A Mini Guide on How Does Stress Affect Glucose Levels?

Dr.Poonam Sharma

December 6, 2022

Today, you could get your groceries delivered to your doorsteps, pay bills online and drive around in an automatic car. Now that AI has taken over and made man comfortable, would you say your lives have become less stressful? Maybe, maybe not. The fast-paced modern days come with their shortcomings where time is everything and productivity is a success. This idea has taken people further away from rest and peace. It has drained people of energy and has created a high-stress environment around us. 

This article will help you understand how your continuous hustle that leaves you stressed might not be great for your overall well being. You will also discover how you could develop habits to stay healthy with real-time health status and proper guidance.

Understanding Stress

Stress is the physical and emotional response to events that threaten or challenge people in various ways. For example, it can be a response to an unpleasant event like having network issues during your job interview or an event like preparing for your sister’s wedding. The possibility or the situation that is the source of stress is called a stressor. 

It is essential to keep in mind that people’s minds and bodies may react to the same stressor differently. It is a by-product of the fact that everyone responds differently to triggers and their bodies are unique. Stress is a bodily response to protect you from danger and ensures the body’s wellbeing. Also, as a result, the human body, when under stress, releases stress hormones (mainly adrenaline and cortisol). It coincides with an energy spurt to function effectively. 

Types of Stress

Positive Stress and Negative Stress

A positive response, also known as eustress, stimulates you to face a challenging event and complete a task. It assists you in dealing with what you must face or resolve. It can lead to feelings of fulfilment, accomplishment, and contentment.

When you are distressed or have a negative response to a stressor, you may experience worry, fear, and despair. In addition, prolonged negative stress may lead to chronic stress and anxiety and manifest as physical ailments.

Acute Stress and Chronic Stress

Acute stress is the most common stress that we experience daily. It leads to joy, thrill, and even decision making in our daily lives. For example, riding a horse for the first time can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Whereas riding a horse known for its unpredictable anger can make you too stressed, you decide that you do not want to ride that horse.

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is unhealthy and counter-productive. Prolonged stressful situations such as being in dysfunctional families, unhappy relationships, traumatic events, poverty, loss of livelihood, and chronic illnesses cause this sort of stress. These stressful events appear to go on forever, and the combined pressure from continuous contact with them can be life-threatening.  

How Does Stress Affect Your Health?

The significant difference between healthy stress and unhealthy stress is the length of the period each lasts. So the stress you might experience during a football match or for an upcoming presentation is the kind that persists for a short interval and hence does not cause harm. 

It is a known fact that anything beyond a certain extent becomes harmful. For example, long term stress can lead to the wear and tear of the human body. In addition, the stress hormones and energy spurt that gets released during stress and becomes persistent can have adverse effects. 

Headaches, backaches, skin rashes, indigestion, chronic fatigue, and the common cold are some physical consequences of long term stress. Also, research suggests long term stress could lead to psychosomatic disorders like ulcers, asthma, arthritis, and high blood pressure. 

The Effect of Long-Term Stress on Your Glucose Levels

Prolonged stress can spike blood sugar levels. When the body is under long term chronic stress, it produces larger quantities of cortisol (stress hormone) than released under any other type of stress.

One of the innovative offerings from HealthifyPro, helps us monitor and regulate our glucose fluctuations.

The body reduces insulin release when cortisol levels are high. Also, insulin aids in transporting sugar from the bloodstream to cells, where it gets used for energy. Therefore, more sugar stays in the bloodstream if insulin isn’t released correctly, resulting in an imbalance of blood sugar levels.

Both directly and indirectly, stress can impact blood sugar levels. For example, chronic stress can result in long-term high cortisol levels, resulting in reduced insulin secretion. As a result, stress increases the possibility of diabetes.

