Feeling weak and tired? Irritable? Unable to lose weight? You may be surprised to hear it, but these (and so many more) are signs of blood sugar issues.
Do you ever feel like something feels a little bit OFF when it comes to your health? Maybe your weight is spiraling out of control, despite your best efforts, or maybe it’s that you just don’t feel good some of the time, and you’re not sure why…chances are, there’s something going on with insulin levels—and your blood sugar.
Today’s post features some compelling new information from guest expert Danielle Hamilton, the host of the Unlock the Sugar Shackles Podcast, as well as the creator of the Blood Sugar Mastery Program. She’s an expert when it comes to recognizing these blood sugar issues and how dramatically they can affect our health.
In this post, we’ll be exploring the signs and symptoms of blood sugar issues, a topic SO critical to our health and yet so misunderstood and often ignored. Plus, we’ll learn how to overcome them naturally with Danielle’s advice.
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Meet Danielle Hamilton!
Before jumping right into the good stuff, let’s take a minute to really get to know our guest for today.
Danielle Hamilton is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner & Restorative Wellness Practitioner who specializes in blood sugar regulation & digestion.
She first became interested in blood sugar issues when she learned that insulin resistance was at the root of her own PCOS, and she was able to reverse her:
- Cystic acne
- Weight loss resistance
… all by reversing insulin resistance!
Now her mission is to help others uncover their blood sugar and insulin issues (as most people don’t know the early signs), as well as help them optimize digestion for low-carb diets. She’s all about taking a holistic approach that goes beyond just changing your macros.
In other words? She’s amazing, SO smart, and SO knowledgeable about this topic!
How her journey on the paleo diet led her to being an expert on blood sugar issues
Growing up in the late eighties and nineties, a period known as the “low-fat era”, breakfast staples included toaster strudels, Eggo waffles, and other cereal foods. These low-fat options were among the favorite breakfast foods of the time.
Constantly craving sweets and carbohydrates, Danielle didn’t realize it at the time, but her body was looking for more nutrient-dense foods. Between continually getting sicker the older she got and developing new allergies on a daily, she knew things needed to change.
She didn’t want to end up in a nursing home with a long list of medications and problems. She could see her life was heading that way—it was inevitable.
It wasn’t until she went on a paleo diet that she started to notice big shifts in her health and wellness. By combining the science of nutrition and research with her own personal experience, she began to uncover the things that work and those that don’t.
It was from this journey with the paleo diet that she started to feel better…until she didn’t.
The paleo diet didn’t last
After a year of being on the paleo diet and getting off all of her medications, she had a stressful season and all of a sudden started to feel really tired in the morning.
She started to experience a range of symptoms:
- ZERO energy
- Loss of period for 6 months (often referred to as amenorrhea)
- Intense acne
- Weight gain
Danielle recalls, ” I was just like, what is happening? Because this diet just healed me. So my natural instinct was to say, well, because this diet worked for me once, why don’t I just paleo harder?”
But that wasn’t the answer.
Realizing one day, she had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), she started to research and learn more about the condition. Maybe paleo wasn’t the right diet or lifestyle for her after all.
The difference between paleo and low carb
A low-carb diet is similar to the paleo diet in that it eliminates grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods. The difference lies in the macronutrient ratio: while a paleo diet consists of 40-60% carbohydrates for fuel, a low-carb diet has far fewer carbs (less than 20%) — with higher amounts of fat and protein.
But Danielle explains, “The paleo diet advocates for real food, but it’s more of a customizable template than a set of strict rules. My diet included plenty of fruit, plantains, sweet potatoes, kombucha, coconut sugar, acai bowls, smoothies, and even blended bananas in my iced coffee.
At the time, I thought this was healthy, but I now realize that I was consuming an excessive amount of sugar. Although carbohydrates can be healthy, the amount I was eating was definitely too much!
I always skipped the blood sugar sections of books. I kind of glossed over because I’m like, this doesn’t have to do with me. I don’t have diabetes. I don’t have to care about my blood sugar because I don’t have a problem.”
Little did she know, there were signs of blood sugar issues she was ignoring (or just didn’t realize were happening).
We’ve all heard of blood sugar before, but what does it really mean?
Blood sugar is the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Glucose is our primary source of energy, and without it, we just don’t function!
