Glucose levels, or blood sugar, are the body’s primary energy source. You obtain it from the food you consume. However, it also plays a significant role in maintaining the body’s metabolism. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, aids in transporting glucose into the body’s cells. The first signs of poor metabolic health appear when you eat the wrong foods, and the blood glucose levels are not in accordance. It leads to overweight and obesity and several other lifestyle diseases.
Being overweight can increase the risk of poor performance in several spheres. Also, it definitely creates a negative body image issue. All of these can affect one’s mental health. Similarly, stress and lack of sleep can lead to the hormones going haywire, leading to a feeling of exhaustion and fatigue.
Different life stages like postpartum, recovery from illnesses, losing a loved one, or even the loss of a career or displacement are several reasons that make us resort to food as a point of comfort. Therefore, knowing the relationship between food, how blood glucose levels fluctuate, and how wrong food choices lead us to a labyrinth of ill mental and physical health is imperative. HealthifyPRO 2.0 makes it easy with the power of 5: calorie counting, continuous glucose monitoring, pro coaches, smart scale and metabolic panel.
High Glucose Levels: The Health Impact and Statistical Data
High insulin levels can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Conversely, if the pancreas does not produce the required insulin levels, it can lead to Type 1 Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes.
According to the 2019 data, approximately half a billion people worldwide have diabetes. Furthermore, this number is estimated to increase steadily in the future. Hypoglycemia occurs when there are low levels of sugar in the body. It is common in people with diabetes.
As per a WHO report, depression is a mood disorder that affects about 3.8% of the world’s population, around 280 million people. The symptoms include loss of interest in everyday activities, feelings of sadness and sleep disturbances. When a person experiences a stressful situation, the body’s response is anxiety. It is a normal response, and the person fears the future. Anxiety is a reasonably common response that almost everyone experiences at some point in life.
A study found that the prevalence rate of depression was three times higher in people with type 1 diabetes. For people with type 2 diabetes, the prevalence rate of depression was two times higher when compared to people who don’t have diabetes. According to another study, 40% of people with diabetes have increased anxiety levels. These studies suggest a connection between diabetes (high glucose levels), hypoglycemia, depression and anxiety.
The HealthifyMe Note
When you get into a full-blown case of diabetes, PCOS or any debilitating lifestyle disease, the possibility of depression rises. In addition, high blood glucose levels are usually the starting point of metabolic syndromes, which can lead to conditions like obesity and physical and mental health issues.
Depression and Its Symptoms
Depression, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder, leads to various problems. These problems can be emotional, physical or social. A few risk factors include a family history of depression, stress, trauma and other diseases.
Some people with severe depression might even have suicidal thoughts. Therefore, consulting a medical professional is the best way to deal with depression. As per research, the symptoms of depression include the following.
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sadness
- Sleep disturbances like insomnia (very little sleep) or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities (e.g. hobbies)
- Feeling tired or lack of energy
- Reduced appetite or overeating, which leads to weight fluctuations
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Anxiety and frustration
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Unexplained symptoms like headaches or body pain
Anxiety and Its Symptoms
Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations. It includes a feeling of fear or uneasiness. However, if anxiety lasts for a more extended period or is very severe, it needs medical attention. The following are symptoms of anxiety.
- Increase in heart rate or irregular heart rate (palpitations)
- Dry mouth
- Tensing of muscles
- Shortness of breath
Glucose Levels and Their Physiological Functions
Glucose is the source of energy for the body and the brain. The blood carries glucose and transports it to the cells that use it for proper functioning. Here, glucose breaks down further and releases energy. It is stored mainly in the liver and muscles. Some parts of the eye, such as the lens and the retinal cells for vision sensing, depend exclusively on glucose for energy. The innermost region of the kidneys also relies solely on glucose for functioning.
