Blood Glucose & Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is founded on a concept of balance, balance between the Yin and the Yang. This concept applies to everything beyond just Yin and Yang, and included in that is the balance of blood glucose. In this blog, we explore the significance of blood glucose and how its fluctuations can impact your well-being. We’ll briefly touch on PCOS as a follow-up to our last blog, and we’ll chat about Chinese Medicine.

Understanding Blood Glucose

Blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, refers to the concentration of glucose (a type of sugar) in the bloodstream. It is the primary source of energy for cells in the body and plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health.

After eating, especially meals rich in carbohydrates, blood glucose levels tend to rise. This rise happens as the digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. This increase triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps cells absorb glucose for energy or storage. Consequently, blood glucose levels typically peak within an hour or two after eating and then gradually return to baseline as insulin facilitates the uptake of glucose by cells or its conversion into glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles.

How Fluctuations Affect You:

Seeing as our levels are affected by what we eat, rising and then falling once again as we digest, our levels ebb and flow. This ebb and flow is a natural response and the body has ways of regulating this process. However, if our levels regularly and sharply spike, we can find ourselves on the rollercoaster that is unregulated blood glucose levels. This ebb and flow can manifest in various ways, influencing both physical and mental well-being.

Sudden spikes may result in:
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentration
Prolonged levels can contribute to:
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes

On the other hand, low blood sugar can lead to:

  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Overwhelming fatigue

So, clearly, it is vital to regulate our blood glucose levels to stay off that nasty rollercoaster of symptoms.

The relationship between PCOS and Blood Glucose

Now, seeing as the last blog was all about PCOS and I promised I would chat a bit more about insulin resistance, I thought I’d just throw something in quickly.

PCOS often coexists with insulin resistance, a condition where cells fail to respond effectively to insulin, leading to elevated insulin levels in the blood. (Reminder: insulin is released by the pancreas to help absorb glucose in response to a rise in glucose as we eat or drink it). These elevated insulin levels can contribute to various symptoms of PCOS and are associated with increased risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other metabolic disorders.

Insulin/glucose spikes occur when blood sugar levels rapidly rise and fall after consuming high-glycemic foods or beverages. While occasional spikes may not pose immediate harm, frequent or sustained spikes can disrupt hormonal balance, exacerbate insulin resistance, and further contribute to PCOS symptoms including weight gain and irregular menstrual cycles, etc.

Chinese Medicine:

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), blood glucose is viewed as a vital component of overall health and is closely linked to the balance of Qi (vital energy) and Yin-Yang within the body. According to TCM principles, disruptions in Qi flow, excess heat, and imbalances in Yin and Yang can lead to fluctuations in blood glucose levels. TCM treatments such as acupuncture and herbal medicine aim to restore balance in the body, which can help regulate levels naturally.

Steps to Improve Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Maintain a balanced diet: with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Limit intake of processed sugars and refined carbohydrates: These foods often contain more glucose. Remember, glucose is a type of sugar. So, if we’re consuming items with lots of glucose we get higher spikes and more insulin.
  • Engage in regular physical activity: Regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercise and strength training. This can also help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by cells.
  • Manage stress: stress hormones can impact blood glucose levels so try more meditation, deep breathing, and get some good sleep.
  • Work with healthcare professionals: develop personalised strategies for blood glucose regulation.
  • Check out the Glucose Goddess on Instagram: this Instagram page is super helpful in understanding glucose spikes. Not only that, the Glucose Goddess offers some incredibly simple and easy hacks to implement that are research-based. For example, going for a 10-minute walk after food or starting having a veggie starter at a meal.

If you made it to this point, thank you for sticking around! And, if you want to hear more just reach out to the clinic and we can have a chat or book an appointment.

Hope to see you soon, Zoe

Zoe Finger discussing Blood glucose and Chinese Medicine
Published on March 27, 2024