This article is the third in a series of posts exploring the Essential Six Elements of Whole Health, the core of our health philosophy and the foundation for our work with our nutritional therapy clients.
Now that we have tackled digestion, we will talk briefly about an almost equally important topic- blood sugar handling!
Nearly every client I work with has an imbalance in their blood sugar handling. Now what do I mean when I say “blood sugar handling”? This does not simply mean blood sugar- like a glucose reading on a blood sugar monitor.
Blood sugar handling is actually referring to how the body HANDLES, or processes and maintains, blood sugar levels. The main organs involved are the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands.
Sometimes the people I work with think that because they are not eating sugary foods or refined carbohydrates, that blood sugar is of no concern for them.
However, many of these people have issues with the ORGANS that handle blood sugar, and despite a healthful diet can not handle even the smallest amount of natural sugars, say like that found in a single serving of fruit.
A congested or overworked liver, burned out adrenal glands (from too much stress or illness) or tired pancreas does not handle the demands of maintaining blood sugar so easily.
Now why is proper blood sugar handling important?
Isn’t blood sugar simply a concern in conditions like diabetes? NO.
While diabetes is a very serious condition and one that definitely needs to be addressed with your physician, blood sugar dysregulation (either high OR low sugar) is a very serious strain on the body.
Blood sugar dysregulation affects our entire body, especially the endocrine (hormonal) system and circulatory and cardiovascular systems. Blood sugar imbalance causes serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies and is a huge factor in heart disease (no, it’s not cholesterol or saturated fat, but high blood sugar that causes these problems!)
Common conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, infertility, menopausal symptoms and other endocrine (hormonal) imbalances nearly universally have roots of blood sugar handling imbalances.
Any attempt to normalize the endocrine system (or balance hormones) is futile if blood sugar dysregulation is not addressed first.
In fact, some common treatments, like supplementing with hormones (even bioidentical/natural) can WORSEN the very condition they are being used to treat when blood sugar levels are high. This happens through a complex shunting reflex, that occurs during hormonal conversions, but the end result is far from the desired intention.
Blood sugar handling must be addressed by diet change and by balancing the organs involved in blood sugar regulation.
Now that we’ve covered digestion and blood sugar handling- the two biggest influences on physical health- we can briefly cover appropriate fatty acid and mineral balance before our next installment.
Fatty acid and mineral imbalances can occur as a result of digestive or blood sugar issues, but they can also be lacking in the diet.
Fatty acid imbalance is an extremely common issue because of our terribly misguided decades of low-fat dieting and the inclusion of extremely damaging and dangerous trans-fats (hydrogenated oils) in the food supply over the past 50 or so years.
Also, moving away from pastured meats and saturated fats and towards vegetable oils has increased Omega 6 fatty acids while decreasing Omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. These oils must be in ratio to each other at a rate of approximately 1:1 (with up to 4:1 acceptable) but most rates are in the high 20s:1 currently.
This leads to chronic inflammation in the body, which is a contributing factor to over 200 diseases and conditions.
And, if you don’t have appropriate fats in the diet, you can not absorb your minerals! That’s why it’s so important to butter those vegetables and put olive oil on your salad.
High blood sugar levels also deplete mineral (and vitamin) levels significantly, as does the ingestion of processed, devitalized food, stress (of all kinds) and illness.
Keep reading to Part 3, the final installment of this article on Essential Element Two .