You likely have a sense about stress being a bad thing for your health and happiness. Studies have shown that chronic stress can be more fatal than smoking1 and a stronger predictor of weight gain than genetics.2 As important as it is, you may feel that its causes are beyond your control. Many feel resigned to hectic schedules and the pressures of modern life. I’d like to work with you to rebrand your concept of what stress is and what you can do about it.
The original concept of stress comes from a researcher named Dr. Hans Selye. It was a response that he saw was caused in laboratory animals from a wide variety of triggers. Some of these triggers we would immediately think of as stress, such as loud noises and dangerous situations. Yet many other invisible factors can trigger this same stress response.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest causes behind stress is your blood sugar. When it is kept between the glucose levels of 75 to 95, (ng/dl) you function at your best. The more time you spend outside of this range or the more radically your blood sugar shifts within this range, the more your body feels stressed.
How can your blood sugar cause stress? When we experience regular stress, our adrenal glands make more of a stress hormone called cortisol. Along with managing stress, this hormone also manages your blood sugar. Whenever your blood sugar level changes too fast, your adrenal glands release cortisol to pull it back up again. Unstable blood sugar can make you feel the same as you would feel when an event makes you angry, frustrated or frightened.