People who undergo stressful situations for a long time may develop regular alcohol consumption or smoking habits, which disturb blood sugar levels. Addiction is reasonably common among us, and it can be a direct offshoot of stress. Cognitive dissonance is a contradiction that lies within us. We form habits that we know have adverse effects on us. The cognitive dissonance manifests in behaviours like stress eating, smoking, binge drinking etc. Chronic stressors are usually challenging to avoid; hence, reducing stress to prevent sugar spikes stays crossed out. One easy way to check on your sugar spike is to monitor it regularly.

Does Positive Stress Affect Your Glucose Levels?

Stress, both positive and negative, healthy and unhealthy, acute and chronic, affects blood sugar levels. In addition, many of your habits may change during stress, including eating habits, sleep quality and pattern, and exercise routine. 

Research has proven that comparatively less stressed and happier individuals have healthier diets. When in a state of excitement or during focus hours of working, many people may forget or delay eating, similarly to times of distress. For example, students motivated by positive stress to prepare for exams may eat too little before exams and over-eat after exams, affecting sugar levels. 

Events like moving to a new city, receiving a job promotion, and your child’s birth are pleasant experiences but can induce stress. As a result, hormone secretion and other reasons will spike or reduce blood sugar levels. So we do not always need unhappy situations to feel that we are under stress. 

How to Know if Stress Raises Your Glucose Levels?

  • Rate your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 indicates the lowest and 10 is the highest; record your stress level in your logbook.
  • You could order a metabolic panel home screening to test your blood sample for over 80 health parameters. Stress and blood sugar correlation can affect health parameters which have far-reaching consequences. 
  • You could also use continuous glucose monitoring or the CGM to know your glucose levels in real-time and make the required decisions with proper guidance. CGM is an easy wearable technology that has a built-in sensor. With every food or drink intake, we can see a spike in our glucose levels. Also, when you subscribe to this solution, the HealthifyPro coach handholds you to bring in the right interventions. It could be as easy as taking a few deep breaths, which could help you cope better with glucose fluctuations, thereby reducing the risk of a chronic illness. 
  • Examine your data every few weeks to discover if there are any patterns between your glucose levels and stress levels. 
  • Once you know how your body reacts under stress and what you might need to know to bring your glucose levels back to normal, you can quickly form sustainable habits. 

Tips to Reduce Stress

1. When you’re stressed, track your blood sugar levels. Be sure to observe when you are stressed, and that’s when you should keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels and make any required dietary or medication changes.

2. With time and experience, people learn how to deal with minor life stressors. Simple lifestyle modifications, such as going for a short stroll to clear your head, can make a big difference.

 3. Many practice breathing exercises, listen to music, do yoga, or play a sport to let the stress out of their bodies and help them handle glucose more efficiently. According to a study, aerobics exercises could help reduce mental stress levels.  

4. Another practical approach to decreasing stress is to talk it out. Sharing your concerns with a friend, family member, or mentor could help you feel better.

5. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll find yourself coping with emotional stress. On the other hand, sleeping as much as 9 hours a day can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. As a result, it is critical to regulating sleep hours, not too little, not too much. With HealthifyPro, you can also track the optimum amount of sleep levels.  

6. Develop a better grasp of how to care for yourself. It is critical to maintain a regular schedule and not skip a doctor’s visit. To detect any odd changes in your blood sugar levels, you should use blood-glucose monitoring kits or a CGM. 

7. Remember to speak to your health coach about any significant life changes that alter the way you feel and your blood glucose levels. It will empower you to craft a long-term health strategy that will teach you to slow down and recognise your emotional needs and voids.

Since we have already established that stress can take a toll on your glucose levels, why not monitor it and have first-hand experience from the comfort of your home? HealthifyPro’s CGM allows you to understand all about your glucose levels and their relationship with stress, food and your lifestyle. 

About the Author

I, Dr. Poonam have 3+ years of experience in the field of Medicine. Currently serving as a Resident Physician at HealthifyMe, I have worked with premier hospitals such as Manipal Hospital, Bangalore as a Resident in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery and Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital, Chennai as a Medical Officer. I aspire to put my knowledge in medicine to use in providing healthcare and fitness services to people and help enhance my abilities in meeting the ever-growing healthcare needs.

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