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What does Blood Sugar have to do with the Immune System??!

Last time we talked about how blood sugar regulation affects the endocrine system. The cool thing about the human body is that everything is connected! So when it comes to the immune system, blood sugar regulation is key to proper function. But probably not in the way that you think…

You see, inflammation is your body’s reaction to a stressor, and the more stressors you put on your body, the more it weakens your body’s natural defenses. You might think of this stress as filling an imaginary ‘bucket’ and once that bucket overflows, your body reacts…either by getting physically sick, showing up as digestive distress, or having skin conditions pop up (among numerous other reactions). In fact, chronic stress can lead to autoimmune diseases and other chronic health conditions. In order to protect your long-term health and avoid overflowing your ‘bucket’ you want to strengthen your defenses (your immune function) and remove the stressors (blood sugar imbalances, mental stress, environmental stress, potential food reactions, etc.). Dr. Terry Wahls discusses this at length in her book The Wahls Protocol ® (2020) and how finding this balance can improve symptoms associated with a number of autoimmune conditions.

Blood sugar imbalance was discussed in a previous post but as a refresher; every time your body sees those high peaks (spikes) in blood sugar, it sees it as a stressor and your hormones react accordingly. The graphic below demonstrates dysregulated blood sugar control.

Over time, this stresses your HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis and can cause dysregulation and inflammation. Your immune system is always working hard to address any causes of inflammation to achieve homeostasis (aka balance). And every time blood sugar spikes, so does your cortisol. Over time, this leads to chronically high cortisol which can lead to a number of health issues, inflammation, and imbalances. I really like the graphic below for showing the relationship of cortisol to other imbalances. You can see just how many systems a cortisol imbalance can affect with some direct and many indirect impacts on the immune system.

This is why finding a macro balance that feels good to your body is key to long term health. By balancing your intake of all of the macronutrients, you can keep your blood sugar more stable, so if you graphed your blood sugar levels, it would look more like rolling foothills and not the peaks and valleys of a mountain pass. Chronic blood sugar dysregulation is the start of a cascade of imbalances that are regulated by the HPA axis as shown in the graphic below.

So by avoiding blood sugar dysregulation, we can prevent some big imbalances in our downstream systems. This is key since when our downstream systems are out of balance, our immune system is compromised. This is because our body is working hard to bring these systems back into balance. This stress makes it harder for the body to activate our immune “soldiers” and fight off “invaders”.

Photo by Wesual Click on Unsplash

The biggest change you can make today is look at your carbohydrate intake relative to protein and fat. The majority of people heavily lean towards carbs. By making some minor tweaks to include more protein and fat on your plate and reduce your carb serving, I think you will quickly find yourself feeling more satiated (fuller longer) and reaching for snacks less often! Essentially, you always want to pair your carbs with a protein and/or fat.

Here are some balanced snack/meal ideas:
● Gluten free avocado toast and 2 eggs
● 1 piece of fruit + a handfull of your favorite raw or dry roasted nuts
● Hummus and plantain chips
● Cheese and apple slices
A meat stick and almond flour crackers
● Yogurt (unsweetened greek) + drizzle of raw honey, berries and a sprinkle of pecans

If you struggle with cravings and finding the right way to step into finding macro balance, let’s get in touch, I’d love to support you!

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