Hormones and Blood Glucose

Ask our CDE

Hormones and Blood Glucose

Question: Why do hormones make my BG so crazy? How can I beat back the nasty hormonal effects on my BG? 

Answer: While most women deal with mood swings and food cravings during their menstrual cycle or other periods of hormonal imbalance such as pregnancy, those with diabetes may also have to deal with the sometimes unfortunate side effects that hormone imbalances can have on blood glucose control. Insulin, the major hormone involved in blood glucose control, is triggered by the consumption of carbohydrates. When the diet consists of very high carbohydrate foods at irregular times, insulin’s function can become disrupted. Because insulin is closely connected to many other hormones in the body, including estrogen and testosterone, these disruptions can affect both our mood and our blood glucose. While maintaining good blood glucose control is important during all times of the month, it can require a little extra attention during periods of high hormonal imbalances.  

4 tips to beat the hormonal effects on blood glucose:

  1. Rather than aiming to consume little or no carbohydrates, focus on glycemic control: This is the specific effect that various carbohydrate-containing foods have on blood glucose response. Just because blueberries and a chocolate bar both contain sugar does not mean they affect blood glucose response the same way. Foods that contain fiber, such as blueberries, will promote a more stable blood glucose response and lead to less ups and downs throughout the day.

  2. Pair carbohydrates with protein and/or healthy fat: Instead of snacking on chips or crackers (which we know aren’t generally healthy choices in the first place), aim for snacks made up of a variety of nutrients. Examples include a piece of fruit paired with string cheese or nut butter (carbs + protein + fat), toasted bread topped with avocado (carbs + fat), and plain greek yogurt with berries (carbs + protein). The combinations are endless, and the mix of nutrients will promote both an increased feeling of fullness and more stable blood glucose readings

  3. Reduce stress and schedule self-care: While lowering stress is important for many aspects of life and health, it can also have a big impact on improved blood glucose control. Getting in the habit of taking quick but regular breaks throughout the day to get fresh air, take deep breaths, or listen to calming music can make more difference than many may think! And if you know your menstrual cycle is around the corner, take time to add some 'me time' to your calendar. We all need a little extra care when our hormones aren't at their best. So plan a massage, walk with your girlfriend, a nice relaxing bath, or anything else that you like to help you relax and unwind...it really will make a difference.

  4. Look in your spice rack: Recent research suggests that a compound in cinnamon can help stimulate insulin receptors which can improve insulin sensitivity. So pull out your spice rack and start adding cinnamon to lattes, greek yogurt, nut butters, etc. Not a fan of the taste of cinnamon? Consider taking it as a supplement in capsule form with the suggested dose being 500 mg of cinnamon extract taken twice daily.