The Blood Sugar Balancing Act

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Before we hit a state of blood sugar pathology (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood for examples), we most likely spend some time, perhaps decades, in a state of functional blood sugar imbalance.

These functional imbalances probably begin due to diet and lifestyle, and the good news is that they can usually be corrected with diet, lifestyle, and natural supplementation, under the care of a trained functional medicine practitioner.

They are:

  1. Functional reactive hypoglycemia

  2. Insulin resistance.

Here’s how Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a leader in the functional medicine community, defined the two states of functional blood sugar imbalance.

“There is an overlap between the two conditions, but functional reactive hypoglycemia is generally a lower than ideal blood glucose physiological state with spikes of deficient glucose, whereas insulin resistance is generally a higher than ideal glucose physiological state with spikes of excessive glucose.”

When I first began to study functional medicine some years ago, I didn’t understand how not managing my own blood sugar was such a stress to my body.

Sure, eating a giant cookie or skipping a meal didn’t make me feel good, but why was it such a big deal?

I now understand how my amazing body works to keep an even stream of glucose to my cells, so they can covert it to energy. When I sabotage that balance with my poor choices, I risk short- term fatigue, anxiety and acne, and long-term diseases such as dementia and cancer.

How can you know if you are upsetting your own blood sugar? Here are some key points:

Your habits include:

A.
Skipping breakfast or other meals
Having coffee for breakfast
Eating breakfast a few hours after waking
Surviving on sugary snacks
‘Grazing’ (eating a bit throughout the day)
Using caffeine or cigarettes to suppress appetite
Engaging in lots of exercise without replenishing calories

Or

B.
Overeating
Surviving on carbs, sweets and processed foods Never exercising
Ignoring your expanding waistline

You may be experiencing these symptoms:

A.
Craving sweets
Irritable if you can’t eat often Light-headed
Anxious, nervous
Forgetful, absent-minded

Or

B.
Fatigued after meals
Eating sweets does not relieve craving for sweets Difficulty losing weight
Tired all the time

The ‘A’ lists correspond more to functional reactive hypoglycemia, and the ‘B’ lists correspond to insulin resistance. But as Dr. Kharrazian stated, there can be some overlap.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have not yet entered an irreversible pathologic state, there is still much hope for treating functional blood sugar disorders. You can resolve everyday symptoms like fatigue and sugar cravings, plus help balance your hormones in conditions of PCOS, infertility and more.

Blood sugar balance is one of the most important balancing acts in your body, and a trained functional medicine practitioner can spot these patterns both in your history and your lab results.

Please contact me at bridgitdanner.com if you are interested in receiving this kind of health

screening, and please stay tuned to Nicole’s radio show, the Period Party, where I’ll soon be a guest to talk about lab testing for women’s health.

All the best in your health journey, Bridgit Danner, LAc 

Do You Have a Cranky Bladder?

The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ with an inner layer called a urinary epithelium.  Two ureters carry urine from the kidney to the bladder.  At the lowest point is a urethra, a narrow tube from which urine empties when it’s sphincter muscle releases.

Stones, or calculi, can develop in the bladder when minerals that should be in solution in the urine congeal.  The condition is more common in men, and is more commonly found in low-protein diets.

Infection of the bladder (cystitis) is more common in women, with the suspected reason of our shorter urethra providing less of a barrier against bacteria.  

An irritable bladder, in which there is a frequent urge to urinate, can be due to a urinary tract infection, a prolapsed uterus, or a disease effecting the nerves such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.  The presence of kidney stones or endometriosis can also irritate the bladder.

It is also associated with anxiety and stress, excess caffeine intake, and a deficiency of magnesium.  

bladderpain.jpg

About a million women in the U.S. have interstitial cystitis (IC), also called painful bladder syndrome.   The presentation of symptoms varies, but may include frequent urination, pelvic pain, and pain when the bladder expands.  It may be worse during menstruation and sex.  It is important to treat, as being left untreated can cause scarring of the bladder which will further effect quality of life.

It’s diagnosis is mainly made by ruling out other conditions.  

According to Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN, NP at Women to Women, IC can be defined this way:

“Interstitial cystitis is most often recognized as a chronic neuroinflammatory disorder affecting the bladder — a complex interrelationship between bladder nerves, the immune system, and the urinary tract.”

What can cause chronic inflammation?

Diet is one big cause, if you are choosing breads, pastas, sugars and convenience foods over fresh vegetables and organic proteins.  Dr. Pick points out the acidic juices, sodas and tomatoes can irritate IC.  Coffee and tea, even decaffeinated tea, can cause inflammation in the bladder. 

A lack of sleep can trigger chronic inflammation, as well as a chronic infection in the mouth or gut, or chronic pain in the body.

Low levels of estrogen can increase inflammatory mast cells, and low levels of progesterone can cause increased histamine levels.  These conditions are becoming common in our modern, stressful lifestyles, and will be exacerbated with chemical birth control use or perimenopause.  

When there is inflammation in one area of the body, we will tend to see inflammation in the brain as well.  Brain fog, anyone?  

How about the immune component?  

