The American Dilemma - “over-fed but under-nourished.”
Together, Cortisol and Insulin maintain blood glucose homeostasis, or stability. The more sugars and starches we consume, the more insulin we need to process those carbohydrates, and therefore the more frequently we are going to dip down to low glucose (hypoglycemia) states. These low blood sugar episodes in turn trigger stress reactions from the adrenal glands, which give us bursts of cortisol (the main stress hormone), which causes release of stored glucose from body tissues in order to raise blood glucose concentration back up to normal levels. In healthy people, this adaptation occurs gently and un-noticed a few times daily.
Excess stress, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, and high blood sugar or pre-diabetes, as well as hypertension or high blood pressure, are all closely tied to the typical American status: All of these disorders involve deregulation of carbohydrate metabolism, specifically overproduction of the hormones insulin and cortisol. For those in the grips of unrelenting stress, or for those who are habituated to SAD, the Standard American Diet (with its surplus of sugars, starches, and additives), insulin resistance, hypoglycemic episodes and frequent spontaneous stress reactions are all too common.
Dr. Hoffman calls this “the blood sugar roller coaster,”which can cause such symptoms as:
- mood swings
- hypothalamic imbalance
- leptin resistance
- weight gain
- a "spare tire"around the abdomen
- overwhelming cravings for starches, sweets or alcohol
- increases in triglycerides (blood fats) and the bad cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), made by the liver to carry around the heavy burden of blood-borne fats that are made from all those sugars and starches.
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