Root Cause: Blood Sugar Imbalance (+5 ways to control it)

87% of Americans are metabolically dysfunctional. Whoa. This means that in the US, only 1  out of 10 people has normal blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference. That’s insane!

And what’s the #1 root cause for metabolic dysfunction? You guessed it…blood sugar imbalance.

Even if you think you’re fine because you have a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), let me tell you from direct experience that even thin people can have blood sugar issues.

Personally, I was in the normal BMI range all my life, yet I still experienced the detrimental side effects of blood sugar imbalance, including anxiety, fatigue, stubborn belly fat, frequent urination, difficulty concentrating, and out-of-control cravings. I thought that because I ate organic food and exercised, I had a free pass to consume sweets, coffee, alcohol, and processed foods “in moderation.” This kind of thinking is so common but so backwards. 

Sadly, our society falls victim to the strategic marketing of harmful foods and substances. We become addicted because these things create pleasurable chemical responses in our brains and bodies. Processed food in particular is designed to be irresistible, and it is often full of harmful sugar, fat, salt, and chemical additives. No wonder so many of us are metabolically impaired.

Want to know something unfair? Blood sugar balance is even harder for women to achieve than men. Around age 35-40, women experience major drops in insulin-protective hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. As these hormones are produced in smaller and smaller amounts, we become more insulin-resistant and our metabolism slows down.

The good news is that blood sugar is one of the easiest root causes to get under control in a short amount of time. It’s the first root cause I addressed when overcoming my own chronic conditions, and it’s often where I have my clients start. In order to balance your blood sugar, you will need to change some of your dietary habits, and as well as reprogram certain beliefs around food and lifestyle. 

Let me get you started with some tips to get your blood sugar under control. 


Tip #1: Cut refined sugars and processed foods out of your diet.

Sugar, also known as “white death,” can be as hard to give up as an addictive drug. Personally, when starting my own health journey, I replaced my sugar addiction with a sunflower butter addiction. Any form of addiction isn’t healthy, but I think it’s better to have a sunflower butter addiction (or maybe a yoga addiction) than a sugar one. Work on cutting out sugar first, then address addiction later.

Sugar addition is very real, stimulating the same pleasure centers as cocaine and heroin. Stress, as well as psychological and emotional triggers, make it especially hard to resist sugar. 

Trust me, you want to resist sugar as best you can. Sugar is a MAJOR contributor to inflammation and hormone imbalance in the body. Chronic inflammation is at the root of all chronic illness. Chronic inflammation shuts down hormone receptors, making them unresponsive to hormones like insulin, which you need to escort the sugar into the cell for energy.

I recommend looking at this list of 56 different names for sugar. There are sooo many places sugar hides, especially in processed foods. You’re better off eating whole foods, especially a large variety of vegetables.

If you feel like your sugar cravings are uncontrollable, then you very likely have candida overgrowth. Here is an excellent, excellent article that explains candida overgrowth, a free DIY test to see if you have candida, and what you can do about it.

Finally, do NOT use artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. These are chemicals that increase inflammation, cause gut dysbiosis (more bad gut bacteria than good), and even lead to neurological damage. 


Tip #2: Focus on including enough protein, fat and fiber in your diet.

Protein, fat and fiber are the three keys to stabilizing blood sugar. 

Protein blunts your sugar absorption, since it breaks down into glucose much more slowly than carbohydrates. Protein-rich foods include meat, nuts, seeds, kale, and broccoli. If possible, make sure your food is organic and high quality!

Fat also slows down sugar absorption; you just have to pick the right fats. High quality fats are sources of  “good” HDL cholesterol and are the precursor to all sex hormones, including progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. High quality fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and animal fats like grass-fed butter, lard or beef tallow. If you use oils, try to stick to olive or avocado oil. 

Personally, I try to minimize all dairy and oil intake and have learned to cook with broth instead of butter and oil. There are some studies showing that oil inhibits nutrient absorption and can contribute to weight gain. I suggest experimenting to see what you can handle. 

