Stress Activates Our Fat Cells
That isnât the end of the story for cortisol. Cortisol also triggers an enzyme in our fat cells that helps relocate fat from storage deposits around the body to fat cell deposits deep in the abdomen, also known as visceral fat cells. Stress can actually cause many people to accumulate more belly fat. The more stress you have, the more cortisol is in your body and the more abdominal fat youâll find.In studies, these central fat cells have been linked to not only a greater risk for heart disease, but also a higher risk for diabetes. If you already have diabetes, your condition can grow worse because of an overall elevated level of stress and cortisol in your system.Not only that, but cortisol also increases food cravings, which are already hard to manage with diabetes.
Stress-induced cortisol increases food cravings, making it even harder to manage your dietBut it’s ok to snack! If you haven’t had a chance to see it, we’ve posted a blog on 5 “Swap” Food that Decrease Stress. Just remember, everything in moderation.
How To Manage Your Stress Levels
Some forms of stress cannot be managed, especially if they are not frequent in nature such as a one-time traumatic event or an accidental injury. Other types of stress, such as taking care of family, work stressors, or any other day-to-day stressful situations, will likely be there permanently or semipermanently. These types of stressful events are the ones that need to be managed as best you can.
To do this, you can proactively plan ahead. This means being prepared for the regular stressors of life and managing your time, reading self-help books, or minimizing the source of stress as much as possible. Calming exercises such as yoga and meditation have also been proven to reduce stress levels. You will also want to avoid indulging in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. It may seem comforting at the time, but it will not help to relieve the stress you are experiencing.
Setting realistic and manageable goals is also a big stress reducer for those with diabetes. Instead of focusing on a large and vague goal such as losing weight, setting a goal of walking for at least a half-hour every day on specific days of the week will be much more achievable.
If Youre Craving Sweets Heres What To Eat Instead
Just because youre ditching or limiting processed sugar doesnt mean you have to deny yourself the pleasure of sweet-tasting food.
In addition to being a doctor known as an expert on food and mood, Naidoo is also a chef and the author of the forthcoming book This Is Your Brain on Food.
Here are a few of her favorite low- or no-sugar recipes.
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The Mental Vicious Circle
Beyond the pure physical impact of stress, theres a confounding mental element: If you are stressed out, your mental bandwidth to deal with complex tasks is reduced. You are less organized, energetic and motivated. So naturally, this impacts diabetes control. When people get stressed out, theyre more likely to eat heavy comfort foods, skip difficult tasks or medications, and to basically ignore their diabetes. This is even more significant when it comes to stresss first cousin: Depression.
Depressions negative effect on diabetes control is well-documented, and deadly serious.
Theres a big difference between being stressed or burnt out, and being clinically depressed, according to Dr. Bill Polonsky, founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, in this article on mental health and diabetes.
Depression is a clinically diagnosed or diagnosable medical condition, whereas experiencing stress is not. He explains:
Still, everyday stress on its own can certainly derail your diabetes management, and research shows it can even weaken your immune system.
Can Stress Affect My Blood Sugar Levels
There are several ways that stress may affect your blood sugar levels. Stress induces the well-known fight-or-flight response, in which your body increases its levels of certain stress hormones. These, in turn, cause a rise in the amount of sugar in your blood, where it’s available to be used by your cells as fuel. If your body doesn’t have enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it has in order to get that blood sugar into your cells, your blood sugar levels remain high. Stress may also indirectly increase your blood sugar levels by causing you to abandon your good habits. When stressed, you may not eat well or exercise regularly, or you may drink more alcohol. These habits can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. In addition, you may not take time to check your blood glucose levels as often when you are stressed, so you may not be aware of the effects that the stress is having on your blood sugar levels. If you feel that stress is affecting your diabetes, talk to your doctor.
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Keep A Close Eye On Your Blood Sugar Levels
Its always important to keep tabs on your stress and blood sugar. Thats why we recommend a fasting blood sugar test at every yearly physical.If your blood sugar starts to creep upwards, we can be proactive and start measures to help you.
This is particularly important if you have diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, if you have these conditions, we may suggest that you have blood sugar screenings more often. We can guide you through when you should check your blood sugar, and our dietitian can help you select healthy meals.