But if your body isn’t properly regulated when it comes to blood sugar, it can lead to all sorts of health issues like:
- Insulin resistance
- Adrenal fatigue
When your blood sugar is too high or too low, your body doesn’t work properly — leading to many different symptoms (keep reading to find out what they are).
How do you know if you have blood sugar issues?
It’s not as easy as it sounds to recognize the signs—and Danielle can tell you firsthand.
It all came to a head one day when she thought to herself, “Okay, if I have PCOS, which is like pretty advanced insulin resistance at this point, pretty advanced blood sugar issues driving this, I’m like, what are the blood sugar symptoms?”
But she didn’t know the answer. Neither did any of her friends that she had asked.
No one could tell her.
So, she decided to find out for herself and realized she definitely had the signs of blood sugar issues.
Typical symptoms many people experience:
- Waking up super shaky
- Unhealthy hunger
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Brain fog
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or swelling in the hands and feet
- Digestion issues
- Urinary tract infections
Note: Everyone has different signs of blood sugar and insulin issues. Pay attention to your body and its signals.
Signs of blood sugar issues no one recognizes
It’s not just the common symptoms. Danielle found that there were other signs of blood sugar issues she wasn’t aware of. It’s easy to overlook these symptoms, but they can really impact your mood and energy levels.
Have you ever experienced anxiety or shakiness or felt weak and lightheaded when you’re hungry or delayed a meal? These are the first signs that something may be off with your blood sugar levels.
Surprisingly, many people don’t even realize that their mood changes are related to blood sugar. When your brain runs out of energy, it can’t function properly, resulting in brain fog and irritability.
Think of it like the gas light turning on in your car’s dashboard—a warning sign that you need to refuel.
Another surprising symptom is cravings. Not just any simple cravings but desperately wanting to consume those high-carbohydrate foods.
It’s not just a matter of hunger. Your brain is sending signals because you’re running out of energy, which only gets worse with metabolic dysfunction. The more advanced the dysfunction, the more the cravings become urgent and intense, leaving you feeling like you need to eat right now or risk biting someone’s head off!
But don’t worry, you don’t have to resort to unhealthy snacks. Stay nourished with healthier options like grass-fed steak and veggies. Learn how to nourish your body with healthy options that provide sustained energy.
Tip: It’s not normal to be #HANGRY. It’s not a personality trait. It’s a blood sugar issue, and it could be fixed.
3) Heart palpitations
When our blood sugar levels are out of balance, our entire body is impacted. It’s common to experience sweating and overheating, while others may faint or feel like their heart is racing. But the consequences go much deeper.
Every organ and cell in our body is influenced by our blood sugar levels, and unbalanced levels can lead to negative impacts on our bodily processes.
It is a well-known fact that insulin resistance is the main cause of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, over-consumption of sugar can cause a depletion of magnesium in our bodies, which is crucial for relaxing our hearts.
Therefore, a lack of magnesium due to excessive sugar consumption can result in developing arrhythmias.
4) Memory loss
As blood sugar issues worsen and insulin levels rise, the body experiences a range of negative impacts. Brain symptoms can arise, potentially leading to memory loss and dementia. Alzheimer’s is even being referred to as “type three diabetes” due to its progression.
It’s crucial to manage blood sugar levels to maintain overall health and prevent these detrimental consequences.
5) Muscular degeneration in the eyes
Muscular degeneration in the eyes is a common occurrence among people with diabetes who experience prolonged periods of high blood sugar.
When sugar levels are too high, the body can’t remove it from the blood, and it accumulates.
This accumulation leads to a breakdown of the cells in the eye, affecting their ability to focus on things. As a result, people may experience blurred vision and be unable to see well up close or far away.
6) Irregular hormone levels
Imbalance in our diet not only affects our gut but also our adrenal glands due to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This can cause major stress and disrupt the hormonal system leading to hormonal imbalances, including PCOS.
High insulin levels affect our sex hormones and can have negative effects on male and female reproductive systems, even leading to infertility.
Normalizing insulin levels can alleviate these issues and help bring balance to the body’s hormonal system!
Learning how to regulate your blood sugar
When it comes to regulating your own blood sugar levels, the first step is recognizing the signs of blood sugar issues.
The next step is to understand how the foods we eat affect our glucose levels. Eating a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats helps keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
For Danielle, it took her going to the doctor 3 (yes, THREE) times and having her blood tested for PCOS monitoring for it to click in her mind. Her sugars were low at 60—and no one said a thing. No one said, “Hey, Danielle, you have low blood sugar.”
