Have you been warned that your blood sugar levels are too high? Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes or have noticed weight gain, fatigue, sugar cravings or even increasing numbers of skin tags?
Around the time of menopause, maybe slightly before or after, women may be diagnosed or suspect that their blood sugar levels are high. So does this matter?
What can you do to stop that rising blood sugar in its tracks?
Let’s first consider what should happen when we eat foods containing sugar.
Sugar (or technically glucose) is needed by your cells for fuel. Once the glucose has been absorbed into your blood from your gut, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which acts a messenger to the cells telling them that glucose is on its way and to be ready to uptake it, if it's needed! Some glucose will be stored away in the liver or muscles for future use when supply is low, and any glucose in excess of this will then become stored in fat cells.
But sometimes this process goes wrong!
Sometimes the messenger isn’t released and sometimes the cells ignore the messenger. It’s a bit like the text message alerting you to a parcel delivery within the next hour or two - you might not receive the text message or you might receive the message but ignore it as you can no longer be bothered to react to all the alerts on your phone. You miss the door knocking, fail to open the door to the postie and so your parcel remains circulating the suburbs in the post van until it is stored at the post office.
If you’ve been told you’ve got high blood sugar levels, it's really an indication of metabolic dysfunction, that your body is no longer able to manage your intake of sugars as it should. Either insulin isn’t being released in response to the elevated blood sugars or, as often happens, insulin is being released but the cells are ignoring its message to open up, to allow the glucose in - they have become resistant to the insulin. The glucose remains circulating in the blood, ever increasing, and so the poor old pancreas is triggered to release more insulin, thinking that’s what is needed. And the cells continue to ignore - there’s too many alerts on their phone! As a result, your blood sugar tests high, more glucose is stored as fat (hello weight gain!) and other signs and symptoms begin.
For women, in perimenopause, high blood sugars can exacerbate hot flushes, brain fog, memory loss, weight gain, thickened uterine lining and increase the risk of fibroids, osteoporosis and heart disease.
So what can you do to stop your blood sugars from rising?
In most cases, the aim should be to improve your insulin sensitivity. Help your cells to respond to insulin’s message again. Improve your metabolic flexibility.
My 3 top recommendations to improve insulin sensitivity for perimenopausal women are:
Movement! Are you getting enough physical movement during your day? Are you including strength or resistance exercises? Not only does physical activity improve your glucose uptake but by building strength in your muscles your insulin sensitivity will improve, even when at rest. Keep in mind that as oestrogen declines, so do your muscles.
Sleep! Are you getting enough good quality sleep? Sleep helps to feel energised and reduce sugar cravings. If you are struggling, maybe consider a Magnesium supplement or an Epsom salt bath as part of your night routine may help.
Avoid processed foods, high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and limit alcohol intake. Reduce the amount of sugar that you consume in the first place. Eat well balanced meals to reduce the blood sugar spikes
Diet and lifestyle modifications are great ways to reduce your blood sugar level and to avoid the diagnosis of prediabetes. However, when you look deeper into it, there is so much contradicting information out there! You might be told to increase your protein, or count calories, choose keto or take up an impossible exercise plan. Have you tried to stop those sugar cravings and failed? Have you given up your favourite food and felt miserable? Have you felt overwhelmed or stressed by it all? Have you failed to change your habits?
So how do you make a change that is achievable, sustainable and sees those blood sugar levels come down whilst not feeling overwhelmed or miserable that you can’t enjoy ‘life’ anymore?
This is exactly what I can help you with!
By understanding and adopting a holistic approach that is uniquely tailored to you, your circumstance and your biology along with ongoing expert support and encouragement and accountability.
Join the waitlist now to be the first to hear about (and have access to all VIP bonuses) for the new ‘The IN SYNC Method’ coming early in 2023.