Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the metabolism of sugars. It can be caused by lack of production of insulin like in diabetes type 1 or by insulin resistance, which is very common in type 2. Stress is a very natural response to danger, and its mechanisms are what cause struggles in people with diabetes. Many people with diabetes who go through stressful situations experience high blood sugar levels. What causes this trend? We are going to analyze what is stress, and how it affects people with diabetes.
Stress is a natural response to danger, and it forms part of the fight and fly response. The mechanics are simple, whenever we experience a shock or perceive a threat, our organism releases hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, and growth hormone. These stress hormones will help us survive in this time of need by allowing us to run faster and fight harder. Physiologically, stress hormones increase heart rate and blood pressure; these responses let us deliver more oxygen and blood sugar power to important muscles. Breathing increases in order to supply more oxygen for energy conversion. Plus, our immune system is activated and ready to be administered to wounds. Our attention shifts to the threat and excludes everything else. Finally, the circulation to our extremities decreases, and we feel not pain. Our body is ready to fight or fight whichever we choose.
In modern society this type of response is rarely necessary, unless we just happen to leave in the jungle. However, we have other types of stress that trigger the same hormonal response. These situations vary from a difficult boss, a divorce, demanding children, or illness. Researchers believe the more we are exposed to these stressors, the more reactive our system becomes. Nowadays, most people undergo huge amounts of stress. The rapid life style does not leave much time to relax, and we are constantly overexerting our bodies in order to comply with the demands our society has for us.
Why are people with diabetes more affected by stress? The main reason is that stress elevates blood sugar levels; this is in response to our body’s need for extra energy in order to fight or flight. In a person without diabetes there would be some hormonal reactions in order to control the sugar released into the blood stream; however, in people with diabetes this mechanism does not work properly. There are many complications that arise from hyperglycemia. When high sugars are combined with the natural response of our body to stress, it can create bad outcomes like excess work for the heart, poor circulation, and damage to blood vessels due to high sugars.
We can conclude that stress increases your chances of high sugars; however, there are other ways stress affects blood sugar levels. These are lack of focus into diabetes care. When we are under stress we are programmed to neglect all distractions as these could cost us our lives. Well nowadays, no bear is going to jump at us from behind, but it is a lot easier to forget to test your sugar regularly or take some time for exercise. Another way is that some people tend to stress eat, if you have diabetes and stress eating is you way to cope with stress, you might be making everything worse. Stress hormones increase not just sugar levels in blood, but they also increase insulin resistance.
What can we do to reduce the negative effects of stress in our blood sugar? The best way to deal with stress is avoid it. It is true we cannot seclude ourselves from the world, but we can learn techniques that can help fight high stress levels and helps us live a healthier life. Exercise, is perhaps the most important one, but we can also improve our coping style, this means trying to replace negative thought with positive ones. Also, breathing exercises have shown positive results in improving stress levels, and finally, getting some emotional support from either loved one or a therapist. Also paying close attention to blood sugar levels can help us stop a high, and when we combining this with a healthy diet, no more stressing about stress! Tell us what works for you when dealing with stress in a comment below.