Stress and blood sugar levels are two interrelated words linked to diabetes. As humans, virtually everything around us is a potential stressor. To complicate the situation, Covid-19 threw our world into pandemonium. Countless people suffer from anxiety nowadays – reasons range from loss of loved ones to being out of a job, isolation, and depression. According to a report*, 56% of young adults between 18 and 24 have complained about depressive disorder and anxiety symptoms. Older adults are not spared either.
Is there any link between diabetes and stress? How does stress affect blood sugar level? We cover these questions and others in this article.
What are the links between stress and diabetes?
Many people are already familiar with the relationship between stress and diabetes. However, only a few understand how stress and blood sugar levels are related.
Stress is anything that triggers physiological and psychological responses from our body system. All of the stressors mentioned above can have a devastating effect on our psyche.
Our endocrine activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis alongside the central nervous system when we experience stress. HPA triggers abnormal hormone releases. These include high cortisol, epinephrine, and glucagon levels. All these hormones suppress the effect of insulin. A drop in insulin level, in turn, results in more glucose in your blood. During this critical moment, your body will try to adjust. By then, you might experience abnormal cravings for junk food and alcohol. If you have diabetes, your body will struggle to control these hormones. This, in turn, leads to a rise in your blood sugar level.
Managing stress and smart ways to monitor blood sugar level
Stress management for diabetes involves every activity that keeps hormonal and glucose levels in control. These include a healthy diet, medications, exercise, and others. Here, we will walk you through how you can manage and provide smart ways to monitor blood sugar levels.
“Did you know?” A condition you know little to nothing about often appears more dangerous than it is. You might read several unfounded stories about diabetes from people that don’t know anything about the condition. Gradually, they plant this huge fear into your subconscious mind. Next, you develop anxiety and aggravate your stress level. Sounds familiar? One smart way to handle this is to book an appointment with your doctor and learn as much as you can about your condition. You can also join a diabetes support group in your local community.
Work on your diet
Incorporating a well-planned diet can help manage stress and regulate your blood sugar level. When you consume a healthy meal, you will control your insulin and glycemic more effectively. There have been many controversies about the diets that work best for people with diabetes. However, there is a consensus that plant-based diets are more beneficial in managing the condition. A study** shows that junk food, sweetened beverages, saturated fat, and alcohol increase the risk of elevating diabetes by 16%.
Take a break from tobacco and nicotine
Contrary to popular belief that tobacco helps you calm your nerves and manage your stress level, the contrary is the case! Nicotine, the active substance in tobacco, creates a false sense of relaxation. It achieves this by indirectly releasing dopamine in the brain to simulate a calming effect. However, at the same time, it stimulates the adrenal glands, which results in the release of adrenaline. This, in turn, results in an immediate release of glucose, increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Nicotine also makes the pancreas produce less insulin, causing increased blood sugar levels.
Adopt regular exercise
Exercise has many positive effects on your cardiovascular system, hormonal control, and blood circulation. Engaging in physical activity will help you relax and make you sleep better. Thus, you can ease stress and put your blood glucose level in check.
Why you should monitor your blood sugar level and how new technology can help
Continuous blood sugar monitoring is one smart way to manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This gives you full control to see the effect of different activities on your glucose level. These include eating habits, exercise, sleeping patterns, and your general lifestyle.
Having this information will safeguard against complications that accompany diabetes. These include high blood pressure, heart diseases, and blood vessel damage. Others are microvascular complications, stroke, and many more.
Since blood sugar monitoring is an activity that you need to perform frequently, it’s best to take advantage of innovative technologies. They can help you with self monitoring of blood glucose.
With Diabetes:M, you can monitor nearly all aspects of your diabetes. The app is designed for all types of diabetes and pre-diabetes and allows you to track your glucose levels, blood pressure, food intake, and exercise routine.
Dolapo Adepoju is a researcher with a keen interest in genetic disorders’ epidemiology. He enjoys creating awareness for health conditions through research and academic writing. He’s currently is a post-graduate student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden, with a special interest in Genetics.