you are worried that if left untreated, it could lead to diabetes.
We all go through long periods of fatigue, but these could be early signs of insulin resistance for those over 50 years old.
Unlocking the Secrets: Key Factors Affecting Blood Sugar Levels
What affects blood sugar levels
This article will explore the connection between balancing high blood sugar levels and creating mitochondria.
The impact these two have on the body and how to maintain that delicate balance needed to restore energy levels as we age to regulate insulin properly.
First, you will understand the role and importance of your blood glucose level in delivering energy and clarify the key factors affecting this delicate balance of hormones.
Then, we will explore how to maintain stable energy levels and address some common misconceptions about blood sugar level control.
So, let’s unlock the secrets of keeping your blood sugar levels in check to take control of your metabolic health and improve your quality of life as you age.
The Role of Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is a type of sugar that comes from our food and is the primary energy source for our cells.
Our body’s digestive system breaks down carbohydrates from food into glucose, entering our bloodstream and travelling to our cells for energy.
When it comes to energy, blood sugar levels that are too high or too low can cause a variety of symptoms, including low energy, fatigue, mood swings and anxiety, which are clues to poor metabolic health.
As we age, our bodies may become less efficient at regulating blood glucose levels due to changes in hormones and metabolism.
This can lead to a decline in energy levels and make it challenging to maintain an active lifestyle and reduce health problems in the future.
The Role of Mitochondria in Energy Levels
The decline in energy levels as we age is due to the quality of the mitochondria, which are tiny organelles that act as the powerhouses of our cells.
They need glucose and oxygen to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of our cells.
ATP is a molecule that cells use to store and transfer energy.
Each blood sugar molecule delivers energy to your body’s various cells individually.
They have different roles in your body, but they all need to create mitochondria, the energy centre and the life cycle of every cell.
The amount of mitochondria in each cell depends on the job of that cell.
For example, your heart and your brain need more mitochondria inside their cell membrane than compared to your skin cells.
These organs demand higher energy and need more efficient energy production.
In contrast, our skin cells do not require as much energy and have fewer mitochondria.
However, the common thread amongst all cells is their reliance on blood sugar to fuel the production of ATP by mitochondria.
Energy movement through the cell membrane creates communication for nerve stimulation, enzyme creation, and hormone release.
When the delivery of the energy to the cell membrane is impaired.
The ability to generate ATP within the mitochondria is inhibited.
The number and function of mitochondria can decline as they are influenced by the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar spikes.
Leading to lower energy levels and an increased risk of chronic diseases.
Therefore, it is essential to maintain healthy blood sugar levels to support the production and function of mitochondria for optimal energy and overall wellness.
Energy delivery into the cell is impaired, and the quality and function of the mitochondria will inhibit and impact the organ’s functionality, such as causing nerve damage, blurred vision, and ageing skin.
5 Key Factors Affecting Blood Sugar Levels
So here’s the catch: the delicate balance of our blood sugar levels is influenced by our endocrine system, which regulates all hormone production.
Hormones are chemical messengers that play a significant role in our bodies’ functions, including regulating blood sugar levels.
Therefore, any hormone imbalance can affect blood sugar levels and lead to fluctuations.
Five key factors that affect blood sugar levels include:
- Consuming a large amount of simple carbohydrates, such as sugars and refined grains
- Stress: emotional, physical, and/or perceived
- Physical activity: walking, yoga, cardio, HITT
- Poor sleep quality
- Medications: painkillers, NSAIDs, anti-biotics, corticosteroids and beta-blockers.
All these factors interfere with blood sugar regulation and raise blood sugar levels.
Consequences of poor blood sugar control
Poor control over blood sugar levels can be a precursor to insulin resistance, wherein cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin.
Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is critical in regulating blood sugar levels by facilitating glucose uptake to deliver into the cells to create mitochondria.
When the body is resistant to insulin, the pancreas compensates by producing even more insulin to get cells to respond in an attempt to raise your blood sugar levels.
Over time, this compensatory mechanism can fail, leading to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream.
Therefore, maintaining good control over blood sugar levels is essential for maintaining high energy levels and preventing insulin resistance and, ultimately, diabetes.
These key factors can result in insulin resistance, which is the loss of insulin sensitivity in the cell.
This loss of insulin sensitivity can lead to a range of chronic diseases, such as stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Furthermore, this insulin resistance directly impacts the ability of our cells to produce and utilize energy efficiently from the sugar we consume.
In addition to causing fatigue and low energy levels, an imbalance in blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance can also contribute to weight gain, increased inflammation and oxidative stress, and a decline in metabolic health.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells become less sensitive to insulin, and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to compensate.
To cope with the demand for more insulin, the cell needs energy to create ATP.