Certainly a chronic state of inflammation will cause some imbalance in the immune system.   Chronic inflammation in the gut, for example, can lead to a condition of ‘leaky gut.’  Protein peptides that were incompletely digested in the gut now leak into the blood stream.  The body’s immune system will respond by marking and attacking these foreign peptides.  

Unfortunately this new ‘up-regulated’ immune response may cause confusion in the body and our own body’s tissues now get marked and attacked.  

Antibodies to the M3 receptors in the bladder muscle is found in many cases of IC, but it thought be be secondary to the disease.  Many people with IC also have another autoimmune disease, with Sjögren's syndrome showing the strongest connection.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17823601)

According to Harvard Health Publications, “during cystoscopy, the clinician may take a biopsy (tissue sample) of the bladder to rule out bladder cancer and look for evidence of the mast cells that indicate an allergic reaction or autoimmune response.”

“No one knows the exact cause of interstitial cystitis. One theory is that it’s caused by infection with an undiscovered agent, such as a virus. Another is that it’s an autoimmune disorder set in motion by a bladder infection; cells that normally fight infection attack the bladder lining instead, causing pain, redness, and swelling (inflammation). Yet another theory is that mast cells normally involved in allergic responses release histamine into the bladder.

Some research has focused on defects in the layer of protective mucus that lines the bladder, which causes so-called leaky bladder syndrome. A leaky bladder allows harmful substances in the urine to leak through the mucous layer and inflame or ulcerate tissue below.

Another idea is that sensory nerves within the bladder ‘turn on’ and spur the release of inflammatory substances. Because interstitial cystitis is mainly a woman’s disease, researchers think that hormones possibly contribute.”

The good news is this condition can respond well to conventional treatment with your MD and/or natural therapies of gut healing and lowering inflammation.  Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in developing a personalized plan to optimize your health.  ~Bridgit 



PCOS, Ammenorhea and More on the Podcast this month

There have been some HOT topics on the podcast this month!  I love the powerful, brillant ladies I've been honored to meet.  I'll recap below:

Amy Medling, Nicole Jardim and Moon Cho

Amy Medling, Nicole Jardim and Moon Cho

1.  First we had Nicole Jardim, women's health coach, talking about the reasons and solutions behind ammenorhea (no period for 3 months or more.)  

Ammenorhea can be caused by post-birth control use, overtraining, under-eating, extreme diets and stress.  There is a good chance you'll experience a bout of ammenorhea in your lifetime.  

Come learn from Nicole how to preserve your cycle, and why cycling matters to your long-term health, on this podcast.

2.  Last week I interviewed Moon Cho from Ying Yang Living.  I think she is my new Korean American soul sister.  I love her strong convictions and New York accent!  She talked about healthy diet and lifestyle following Asian tradition...and we definitely went off on some tangents!  Listen here.

3.  Lastly, I will interview Amy Medling of PCOS Diva.  PCOS is the most common female hormone disorder.  It leads to embarrassing signs like acne, facial hair and balding.  Plus it's linked to more serious and heart-wrenching disorders such as infertility and type 2 diabetes.  

Amy not only took control of her PCOS naturally, but she got pregnant naturally as a result. Listen to her sound advice here.


If you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast, it's easy!  

Just look for the pre-installed podcast app on your iphone, search "Women's Wellness Radio" and subscribe to the show with my smiling face.  If you are on an android phone, just choose a podcast app on the app store ( I like Beyond Pod) and search for "Women's Wellness Radio."

High Blood Pressure- Natural Treatment

Got high blood pressure? Monitor your blood pressure with your primary care physician, and know there are also solutions with a functional medicine practitioner like myself to get this condition under control.

Here are some things to consider:

high blood pressure

Check your blood sugar (fasting glucose and HA1C) as insulin resistance increases blood pressure.

Check your stress.  What stressors can you walk away from or manage better?  

Schedule in relaxation.  Read, meditate, sauna, yoga, nap, get together with friends, etc.

Exercise; remember frequency is more important than intensity.

Lose weight as needed.  Even a little weight loss can help.  Excess weight puts a strain on your system.

Do the healthy lifestyle basics:  Sleep, don’t smoke, limit alcohol and caffeine use.

Diet:

Limit sodium to 2400 mg day and always use natural sea salt.  Eating out and eating ‘convenience foods’ like canned soup, chips and frozen meals will have more and low-quality sodium.

 

Increase the following minerals to balance out the sodium:  

Magnesium- almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate

Calcium- bone broth, white beans, sardines, blackstrap molasses, bok choy, dried figs

Potassium- coconut water, dark leafy greens, baked potato and squash, avocado, salmon, mushroom, banana

 

Many wholesome foods contain all three of the above minerals.

Most of us are eating way too few vegetables a day.  Get veggies with every meal.  Have a salad daily.

Plus have:

Fish oil- from wild salmon, sardine, anchovy, or high quality supplement

Vitamin C- from peppers, lemon, broccoli, rose hips, citrus, camu camu, or a high quality supplement with bioflavonoids

Advanced moves:

Cook with turmeric, garlic and cayenne.

Make barley water.  It reduces swelling and blood pressure.

 

You can schedule individual treatment to create a customized healing plan that works best for you at our schedule link.  Thanks!  Bridgit Danner, Lac