How To Avoid Diabetes
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Can Stress Cause High Blood Glucose
It is commonly known that certain foods, illness and lack of exercise can increase blood glucose levels. However, another factor that can increase blood glucose levels is stress. Managing stress is quite complicated. To make it even harder, each type of stress can affect blood glucose levels differently. Its all highly individual. So, how can stress cause high blood glucose and what can you do about it?
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/9tips For Diabetes Patients To Stay Stress
Even as the world puts a united front to battle the highly infectious disease with all its resources, the novel coronavirus continues to pose unprecedented challenges. It has not only changed the way we used to live and breathe in the society, but it has also robbed us of our peace of mind, as we spritz, spray, disinfect and shudder at human interactions. This increased amount of daily stress is not only wrecking our mental health but it also makes you more susceptible to develop a more serious illness caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Emotional Stress May Cause A Rise In Glucose Levels
We are mostly aware of physical stress and how to manage it. Emotional stress is more complicated to detect and so more difficult to manage. Feelings like fear, anxiety, anger and excitement all cause the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream, to help prepare the body for the so-called fight-or-flight response. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands become enlarged and produce two hormones – adrenaline and noradrenaline. While the main role of noradrenaline is to prevent blood pressure from falling, adrenaline is an important blood glucose regulating substance1. Raising blood glucose is important in stressful situations, as the body prepares itself for a lot of physical and mental activity. The release of adrenaline helps achieve this and, combined with the increase in blood pressure, ensures the supply of oxygen and glucose to all parts of the body².
For people who do not have diabetes, the body releases insulin to reduce high blood glucose levels. However, for people with diabetes, stress may contribute to increase blood glucose levels for many days, weeks or months.
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Is Stress Messing With Your Blood Sugar
Stress may raise glucose levels in your blood, leading to hyperglycemia and even diabetes. Learn how to control your condition.
Researchers have linked dozens of physical symptoms to stress overload, from fatigue to weight gain. You can add another symptom to that list: high blood sugar.
When you’re stressed, your body is primed to take action. This “gearing up” is what causes your heart to beat faster, your breath to quicken, and your stomach to knot. It also triggers your blood glucose levels to skyrocket. “Under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising blood sugar levels to prepare you for action,” says Richard Surwit, PhD, author of The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution and chief of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, NC. If your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar builds up in your blood, with nowhere to go, leading to hyperglycemia.
We have no shortage of short-term stress in our livesfrom traffic jams to working long hours at a demanding joband our stress hormones, which were designed to deal with short-term dangers like fleeing predators, are turned on for long periods of time, even though we’re neither fighting nor fleeing. What we’re doing is stewing, which can cause chronically high blood sugar.
No matter how busy you are, you can find ways to restespecially if you have diabetes. Here’s how:
Is It Only ‘negative Stress’ That Affects Blood Sugar
Even positive life changes can cause blood sugar to swing, says Amy Campbell, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist, and a contributor to DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Planning a wedding, moving to a new city, getting a job promotion such happy stressors can also send your fight-or-flight hormones into overdrive.
A past review cited the definition of stress as the physiological or psychological response to an external stimulus, regardless of whether that stimulus is good or bad. That means that if you experience a significant change in your life whether it’s positive or negative its a good idea to keep an extra-close watch on your blood sugar.
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Ways To Reduce Mental Stress3
- Learn how to relax during stressful moments by using deep-breathing exercises.
- Evaluate your schedule to find how to make changes to relieve stress.
- Exercise regularly and take regular outdoor walks to experience nature, which generally has a soothing effect on the body and soul.
It is important to understand what stress is and how it effects your body. By identfiying and actively finding healthy ways to overcome your stress triggers, you can help to improve your diabetes management.
References1. Glucerna.How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels 2020. Abbott Laboratories. Available at: https://glucerna.com/why-glucerna/how-stress-affects-blood-sugar-levels..2. Diabetes UK. Stress And Blood Glucose-Levels.2019. Diabetes Digital Media. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/stress-and-blood-glucose-levels.html .3. Mind Organisation. Stress. 1st ed. London: Mind publications, p.1-15. 2017. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2959/stress-2017.pdf .
/9how To Battle Stress During The Corona Era
Since it has been established that co-morbidities and a compromised immune system can lead to an increased risk of mortality and severe illness after contracting COVID-19, the focus needs to be shifted to fixing the disrupted lifestyle routine and lower down the stress levels. We list down four ways you can dial down your daily stressors and focus on leading a healthy life, even during the pandemic:
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar
For someone with diabetes, the best way to prevent low blood sugar is to check your blood sugar often. You can check your blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor or glucometer. Discuss with your doctor how often you should be checking your blood sugar.
