Metabolic Health

8 Ways Balancing Your Blood Sugar Can Improve Your Health

7 minutes read

If you’re like the 93% of Americans who are metabolically unhealthy, stabilizing your blood glucose can be a powerful tool for taking control of your health [1].

While blood sugar stabilization is not a cure-all, your blood glucose is connected to every one of your organ systems and, therefore, touches all parts of your health in some way.

From your mental health to your weight, your sex life to your sleep — there’s a link to blood glucose, which is why stabilizing your levels is such a powerful tool. 

So, how exactly does balancing your blood sugar improve your health? 

4 long-term benefits of stabilizing your blood glucose

1. Reverse insulin resistance 

We’ve talked a lot about dysregulated glucose contributing to the development of insulin resistance, which is closely associated with obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and the development of chronic conditions like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cardiovascular disease [2].

High glucose variability makes your body work harder (produce more insulin) to keep glucose in range, which exacerbates insulin resistance and harms your health. It’s a vicious cycle of more glucose and more insulin. 

Reversing insulin resistance is crucial to reversing or avoiding conditions like T2D, obesity, prediabetes, and glucose intolerance. It may also help to mitigate conditions like PCOS, chronic fatigue, and inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis [3-5].

While insulin resistance is complex and affects many bodily systems, recent research suggests that the three most powerful mechanisms for reversing it are exercise, diet, and lowering glucose levels [6].

At the heart of reversing your insulin resistance is stabilizing your blood glucose and using Veri’s Four Pillars of health – nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management — to keep your blood glucose in range.

2. Increase healthspan

Healthspan is the period of your life spent in good health. Metabolic-related conditions, like obesity, insulin resistance, and poor glycemic control, are all predictors of major age-related diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Recent research has also linked insulin resistance to brain health, which is crucial to longevity and the prevention of cognitive decline [7].

Studies in diabetic patients have shown changes in brain structure and function linked to the development of diabetes, as well as changes in neurons associated with energy balance [8]. This suggests that insulin resistance and its progression to diabetes alters brain signaling and leads to a decline in overall cognitive health, which is closely tied to healthspan. 

Insulin resistance and waist circumference have also been shown to be associated with the shortening of leukocyte telomeres (blood cell chromosomes), which is indicative of aging [9].

This suggests that insulin resistance and increased waist circumference contribute to decreased longevity and healthspan. 

Because dysregulated glucose contributes to the development of insulin resistance, keeping blood glucose in a healthy range can help you stay healthier longer.

3. Improve hormone health

If your blood glucose is out of whack, it can have drastic effects on your endocrine system, which produces hormones.

Think of hormones as chemical messengers in the body that tell certain cells what to do. When hormones become disrupted, systems in the body begin to break down.

Everything from stress hormones, insulin resistance, sex hormones, hormones that regulate appetite, and hormones linked to organ function can be affected by blood glucose levels.

Research has linked insulin resistance to a decrease in estrogen production in women, which may heighten the risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer and ovarian cancer [10]. 

High blood glucose is also associated with increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that, when elevated over time, can contribute to inflammation, weight gain, and related metabolic illnesses [11]. 

By keeping your blood glucose stable, you can support the health of your hormones and, as a result, your major bodily systems. 

4. Manage weight

High glucose variability (frequent peaks and valleys) and elevated fasting glucose is associated with insulin resistance, which can lead to unwanted weight gain and make losing weight more difficult

Recent research has shown that insulin signaling and the function of transporter proteins that are driven by insulin are reduced in those with more fat tissue, even if they have normal blood glucose levels [12]. 

Similarly, those who were once obese/overweight and lost weight showed increased levels of insulin sensitivity, indicating that weight loss helped them to reduce insulin resistance [13].

Stabilizing and maintaining blood glucose levels requires making healthier choices regarding your diet, exercise regimen, sleep schedule, and stress management techniques

When you focus on keeping blood glucose levels in check, your biological data from your blood glucose levels steers you to healthier food choices. 

Healthier food choices and well-timed exercise can then help you reverse insulin resistance and lose weight sustainably, without the over-restriction and bingeing cycle that often leads people to regain the weight, despite their hard efforts.

4 short-term benefits of stabilizing your blood glucose

Stable glucose is key to achieving long-term health and avoiding the onset of chronic health conditions. But what about the short term? What can you expect in the first few weeks and months of better managing your blood glucose levels? 

1. Stable energy, increased focus

Elevated blood glucose — high fasting glucose, or due to a meal high in refined carbohydrates — can lead to feeling sluggish, fatigued, or give you brain fog [14, 15]. When your blood glucose is well managed and insulin sensitivity increases, you reap the benefits of sustained energy and kick the afternoon slump

2. Improved moods

Research has linked high glycemic variability, specifically instances of glucose spikes and valleys, with feelings of irritability, anxiousness, and stress [14]. Several studies in diabetic patients have associated low blood glucose levels with feelings of nervousness and high blood glucose with frustration and agitation [16, 17]. 

Keeping glucose in range and avoiding extreme fluctuations can help manage mood swings and keep you more alert and upbeat rather than fighting negative feelings and crankiness. 

3. Fewer cravings

When you eat foods high in refined carbohydrates, your blood glucose surges, which leads to the overproduction of insulin to keep up with the spike. Once the insulin overproduction catches up, your glucose crashes, leading you to crave something sweet to bring your BG up to normal levels, and the cycle continues.

Even mild low blood glucose (between 60-80 mg/dL) increased drive for hyper-palatable, high-calorie foods [18]. By getting your blood glucose in check, you can get off the glucose rollercoaster and bust the cravings.

4. Better skin

A spike in blood glucose causes a rise in insulin levels, which can increase the production of sex hormones called androgens, which are tied to skin health. When insulin levels are high, androgens lead to increased production of sebum and keratinocytes, which can leave skin feeling thick and oily and lead to unwanted breakouts. Studies have shown that having a low glycemic diet can lead to a reduction in acne problems [19, 20].

Key Takeaways

Your blood glucose levels are linked to your health as a whole. Stabilizing your levels can have a positive impact on everything from your mood and sleep quality to your sex life, focus, and more. On the other hand, letting your levels run wild for a prolonged period of time can lead to metabolic health issues such as insulin resistance, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.

What can you do to stabilize your levels?

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35798448/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2675814/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9029454/ 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9408743/ 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1483173/
  6. https://diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/insulin-resistance
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319489/
  8. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1113/expphysiol.2005.031385
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9110194/
  10. https://por.hu/2012/18/2/0123/0123a.pdf
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453020301177  
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12080441/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5519190/  
  14. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0073697 
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27507131/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2707223/
  17. https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/27/10/2335/23192/Acute-Hyperglycemia-Alters-Mood-State-and-Impairs
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21926468/
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22678562/ 
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17448569/

Written by: Emily Johnson, MSc RD
Reviewed by: Dr. Vimal Ramjee, MD, FACC

Table of Contents

  • 4 long-term benefits of stabilizing your blood glucose
  • 4 short-term benefits of stabilizing your blood glucose
  • Key Takeaways

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