Insulin Sensitivity and Fibromyalgia
The connection between insulin sensitivity and fibromyalgia (FM) has been well established. It is also known that people with fibromyalgia also have hypoglycemia – low blood sugar.
This is exacerbated by the need felt by FM sufferers to increase energy through the consumption of simple carbohydrates. As the wheel turns, fatigue creates carb cravings and the inability of the body to process the excess blood sugar that results from too many carbs leads to weight gain.
Carbohydrates stimulate insulin production which is designed to move glucose into cells where it can be burned as fuel for energy. A person with FM often has a hormonal malfunction which results in an overproduction of insulin and this overproduction means that carbohydrates are not used for fuel but are rather stored in the muscles as fat.
What is Reactive Hypoglycemia?
Reactive hypoglycemia (RHG) is different from fasting hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar resulting from not eating. RHG may be overlooked because it doesn’t manifest the same way as fasting hypoglycemia does.
RHG occurs within two or three hours after a large consumption of carbohydrates. The quick influx of carbs into the small intestine leads to rapid glucose absorption and the ultimate production of large amounts of insulin by the pancreas.
Additionally, adrenalin production increases and the adrenals are taxed. Adrenalin is produced to compensate for the excess of insulin from carb flooding. It continues to be produced regardless whether blood sugar falls or not. Left to run uncontrolled, RHG can develop into type 11 diabetes.
RHG may very well contribute to FM symptoms such as:
· Fibro fog
· Cold sensitivity
· Hypoglycemic symptoms
What are the Symptoms of RHG?
People with RHG are usually overweight and are unable to shed the pounds, a common problem for those with FM. Those with FM have imbalances within several systems in the body that lead to dysfunction. An electrolytic imbalance along with other biochemical imbalances means that the carbohydrates that are so desperately craved cannot be processed effectively.
Symptoms of RHG include:
· Increased sweating
· Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
· Concentration difficulties
· Heart palpitations
· Shaky hands
· Carb cravings
Fasting versus Reactive Hypoglycemia: what’s the difference?
Unlike fasting hypoglycemia, RHG occurs only when blood sugar levels in the body are upset by irregular eating patterns or high carbohydrate intake. The symptoms of RHG often disappear within five or ten minutes after eating sugar.
Women, who are the principal victims of FM, often experience a worsening of symptoms before menstruation. The symptoms usually worsen after childbirth as well.
It is possible to experience improvement in symptoms if a person goes on a limited carbohydrate diet. It takes about ten days to feel the improvements, but those ten days can be the days from hell. Fatigue and headaches abound and the temptation to eat sugar or drink caffeine is intense.
What Can I Do?
The understanding that diet is a major influence in well-being underscores the need to develop an eating plan that will address the blood sugar issues as well as promote weight loss.
As can be seen in other places on this site, a diet that is comprised of a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats is one of the best ways to curb blood glucose fluctuations and enhance feelings of well being.
You can also ensure that your blood glucose level is at a lower level by utilizing a glucose monitor which will give you accurate readings of your glucose levels which will allow you to avoid foods high in glucose.
Becoming aware of the glycemic index of foods is a good start in creating a healthy FM diet. The glycemic index measures the speed at which certain foods increase blood glucose levels.
High glycemic foods raise blood sugar quickly and low glycemic foods have the opposite effect. There are several books and plenty of information available on the net to help a person understand glycemic impact. This information can help the FM sufferer gain control of symptoms and even lose some weight.