Your doctor might suggest checking before and after meals, before and after exercising, when changing your routine or schedule, when traveling across time zones, and more. By checking your blood sugar, you can identify when your sugar is falling and enact steps to normalize your levels.
For people both with and without diabetes, another tried-and-true way to prevent low blood sugar is to eat regular meals. Avoid skipping meals or fasting. When you do eat, research indicates that eating a diet low in refined carbohydrates, and inclusive of omega-3 fats and adequate protein, can help regulate blood sugar and lower anxiety levels.
S Toward Stress Reduction
One of the things you need to do in order to lessen the effect of stress on your blood glucose levels and improve your overall health is to take time in your daily life to rest whenever you can. The rest periods can be very short but they should be often because only through rest can you lessen your bodys cortisol level and improve your quality of life.
Rest is crucial for long-term spiritual and psychological well-being. If you dont take time out to reduce your stress levels, you can become ill. Scientists studying stress in the Netherlands reported that too much fatigue, also known as vital exhaustion causes demoralization, irritability, and fatigue. It may also increase your chances of getting a heart attack by 100 percent.
These are ways you can take time out of your life for rest and stress reduction:
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How To Combat Stress
So how can you reduce stress so that it has less of an effect on your blood sugar control?
Well, to some extent that depends on the nature of your stress. Anything in life that is stressing you out thats fixable, you should work to fix. That stupid toilet that runs all night and disturbs your sleep? Get it repaired. Thats easy. But sometimes its harder: The boyfriend or girlfriend who always puts you down? Time to break up. Not all that easy to do, although it will improve your health on multiple levels.
Meanwhile, things that stress you out that you cant fix, but that you can avoid, you should avoid. Your sister drives you nuts? Youre not required to visit her, you know.
Lastly, of course, there are things in life that you cant fix and you cant avoid, and these you need to develop ways to deal with. Sometimes this involves changing your mental attitude toward it. Other times its the use of stress-relief tools, like exercise to burn off that fight or flight sugar, or hot baths and aroma therapy candles to drown the stress so that your body stops releasing the sugar.
Some of the most tried-and-true stress relief tactics are:
- Exercise of any kind
Triggers Could Be Tricky
Life changing situations or a big situation are obvious triggers of stress. Stress can be more difficult to identify if the cause is a buildup of many smaller events. Having too much going on does not mean you are stressed. On the contrary, not having enough work, activities or change in your life are all factors that may cause stress. Constantly worrying or feeling that you do not have control over a situation can also cause stress3.
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Anxiety Over Low Blood Sugar
A low blood sugar episode, which can include anything from confusion and shakiness to nausea, loss of consciousness, and seizures, can be very scary. It therefore makes sense that some people with diabetes also experience anxiety related to possibly having a low blood sugar episodeand not just as a physiological reaction to low blood sugar levels.
This anxiety is so common that the term “fear of hypoglycemia” is commonly used among physicians and researchers. Research has found that a history of experiencing mild hypoglycemia increases FoH in people who have diabetes.
Good And Bad Exercises For Diabetes
One of the first things you might ask is if there are good and bad exercises for people with diabetes as in maybe I should just avoid the bad ones.
Christel Oerum, certified personal trainer and founder of Diabetes Strong and Diabetic Foodie, offered an alternative way to look at this question. Think about it like this: Your body just wants to help you out, it wants you to be successful. So, when you do certain types of workouts, predominantly anaerobic exercises, your body tries to ensure that you have the energy to be successful. It does this by releasing hormones that allow energy, in the form of glucose, to be released into your bloodstream. And that can raise blood sugars.
This response is not unique to people with diabetes. Vieira confirmed that In a nondiabetic body, the exact same process is happening, but their bodies produce extra insulin to deal with the extra glucose.
Just because blood sugar levels rise during certain types of exercise doesnt mean they are bad exercises or that the rise is happening for a bad reason, Vieira added. This is the bodys normal reaction to several factors that can occur mostly during anaerobic exercise like weight lifting, sprinting, spinning classes, competitive moments, etc.
Since its anaerobic exercise that causes BG spikes during activity, you might think that just avoiding sprints, resistance training, or other anaerobic activities could be the answer.
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