This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or highlight imperfections. You've likely landed here following your results of my quiz at YourHormoneQuiz.com. No matter what you discover in these results, you're beautiful and perfect as you are. You're good enough and trying hard enough. We're all unique and will experience hormonal shifts differently. This information is here to highlight that, despite what we've been told, we're not just little men — our bodies work differently — and if our hormones have us feeling less than our best, we absolutely can do something about it. My aim is to support and empower you on your journey, where you need and want it. Take what you need, leave what you don't. No judgement here, just good honest support.
Blood Sugar Imbalance | Insulin Resistance
Blood sugar imbalance is common and could have you feeling hangry or peckish throughout the day, needing snacks to keep you going. It’s characterized by energy ups and downs, afternoon dips, an insatiable appetite, carb or sweet cravings, dependance on caffeine or carbs for energy, gut, yeast or fungal infections, headaches, interrupted sleep, and more.
As with all hormone imbalances, blood sugar imbalance will present itself differently in different women. Women in their menopausal or perimenopausal years will often notice a shift in blood sugar regulation related to lower estrogen levels.
Blood sugar dysregulation is often at the root of other health and hormone frustrations. And even more often, unstable blood sugar and chronic stress go hand in hand. As stress comes in so many packages, it’s not always apparent what stressors could be impacting one’s blood sugar regulation (some might even be “invisible” stressors), or if it’s blood sugar dysregulation that’s a primary cause of stress.
Longterm fluctuations — if ignored — can lead to insulin resistance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Different ways blood sugar gets unbalanced:
Most often, blood sugar dysregulation is multifactorial. Women arrive at it for multiple reasons, not just one. Some of these reasons could be:
- Timing of meals, snacking or eating throughout the day and in between meals
- Inadequate quality sleep or lack of rest or dowtime
- Circadian rhythm disruption (sleep that’s out of balance with the natural daylight cycle)
- Chronic stress stress of any kind (could be things like high expectations, stressful or unsupportive thoughts, toxic relationships or environments)
- Lack of movement or exercise
- Chronic, excessive or strenuous exercise for your body type or current hormone status
- Steroid medications or other pharmaceuticals
- Diet high in calories, carbohydrates or refined carbohydrates or unhealthy fats or refined oils
- Unaddressed food intolerances or allergies
- Gut or digestive issues
- Viral infections, chronic inflammation, pain or illness
- Higher percentage of adipose tissue (fat tissue)
- Being overburdened with everyday environmental toxins either due to our over-exposure or our bodies ability to efficiently eliminate these toxins, or both
- Low estrogen or progesterone, estrogen and progesterone help manage our metabolism and regulate our blood sugar levels
- Perimenopause or menopause — as our estrogen levels begin to naturally decline, women tend to notice changes in blood sugar regulation. This can be better managed with supportive tweaks in diet, movement and lifestyle.
Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance might look like:
- Fatigue or energy highs and lows
- Unable to easily go more than 3 hours without eating or drinking (a caloric beverage)
- Craving sweets after dinner
- Feeling hangry
- Frequent carb cravings
- Dependence on caffeine or carbs for energy
- Waking up hungry during the night
- Gaining weight around your midsection
- Difficulty with weight loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Losing muscle mass and/or gaining fat
- Frequent gut, yeast or fungal infections
- Hives, allergic reactions, asthma or seasonal allergies
- Reduced or low libido
- Infertility or miscarriages
- Dry dark patches of skin in your underarms, groin or neck
- Frequent urination
Blood sugar dysregulation will present itself differently in different women. You might find you have a few or many of the above symptoms while someone else could have completely different ones. We’re all wonderfully unique like that.
What’s happening physiologically when blood sugar gets unbalanced?
Our body aims for homeostasis and is often continuously working to keep our blood sugar level balanced, especially in those with blood sugar issues. When we eat, exercise, or experience stress, our blood sugar will rise initiating the release of insulin from our pancreas.
Insulin’s job is to get the blood sugar (called glucose) into our cells. It’s like a key, opening up the cells to let glucose in. When our cells don’t need the glucose for energy at that moment (perhaps there’s too much or not enough activity), insulin helps store it as fat. So the higher or faster glucose rises in our body, the more insulin is released. And in certain situations, insulin could spike even if blood sugar stays stable, such as when drinking alcoholic beverages.
Sometimes, a rush of insulin release can lead to the body tucking away too much blood sugar, resulting in a blood sugar dip. This is often visible after eating a sugar snack, such as candy. The high is followed by a low. Overtime, these highs and lows can lead to cells becoming resistant. In this case, our baseline blood sugar levels begin to rise, creating a situation of insulin resistance.
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How blood sugar imbalances affect other hormones
In addition to insulin, we depend on the hormone glucagon for blood sugar regulation. It assists in raising blood sugar levels when they drop too low, helping to find homeostasis. But when rapid or big shifts in blood sugar take place, instead of glucagon, our body will often call on cortisol — a stress hormone — to bring blood sugar back up. This is useful in a stressful situation but not ideal on a regular basis.
This kind of dependency on cortisol can lead to stress and other hormone issues, which is why blood sugar regulation is often at the root of many hormone frustrations.
The body prefers blood sugar levels to be stable, so then it doesn’t have to work as hard calling on hormones to bring it up or down to balance it out. Other hormone imbalances or genetics can make blood sugar balance more of a challenge. In all cases, there is something we can do about it to help better support our body’s balance.
Blood sugar irregularities and insulin resistance can impact our sex hormones, our stress hormones, our body’s metabolism and ability to burn fat, as well as key neurotransmitters that help stabilize our mood, mind and concentration.
What we can do about blood sugar imbalance or insulin resistance:
When dealing with hormone imbalance, it’s important to address what’s causing it. Asking yourself: What could be at the root of blood sugar imbalance? Dealing with the root cause is essential.
Restoring balance most often requires — first and foremost — reestablishing a strong foundation with a supportive diet and lifestyle. This includes optimizing nutrition and sleep, finding exercise and stress management techniques, reducing toxic exposures, and working on mindset and social support.
Not sure where to start?
Here are 3 easy and free ways you can get started right now:
- Reduce or eliminate refined oils and carbohydrates. Avoid high-heat cooking or frying foods in saturated oils.
- Upgrade your sleep quality and quantity to match your stress levels and lifestyle, as well as syncing up your sleep and light exposure (especially blue light) with the daylight hours.
- Book a call with me. See below.
Check out this post for even more ways to get your hormones back in harmony.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It's important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information — we're all wonderfully unique.
Laurie Villarreal, CHWC, CFNS, LMC, CPT, RYT
As a functional nutrition practitioner and fitness expert specialized in women’s hormones, I help active, driven women, like you, get back to feeling, performing (heck, even looking!) your best when nothing else has worked. From personalized nutrition and lifestyle guidance to doing the deep, much needed inner work of coaching, I help you soar to new heights — to show up and play bigger (and brighter!) than you’ve ever imagined. So you can get back to living your best life and chasing your dreams — with much more joy and ease.
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