Fiber also slows down sugar metabolism. Great sources are whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. If you’re really trying to get your blood sugar under control, then stick to mostly non-starchy vegetables. Cruciferous and green veggies are a good way to go. 


Tip #3: Take a walk or get light physical activity after meals. 

This is one of the simplest things you can do to balance blood sugar, even when you’re totally insulin resistant!  An after-meal stroll will pull blood sugar out of the plasma and into the cell.

There is staggering data showing the effectiveness of walking is after meals. You don’t have to sprint or do crazy cardio for hours to reap the benefits. 10-15 minutes has a profound effect. Plus, the fresh air and sunshine will boost your mental health and reinvigorate you for the next task ahead. 

I suggest making these walks a habit. Walk with your dog, spouse, kids, or friends to make it more enjoyable. I like to listen to podcasts while walking.

If walking after every meal seems like a big undertaking, then I suggest doing it after dinner as opposed to the other meals. Not only is dinner typically our biggest meal, but it is also consumed at the time of day we are most insulin resistant. In the morning, we are more insulin sensitive and can better handle sugar and carbohydrates. I usually suggest consuming fruit in the morning as opposed to the evening for this very reason. 


Tip #4: Utilize strategic nutritional supplementation.

While I am a big believer in supplements, I do not think supplements are a good enough solution on their own.  For the best results, you need to make diet and lifestyle changes as well.

That being said, there are certain mineral supplements that make your cells more receptive to insulin. These include chromium, vanadium, and magnesium (malate or glycinate). Berberine is also hugely impactful; studies show that berberine is just as effective as Metformin, but with the added benefit of no side effects.

When you are buying these supplements, DO NOT PURCHASE FROM BIG BOX STORES!!! This includes places like Target, Amazon, Costco, and even Whole Foods. These supplements often lack the nutritional value that they claim and have no 3rd party testing to back it up. A lot of supplements will show claims that their product is backed by science, but it’s science that they performed and funded themselves. This is biased science. 

If you want to find a high quality supplement, I recommend talking to someone like a naturopath, chiropractor, or a health coach to get you access to quality supplementation. Feel free to reach out to me for more information. I am well-versed in supplementation and am happy to give you options/point you in the right direction. 


Tip #5: Limit your alcohol intake.

Sad but true: Alcohol is sugar too. 

Going for a long period of time without alcohol is incredibly cleansing for the body. However, I realize that it’s not realistic for most people to avoid alcohol entirely. 

If you must drink, I advocate for organic or biodynamic red wines and limiting drinking to social occasions (no more than 2x/week). If you want a hard drink, then avoid mixers like Coke or Sprite, which contain high fructose corn syrup. 

Many make the mistake of drinking late at night, which a) disturbs your sleep and b) puts an added workload on the liver. Alcohol is best consumed about 4-5 hours before bedtime, and it’s even better if you’re enjoying it socially with good friends and family. 

There are places in the world called “Blue Zones”, which have the highest numbers of centenarians. Interestingly, in 4 out of 5 Blue Zones, alcohol is an integral part of their culture. The thing is, they only drink about one glass in the afternoon with family, friends, and food. There are many factors at play here to help prevent blood sugar spikes. So how about that? You can live to be 100 and still enjoy alcohol. Just enjoy under the right conditions!


What Next?

If this all feels overwhelming, I recommend starting small. Maybe this means just implementing a walk after dinner, and then moving onto the next thing. Small steps will be more effective than making massive diet changes cold turkey.

Here is a recipe for Lemon Tahini Kale Salad that is great for balancing blood sugar and incorporating more protein, fat, and fiber in you life.

If you need more help getting started, feel free to reach out! I provide free 15-minute conversations offering space to organize and share your thoughts, and I am able to respond with targeted recommendations. 

Believe me, this world will be a much better place when your blood sugar is balanced 🙂

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