What other hormones affect blood sugars
Your endocrine system determines which hormones are released into the bloodstream concerning which message has been sent from the brain.
Each hormone individually has its responsibility, but when it comes to metabolic pathways, they will come together and work as a team to deliver the energy into the cell for everybody’s benefit.
The hormones are the keys to the locks on each cell membrane, which act as a gatekeeper or receptors.
Each lock must have the right key to open up and let the molecule in, as insulin is not the only hormone that influences the balance of your blood sugars.
The other hormones influencing energy delivery into the cell will determine where and how the undelivered energy is stored.
The hormones generally work on a negative feedback loop to maintain homeostasis.
When the five factors that influence blood sugar levels continue for an extended period, the negative feedback loop stops working efficiently, which is when a hormonal imbalance occurs.
This can lead to further complications and chronic diseases if left unaddressed.
Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes balanced nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management techniques, and proper medication use (if necessary) to support optimal blood sugar regulation and overall wellness.
Effect of hormones to balance blood sugar levels
Your sugar levels rise when your diet contains high levels of simple carbohydrates.
The blood glucose must be delivered into the cell, but when in excess, it will be converted for storage in the liver or muscles later; when the brain says so, the stored energy is released back into the blood and delivered as required.
Issues arise when there is too much demand to regulate blood sugar levels; your cells become sensitive to the charms of insulin and, as a result, need more insulin to get you out of bed.
But your liver has picked up the energy, leaving your brain still wanting more as fewer mitochondria have been created.
When this is happening, you’ll experience things like brain fog, lack of concentration or headaches and migraines.
You have the energy in your blood, but your cells cannot get access to the energy.
The key (insulin) is not opening the lock.
Your receptors are not responding.
One of the reasons this happens is STRESS.
Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which disrupts energy delivery into cells as creates high blood sugar levels.
Interestingly, people tend to choose high, simple carbohydrates when stressed, contributing to the vicious cycle of trying to balance blood sugar levels.
Any threat perceived by the brain is classed as stress.
The instant response to any stress is to release adrenaline, to trigger the conversion of stored glucose in the liver and muscles back into glucose, and then the release of insulin to put the energy into the cell so you can run away.
The adrenaline stimulators will raise your blood sugars quickly.
Uncommonly known daily stressors that also affect blood sugar levels are hunger, dehydration, and caffeine.
The hormone reaction can be triggered by simple actions, such as getting up in the morning, attending a yoga class or taking the dog for a walk.
Why does stress raise blood sugar levels?
Cortisol is the hormone that tells the liver to produce more glucose and release it back into the bloodstream.
However, if you do not need this energy instantly, as when you are sitting at your desk or watching TV, your body cannot use all this excess glucose in the blood.
Hence, cortisol stimulates an increase in insulin production to get glucose out of the bloodstream.
But, when the blood sugar levels are already high, this additional demand for insulin will result in too much being removed from the blood, leading to a sharp drop in blood sugar levels.
This can cause dizziness, shakiness, and irritability until you eat something or balance your hormones.
But I do NOT feel stressed.
Think of a beautiful Swan.
Imagine gracefully gliding through life while beneath or inside stresses are being managed.
The more cortisol is released, the higher your blood sugar levels remain, and the more fat is stored.
Initially, this excess energy is stored in your liver cells. And then, with time, they get sent to the adipose tissue by organs for short-term storage, as there is hope that the stress will stop soon.
The problem arises when the current stress of the day subsides; the cells do not have the energy, due to insulin resistance, to trigger all the metabolic pathways to get the previously stored fat.
Instead, the brain will trigger a backup plan and release a cascade of hungry hormones, known as leptin and ghrelin, to make you feel hungry.
These hormones take over and decide it’s much easier to get the fresh glucose into the blood than to convert the previously stored fat.
So, the brain will signal a drop in blood sugar levels and create a sugar craving.
And as you know, when coming down from a stressful day, food choices tend to be high glucose, stimulating foods.
I often liken this to digging out last summer’s dresses in the springtime.
All the new items in the stores are colourful, fashionable, and gorgeous.
Why would you go into the loft or to the garage to get out last year’s stuff when you can have this lovely new, clean, fresh-smelling one right in front of you in the shop?
And this is how you become insulin resistant and store the fat.
The long-term consequences of poor metabolic health are that the main role of cortisol is to manage stress, but its secondary role is to reduce inflammation.
If you spent the day using your cortisol to manage your blood sugar levels, then there’s not much left to deal with the repair and immunity.
The result of this is regular aches and pains, allergies, and generally feeling low mood, anxiety and depression.
A way to break this cycle of sugar cravings and fatigue is a weight training exercise.
This will help to increase muscle mass and mitochondrial density, which means you’ll have more energy-generating powerhouses in your cells — mitochondria.
