Saturday, May 7, 2016

How Eating Sugar Effects the Thyroid

Susan keeps busy all the time. She is a mother of two, career woman and loves to volunteer at church on Sundays. However, each day is a struggle. She has a hard time waking up in the morning even when she gets 8 hours of good sleep. Her energy crashes at about 2-3pm when she reaches for a sugary snack as a pick-me-up or that cup of coffee with 3 packets of sugar. She knows if she does the coffee then chances are she will wake up at 3 am with worry and anxiety over something small but sometimes it's the only thing that works to get her through the day.

If this sounds like you know that you are not alone for there are many who are addicted to sugar, caffeine and/or carbohydrates riding high and low on blood sugar swings. Whether someone eats something sugary or carb-loaded, which will turn into sugar once digested, that sugar goes into the blood stream forcing the body to produce insulin, a specific hormone to manage it. The body produces a lot of insulin to take care of the high amount of sugar to get it out of the blood stream and into the cells for energy. It then produces it in excess and the blood sugar drops too low, sending signals to the brain to eat again. So it truly is a swing of sugar-spike and then sugar-crash and when that crash comes we then reach for the next sugary thing to make us temporary feel better and start the cycle again.

Dysglycemia, the condition of the body not being able to keep the blood sugar stable, effects the adrenal glands and their production of cortisol and if the cortisol levels are swinging for a long period of time then it will end in hypothyroidism or a low functioning thyroid. Dysglycemia weakens and inflames the digestive system and weakens the lungs and brain. It drives the adrenal glands to exhaustion, causing adrenal fatigue syndrome. It also sets the stage for other hormonal imbalances including PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome or a miserable transition into menopause. If the dysglycemia doesn't get managed, attempts at helping the thyroid are futile.

When the blood sugar goes to low, either in response after eating something sugary, reactive hypoglycemia or if their blood sugar is just chronically low, hypoglycemia symptoms include

cravings for sweets
irritability if meals are missed
dependency on coffee for energy
becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
eating to relive fatigue
feeling shaky, jittery
feeling agitated
become upset easily
poor memory, forgetfulness
blurred vision

Now when the blood sugar is too high for extended periods of time you have insulin resistance that turns into diabetes. Symptoms include

fatigue after meals
general fatigue
constant hunger
craving for sweets that is not relieved by eating them
must have sweets after meals
frequent urination
difficulty losing weight
aches and pains that move
Whether hypoglycemic or insulin resistant, you must make changes to your diet. When insulin resistant you can no longer eat what you please when you please; with hypoglycemia,m you cannot continue missing meals or snacking on something sugary or starchy. The worst thing a person can do for their blood sugar is overeat carbs and if you feel sleepy or crave sugar after a meal, you just ate too many carbs. Sticking to a diet to change your blood sugar is not easy due to the addictive nature of sugar and simple carbs. Know that the first three days is the hardest and if you can make it through that you'll make following a new healthy way of easting easier and more rewarding.

Here are some tips:
1. Eat a high quality protein breakfast. Which I know is not easy if you have dysglycemia for you may either be nauseous or not hungry at all. That is a side effect of your adrenal glands and the cup of coffee you are about to have is not going to help things.

2. Eat a small amount of protein or fat every 2-3 hours. This will keep the blood sugar from dipping down and prevent exacerbating your thyroid. Nuts, seeds, a boiled egg, meat or a low-carb protein shake are some examples.

3. Find your carbohydrate tolerance and stick to it. You can use an app to count carbohydrates for the day (try to be under 100 grams/day) but if you carb overload in one meal that will through the blood sugar off. Again, I will reiterate, if you feel sleepy or crave sugar after you eat, you just ate too many carbs.

4. Never eat sugary foods without some fiber, protein or fat. IF and when you do eat something sugary or starchy eat it will some high quality fiber, protein or fat to slow down the rate at which the glucose is absorbed into the blood stream. This helps prevent 'insulin shock'.

5. Avoid all fruit and carrot juice. They are very sugary, even though it is fruit sugar and without the fiber, the sugar goes straight into the blood stream, causing insulin shock.

6. Avoid caffeine with the exception of green tea which can actually help people with insulin resistance.

For more info on the blood sugar, adrenal, thyroid triad read Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal by Datis Kharrazian

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