Glucose Levels and Brain Health
Human brains require a large amount of glucose constantly to function. Research suggests that the brain consumes about 20% of the body’s energy produced from glucose. The brain’s primary fuel is glucose, which helps maintain cells and produce neurotransmitters. In the brain, the regions responsible for cell death require glucose. Therefore, a disbalance in glucose levels can cause brain diseases, like the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Normal Glucose Levels
Conventionally, people test their glucose levels before having a meal. Therefore, the fasting levels of blood glucose are considerable. An adult’s normal fasting glucose level is 70-100 mg/dL. If it is between 100-125 mg/dL, it can be considered prediabetes and requires making changes in lifestyle and monitoring it regularly. If the level is 126 or higher on at least two different tests, the person has diabetes. However, the role of glucose levels goes beyond developing conditions like diabetes.
The HealthifyMe Note
Every individual reacts to different foods in different ways. For example, a particular food may not raise your glucose levels to what it does in some other individual, and vice versa. Hence, it is essential to understand the glucose impact of a particular food on your body. Also, rather than waiting for the emergence of conditions like diabetes, it is better to assess the effect of foods on your glucose levels to prevent such situations.
High Blood Glucose Levels and Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of diabetes, occurs when blood glucose levels are constantly high. Insulin is responsible for helping cells use glucose and thereby produce energy. Sometimes, the body produces very little insulin or not enough insulin. In some cases, the body might not be able to use insulin well. These can result in chronic diabetes.
Diabetes, if left untreated, can result in other diseases as well. These include stroke, heart disease, kidney problems, eye damage, nerve disease, etc. Therefore, healthcare experts recommend that people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or more, aged 45 or more, those with prediabetes, and women who had gestational diabetes check for diabetes through tests.
Understanding the Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
When the pancreas produces very little to no insulin, it results in Type 1 Diabetes. In such a case, the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Usually, children, adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with this type. However, it might occur at any age. In extreme cases, doctors recommend that individuals must take synthetic (human) insulin daily to ensure good health.
Type 2 Diabetes
Sometimes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or the body doesn’t use it well. As a result, it can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Genetic factors, obesity or lack of exercise can lead to this type of diabetes. It is a more common form of diabetes, usually affecting the elderly. However, it can occur in children also.
It occurs in pregnant women and generally goes away after the baby is born. The primary cause is that women’s bodies cannot make the required amount of insulin during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese are the risk factors for this disease. Women who develop gestational diabetes also have higher chances of getting the disease later on in life.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms differ depending on the glucose level in the blood. Some individuals with prediabetes may not experience symptoms.
- Increased need to urinate
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Other infections like gum or skin infections
Risk factors for Diabetes
For type 1 diabetes, the risk factors include
- Injury to the pancreas
- Genetic factors
For type 2 diabetes, the risk factors include
- Family history of diabetes
- Being a smoker
- Being above age 45
- Being overweight or having high blood pressure
- Having high cholesterol
- Having a history of heart disease
These factors increase the chances of a person getting diabetes. Therefore, these factors must be controlled or prevented.
Glucose Levels, Diabetes and Depression
Depression might be more commonly present among people with constantly high glucose levels and people with diabetes. It is difficult to prove that diabetes causes depression, but this connection is still worth exploring. Diabetes and depression are major health problems that affect several adults.
One study found that in people with type 1 diabetes, the rate of depression is three times higher than in people without diabetes. However, in people with type 2 diabetes, the rate of depression is two times higher. One reason could be that type 1 diabetes is more severe and requires taking synthetic insulin every day.
A study found that depression in diabetic people prevents them from taking their medications regularly (non-compliance with drugs). Studies also indicate that the quality of life in people with diabetes and depression may be low. In another study, death rates were also higher in people with depression and diabetes. Researchers have also found that having depression increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 60%.
When you combine and assess all these factors, you will understand that they lead to a poor prognosis. Prognosis refers to how a disease/disorder will progress in the future. It can be a good or guarded/poor prognosis.
Depression and Diabetes May Occur Together: Here’s Why
Although researchers have not conclusively explained any relationship between the two, some possible explanations suggest that diabetes and depression can be associated.
