The link between stress and blood sugar we don’t talk about enough

Nowadays, stressful events such as family losses or problems at work are well known to be risk factors for triggering the onset of diabetes6. Additionally, studies have shown that traumatic experiences, family chaos, and behavioral problems during childhood are also linked to diabetes7.

So what explains this link? It turns out that the main stress hormone, cortisol, raises blood sugar levels8. Technically, this is an evolutionary adaptation. When we try to fight or flight, we need immediate blood sugar to fuel our muscles and cells to get out of a dangerous situation.

So it makes sense that when we encounter a threat, our body does what it’s designed to do, shutting down digestion and other less critical bodily processes, like repair and cleansing mechanisms, and channeling its resources back to the heart, the brain and the muscles. The only problem arises when the stress is chronic. Too much cortisol for too long can lead to chronically high blood sugar, which can contribute to diabetes and insulin resistance.

If you have a blood sugar problem, I’m sure your gut connection plays an important role in your imbalance, and healing will require an approach that addresses both the physical causes of blood sugar imbalances, such as gut microbiome imbalances and excessive sugar consumption – and emotional disturbances, such as chronic stress or the effects of trauma.

Excerpted with the kind permission of Gut Feelings: Healing the shameful relationship between what you eat and how you feel. Copyright © 2023 by Will Cole. Published by goop Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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