It was only after she started researching herself that she realized it: all of her symptoms and health issues were related to her blood sugar. And so she adopted the ketogenic diet.
After Danielle made the switch to living more of a low-carb lifestyle, she started to feel better.
No more binging. She didn’t think about food all of the time. And eventually, she was able to get rid of the cravings.
While she still works at it day to day, she now has more energy and is able to get through her day without extreme fatigue.
These days, Danielle is a functional nutrition therapy practitioner and is passionate about helping others learn more about blood sugar regulation. She knows that knowledge is power and that if people understand their bodies better, they can make better, more informed decisions about what to eat.
So, we asked Danielle some questions, and here’s what she had to say!
What was the best thing you took away from making your switch to keto?
“Freedom. The sort of freedom from food (and things I didn’t even realize I was chained to) that I could achieve by stabilizing my blood sugar and my insulin levels. It was amazing!”
What is something you commonly notice patients struggling with when it comes to blood sugar control?
“I generally see a common theme among my clients: Self-medication. This is because little is actually known about this thread, and it is not regularly talked about.
So if you’re taking painkillers because you have migraines or taking energy pills or having coffee and energy drinks all the time because of extreme fatigue, it’s actually a sign that your blood sugar levels are not in balance. But sometimes, it is easier to self-medicate than to do the deeper work of getting your blood sugar in balance.
The hardest part is that you go to your doctor, and they’ll say, “Oh, your blood sugar’s under a hundred; you’re fine.” And that’s not the case. My blood sugar was 60, I was not fine. I see so many people whose blood sugar fasting is 90. They’re not fine. They don’t feel well.
Sometimes, they don’t even test for it. And meanwhile, over 88% of the population has such advanced insulin resistance that it’s now called metabolic syndrome, which used to be called insulin resistance syndrome.
This is really impacting us on a huge scale, and there’s just not enough known, especially because people are going to their doctors and they’re being told they’re fine or it can’t be their blood sugar.
We need to do better.”
Should someone try the keto diet if they have blood sugar and insulin issues?
“Are you struggling to maintain stable blood sugar levels? Going low carb or keto may not be the right solution for you just yet.
If your body has metabolic inflexibility, cutting out carbs could make you feel terrible as your body struggles to access other fuel sources. This is especially true for those experiencing reactive hypoglycemia, where blood sugar levels crash after eating.
But don’t worry, there is hope!
Gradually transitioning to a low-carb or keto diet while supporting your body’s natural functions can help. However, this is a nuanced process that requires expert guidance, as much of the information out there is unreliable.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their journey with blood sugar regulation? Perhaps a recommendation or actionable step?
“I would start by taking a look at what you are eating. If you’re feeling hangry and experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar, adding fats to your plate can help you go longer between meals without crashing!
Many of us may be fat-phobic after living through the eighties and nineties, but increasing our fat intake can be beneficial. Don’t just rely on protein—get the fattiest cuts of meat, add avocados or nuts, or incorporate grass-fed butter or olive oil into your meals.
Your doctor may tell you to eat complex carbs and protein for reactive hypoglycemia, but fats are often the missing piece. Remember to pair your protein with adequate amounts of healthy fats to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
And, one secret hack I HAVE to share with you all: apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is a powerhouse for both blood sugar and digestion. Not only does it lower your body’s blood sugar and insulin response to meals, but it also increases stomach acid and bile acids, making it a great addition to your pre-meal routine.
Tip: Opt for one tablespoon mixed with a small amount of water and a pinch of cinnamon for taste, and drink it a few minutes before eating. This will give you all the benefits without the need for a large glass of diluted vinegar.
Trust me, your body will thank you!”
It is clear that blood sugar regulation and digestion issues can have a major impact on our overall health. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help us achieve balance in these areas of our lives.
By being mindful of the signs and symptoms of blood sugar imbalances, taking actionable steps such as eating more healthy fats paired with protein or adding apple cider vinegar to meals before consuming them, and seeking out expert guidance when needed, we can all make strides towards better health through improved blood sugar regulation.
With the right approach and support system in place, it’s possible for anyone to get their blood sugar levels back into balance. This is exactly what our brand new (and totally free!) on demand video training covers. It will help you understand why it’s been so hard to lose weight and get healthy for life without dieting, drugs or making yourself miserable and what do to about it.
Want to hear more? Listen to this podcast, HERE!
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