Did you know that gut health is linked to blood sugar?
That’s right, the two go hand-in-hand. When your gut is healthy and functioning properly, it can help keep your blood sugar balanced so that you don’t experience spikes or dips in energy levels throughout the day.
The gut is the “second brain” of the body and it has a massive impact on your overall health. But the gut isn’t just home to trillions of bacteria — it’s also where blood sugar starts its journey through your body. In this post, we’ll explore how blood sugar affects gut health, including what happens when blood sugar goes up or down (hint: either one can cause problems!). We’ll also talk about some simple changes you can make to improve your blood sugar balance and as a result help keep your gut in good shape
All About Blood Sugar Balance
Blood sugar is a form of energy that comes from the food you eat. It’s stored in your liver and muscles for later use. When you eat, your body breaks down the food into glucose, which raises your blood sugar levels. The pancreas releases insulin to help lower these levels again by taking excess glucose out of your blood and packing it away safely in fat cells for future use (this process is called “storage”).
When this system works properly, it keeps us healthy; however, when there’s too much or too little insulin present in our bodies–or when our bodies don’t respond properly to the hormone–it can lead to problems like insulin resistance or uncontrolled blood sugars.
The Link Between Gut Health and Blood Sugar
The relationship between gut health and diabetes specifically has been well documented over the past few years. One of the most common impacts we see on the gut with elevated blood sugars is slowed gut motility. But even if you do not have diabetes, it is still important to consider your blood sugar control as a key component to your gut health journey.
We often find that many of our clients come to us unknowingly with dysregulation in their blood sugar. It’s often missed on generalized lab work but they are experiencing highs and lows in their blood sugar throughout the day that are impacting their energy levels, productivity and gut symptoms.
Most commonly, we see clients who experience huge spikes in their blood sugars after a meal due to lack of protein, fat and fiber (all 3 which are a part of our PFFC framework we teach).
High blood sugar levels can affect gut motility in several ways:
- Delayed gastric emptying: When blood sugar levels are high, the stomach may empty more slowly, which can lead to delayed gastric emptying. This means food stays in the stomach longer than usual, which can cause bloating, discomfort, and nausea.
- Increased intestinal contractions: High blood sugar levels can stimulate the muscles in the small intestine to contract more frequently and more forcefully than normal. This can result in diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain.
- Impaired nerve function: High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the muscles in the digestive system. This can lead to a condition called diabetic neuropathy, which can cause symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
The Impact of Blood Sugar on the Gut
Blood sugar spikes are not good for your gut health. When you “naked carbs” or as we like to say in the gutTogether® Program, “carbs without friends” (protein, fat and fiber) it can cause your blood sugar levels to spike quickly. These spikes throughout the day can lead to inflammation in your body, fatigue, dysregulation in stress hormones and unwanted symptoms like brain fog and ravenous hunger.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Blood Sugar Balance?
- Eat PFFC: protein, fat, fiber and color. This is the framework we teach our clients for every meal. All carbs like friends to join the party!
- Eat foods that are high in fiber. Fiber helps to keep you full for longer, improves your bowels, can lower cholesterol and helps control your blood sugar.
- Eat your greens first: There is significant research showing the impact of eating your greens first in your meal.
- Walk after meals: Walking after a meal can reduce a glucose spike by up to 30% which is amazing! A quick walk around the block or your office could do you so well.
- Sleep: “resting and digesting” at night for 7-8 hours can greatly improve your blood sugar balance. Get the rest you need and have better stress hormone production and blood sugar control.
How do I know if blood sugar is impacting me?
In order to put your gut health in a better place, you need to take some time out and reflect on how you feel after eating certain foods. The more self-aware you are about your body and its reactions, the easier it will be for you to identify which foods make your body feel good or bad.
Most of the time we find that our clients can make small shifts in their meals simply by ADDING the missing components of the PFFC framework versus thinking about what they need to take out of their diet.
Remember – eliminating foods should be your last step and only done if there’s a serious allergy or sensitivity. The more abundant our diet, the more diverse the bacteria in our gut, allowing us to enjoy balanced meals symptom free, while also supporting gut health.
Improving your blood sugar balance can help improve your health.
Improving your blood sugar balance can help improve your health. Here are some of the benefits:
- Mood – Have you ever been hangry? We’ve all been there. Stabilizing blood sugar has a huge impact on stabilizing mood and energy. Eating more fiber also helps regulate serotonin levels which are important for feeling happy!
- Energy levels – When you are off of the blood sugar roller coaster you are able to experience more stable energy levels and prevent that “2pm crash” throughout the day.
What foods have fiber?
A lot of foods!
- Whole grains
If you’re looking for ways to improve gut health through diet changes–consider adding more high-fiber foods into your daily routine!
If you have been struggling with gut health issues, then your blood sugar balance could be a key player in your case. You can improve it by making small changes to not just what you eat, but also the way you eat, managing stress, getting sleep, prioritizing movement and eating meals every 3-4 hours to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
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