By Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS
If you find yourself being tired all the time, maybe it has something to do with your blood-sugar control. In fancier terms, that means your glucose levels may be fluctuating.
Glucose, a simple sugar, is essential for life and energy. Glucose enters our circulatory system and gets transported to our cells via the blood, thus “‘blood’ sugar.”
Production of glucose starts with being able to digest the sugars and starches (carbohydrates) as well as the protein in your diet. If you can’t digest carbohydrates or protein adequately, you will not have enough glucose to energize the body and then fatigue results.
Every single cell in the body needs glucose for fuel, including the brain! The brain must have a constant source of glucose to run the body’s functions because the cells in the brain cannot make and store their own glucose—unlike other cells in the body.
When the body’s digestive system is working normally, glucose travels the small intestine to the liver. The glucose then leaves the liver via the blood and the hormone insulin brings the glucose into all the cells in the body, including the brain, for use as fuel. The liver will convert any excess glucose to glycogen, a reserve kept “in storage” to be released when blood sugar drops.
When blood sugar drops too much, there is not enough glucose getting to the brain. That’s when a backup system takes over. The brain signals the pancreas to release a hormone called glucagon that in turn signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol and adrenaline help the liver to convert glycogen back to glucose to raise the blood sugar. (See the chart How the Body Maintains Blood Sugar).
Difficulties with Blood Sugar Regulation—Four Common Causes:
Blood sugar difficulties usually fall under one of four common causes.
- Difficulty digesting starches and sugar to make glucose;
- Difficulty making glycogen;
- Difficulty retrieving glycogen;
- Difficulty absorbing glucose, that is, insulin resistance.
The first three causes are a fuel-supply problem—it’s about getting enough glucose to the cells. The fourth cause is a transportation problem—an inability to get glucose into the cells.
Any one or more of these four factors may be causing you to experience symptoms of feeling tired.
If you have to have your morning coffee, or hit the sweets midafternoon every day to “avoid a crash,” these are signs that you are having blood sugar–regulation problems. When this happens, low blood sugar falls below the optimal range and hypoglycemia occurs. Symptoms of hypoglycemia, which tend to occur between meals, include irritability, light-headedness, sugar cravings, poor sleep, memory loss, and fatigue.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these causes as it relates to poor blood-sugar regulation and feeling tired.
Difficulty Digesting Starches and Sugar to Make Glucose
Fundamentally, normal blood-sugar regulation all starts with proper digestion. If we are not digesting our food and absorbing our glucose properly, we simply can’t get adequate levels of glucose to fuel our cells and our brain.
Difficulty Making Glycogen
A large percentage of people have difficulty making glycogen because they lack adequate levels of cortisol from the adrenal glands or they do not have a usable form of calcium. Did you know that milk does not provide a usable source of calcium for about 60 percent of folks? Think of this problem as an empty fuel tank that you cannot fill.
Difficulty Retrieving Glycogen
Other people can make glycogen effectively but are unable to retrieve it from storage in the liver. If the glycogen cannot be converted into glucose, it is useless as a form of energy. Think of it as the fuel line being blocked even though there is plenty of gas in the tank.
Sometimes supplementing with activated B6 can help with this problem.
Did You Know?
86 million adults are classified as prediabetic in America and 29 million have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Difficulty Absorbing Glucose
When the cells cannot absorb the glucose, the fuel can’t get to the cells. This is insulin resistance—and its latter-stage partner diabetes. High levels of sugar in the blood (because it is not being absorbed) is the beginning of diabetes. It’s as if the fuel tank is full of fuel, and the lines are flowing freely, but the fuel injectors are clogged and the pistons do not have the fuel to fire and power the engine.
Trace minerals of chromium, vanadium, or zinc may be helpful in opening the door for glucose to enter the cells.
How You Can Restore Blood-Sugar Control
You don’t have to live the rest of your life fatigued. By addressing one of these four causes, we can help you improve your digestion and overcome fatigue and blood-sugar problems, such as hypoglycemia. Our focus is multidimensional to include the digestive aspects as well as stimulating the neurological and hormonal systems to help restore your body’s blood-sugar balance.
If you suffer from the roller-coaster ride of being tired all the time, find out how we can help you. Call our office at the Digestion Relief Center—530-899-8741—to set up a consultation with Dr. Patrick. Learn more at www.DigestionReliefCenter.com.
Since 1999, Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, has helped North State residents by using a whole-body systems approach to health. He specializes in providing natural relief for food and environmental sensitivities, intolerances, and digestive problems. For more information, contact Dr. Patrick at, 530-899-8741 or visit www.DigestionReliefCenter.com.
© 2017. Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS. All Rights Reserved.
How the Body Maintains Blood Sugar
The black lines in the circle indicate the body’s pathways for maintaining normal blood sugar. The red lines indicate the backup pathways when blood sugar falls. Whenever the blood sugar dips, it becomes an emergency for the brain. This is because our brain cells do not make glucose and recruit the hormonal system to make up the difference.
© 2017. Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS. All Rights Reserved.
Tired Because You Can’t Fall Back Asleep?
What happens when a hypoglycemic person wakes in the night and tries to go back to sleep?
One of two things: Either you do not have enough glycogen stored in the liver and muscles, or you cannot retrieve the glycogen. When this happens, low blood sugar becomes critical because the brain must have glucose to function. So the body resorts to emergency measures. In the absence of glucose, the adrenal glands shift to fight-or-flight mode to release adrenaline “to pump you up.” Unfortunately, under the influence of adrenaline, the body is now wide awake and you feel as if you are racing instead of sleeping.