With weight training, there is also an increased demand for glucose by your muscles.
This increases insulin sensitivity over time because the more energy you have from fat, the less insulin you need to get into a cell.
As a result, you’ll reduce insulin resistance by holding off blood sugar levels from spiking too high, which helps reduce inflammation.
Other factors that affect hormonal balance and blood sugar regulation
Aside from stress management, another factor that can affect hormonal balance and blood sugar regulation is poor sleep quality.
Poor sleep quality disrupts the circadian rhythm regulated by the hormones melatonin and cortisol.
Melatonin promotes sleep, while cortisol helps keep you awake and alert during the day.
When these two hormones are out of balance due to lack of sleep, they can increase insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances.
The final factor is over-the-counter medication such as painkillers, NSAIDs, antihistamines, and HRT.
Painkillers can raise blood sugar levels by decreasing insulin sensitivity, while certain medications such as HRT can affect hormone balance and lead to insulin resistance.
Medication impacts blood sugar levels due to the liver’s contribution in metabolizing these substances and regulating blood levels.
The liver is responsible for clearing medications from the bloodstream, but it also releases stored glucose into the blood in response to glucose consumption and stress.
Therefore, any medication interacting with the liver can indirectly affect blood sugar levels.
Body shape affects blood sugar levels
Another interesting point is where our body will store this fat.
When your blood sugar rises and falls throughout the day, the overproduction of insulin reduces the sensitivity.
Low blood sugar creates stress, which will trigger the release of cortisol, and the process repeats itself.
As we’re all individuals, our body likes to response differently and give us clues as to which hormones influence our fat storage when managing high blood sugar levels.
For example, if you are Apple Shaped, you store most of your excessive weight around the middle due to the excessive cortisol levels influencing your blood sugar levels.
Avocado Shape is when you store fat around the sort of back more than at the front, more love handles than belly, then the sensitivity of your cells to insulin is very low.
You will easily store these excess carbohydrates as fat.
Pear Shaped, if you store most of your weight and the bottom half of your body, a slimmer waist than your thighs, then this is about your estrogen levels and HRT consumption influencing your fat storage.
Strawberry Shaped is the opposite.
You’ll often find more weight in the top half of the body, for example, across your back; this indicates the overproduction of thyroxine or an imbalance in the conversion from t4 to t3 due to prolonged cortisol demands.
These are specific ways to identify where your body stores the fat and how and why it does it due to the spikes and falls in blood sugar levels.
So when your blood sugar rises and falls throughout the day, the overproduction of insulin reduces the sensitivity. The low blood sugar creates stress, which will trigger the release of cortisol, and the whole process repeats itself.
The goal is to break this cycle of hormonal imbalances and address the root causes.
It is important to focus on stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few deep breaths throughout the day.
Additionally, incorporating weight training into your exercise routine can help increase muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity.
Ensuring quality sleep and being mindful of any medication’s potential impact on blood sugar levels can also contribute to maintaining hormonal balance and regulating blood sugar levels.
Finally, understanding your body shape and how it responds to fluctuations in blood sugar levels can give valuable insights into managing weight and overall health.
By addressing these factors, we can work towards maintaining a healthy metabolic state and reducing the risk of long-term consequences of insulin resistance.
The biggest takeaway from this lesson is that balancing your blood sugars is not about losing weight. It’s about the delivery of energy to every cell in your body.
• Blood sugar levels are the primary energy source for cells and fluctuate due to various factors, including hormones.
• Mitochondria in the cells need glucose and oxygen to produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the energy currency of our cells.
• Five key factors that affect blood sugar levels include simple carbs, stress, physical activity, sleep quality and medication use.
• Poor blood sugar control can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause fatigue, weight gain and increased inflammation.
• Other hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, thyroxine, leptin, and ghrelin influence energy delivery into cells.
• Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which disrupts energy delivery into cells
• Poor sleep quality can disrupt melatonin and cortisol rhythm, affecting insulin resistance
• Medications can indirectly impact blood sugar levels because they affect liver metabolic functions.
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for achieving optimal metabolic health.
It is essential to consider the factors that affect blood sugar regulation and make necessary lifestyle changes to support healthy metabolism.
Incorporating weight training, managing stress levels, getting quality sleep, limiting simple carb intake, and being mindful of medication use can all improve blood sugar balance and better overall health.
Remember, our bodies constantly work to maintain balance and support energy delivery into every cell. It is up to us to provide the necessary support through healthy lifestyle choices.
So, listening to your body and adjusting for optimal health is essential.
By understanding the role of blood sugar levels in cellular energy production and the factors that can disrupt this process, you can take control of your health and support your body’s natural ability to maintain balance and thrive.