- Environmental factors: While lifestyle choices like not being active play a prominent role other factors such as medical conditions, difficult financial situations, low educational level, income and occupational status could also contribute to the diseases.
- Stress: One of the leading causes of both is stress. Stress activates various systems in the body, including the fight or flight system. If there is high stress, these brain and body systems will always work negatively affecting the body.
- Changes in the brain: A study found that having diabetes produces negative changes in the brain (cerebral cortex) and affects blood flow. It can result in depression.
- Medications for depression: Some animal studies have found that prescriptions for depression may contribute to developing diabetes later in life. However, the results are not conclusive.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Depression
There are a few things that you can do to reduce the symptoms. Along with therapy or medications, these changes will also help.
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Having routine sleep and wake-up time
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Trying to do something new
Glucose Levels, Diabetes and Anxiety
Researchers found an increased level of anxiety in individuals with diabetes. In generalised anxiety disorder, the person feels anxious constantly and across different situations. According to one study, this disorder was present in 14% of individuals with diabetes.
A study found that individuals with diabetes have a 20% higher prevalence of anxiety than others without diabetes. Individuals aged 18-29 had a higher prevalence.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes participated in a study. One-third of them preferred using a psychological counselling service. Men reported more moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Women reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms. The reasons for this connection are similar to why depression and diabetes occur together. One primary reason is that anxiety activates several body systems. These symptoms also persist if a person is anxious for too long, which decreases the efficiency of these systems.
Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia
The fasting blood sugar in some people is below the normal range of 70-100 mg/dL. If the condition persists, it leads to hypoglycemia. Since our bodies require glucose to function, you should seek immediate attention.
The following are the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
- Becoming very pale
- Shaking or sweating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling anxious and not being able to concentrate
More severe symptoms include seizures, confusion, blurred vision, slurred speech, and inability to coordinate movements.
If the person has a low blood sugar level, they should eat specific foods. They should consult a healthcare expert for medication when the condition becomes severe. Regarding nutrition, people with low glucose levels should have foods or drinks with high natural sugar levels like fruit juices, honey, chocolates, or candy. After this, one must have a meal or snacks that might help to maintain the blood glucose level.
Hypoglycemia and Depression/Anxiety
Low blood glucose levels lead to the production of adrenaline, which is the fight-or-flight hormone. If adrenaline stays for a long time, it leads to stress. In case the blood sugar level frequently becomes low (less glucose, more adrenaline), the stress can lead to depression or anxiety. If a person with unhealthy glucose levels doesn’t monitor their food and medicine properly, it can lead to hypoglycemia.
There is a well-researched connection between diabetes and depression or anxiety. A study found associations between severe hypoglycemia and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, these depressive symptoms lasted even when people resolved hypoglycemia. However, this animal study is not currently applicable to humans. But researchers agree that hypoglycemia can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. One possible reason is that a person with a low blood sugar level might constantly worry about their condition, which can add to the stress.
Monitoring Glucose Levels
The conventional way of monitoring glucose levels was explicitly meant for people with prediabetes or diabetes. However, with innovation in the healthcare space, experts focus on preventive measures. Moreover, due to a strong association between glucose levels and various metabolic parameters, every individual should track their glucose levels.
Since everything you eat or drink impacts your blood glucose levels, innovative measures like continuous glucose monitoring can help you assess the effect of foods on your glucose levels. It can help you prevent obesity, diabetes and other metabolic health issues. It is also essential to know the range of normal blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it will vary before and after eating, during pregnancy, if the person has other diseases or diabetes and according to age. So, glucose monitoring is not only a tool to regulate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Instead, it can be an excellent approach to keeping yourself healthy.
Low or high blood glucose levels can occur with depression and/or anxiety. Diabetes caused by high blood glucose levels is a worldwide issue affecting millions. Since depression or anxiety may lead to diabetes or vice versa, diabetic clinics also focus on this. All these conditions can be quite severe and require medical attention. In addition, individuals can check and regulate their blood glucose levels by following a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.