Pre-Diabetes and Stress

Pre diabetes and stress

How Insulin Resistance is Triggered by Stress

By Kirkland Shave, Program Director 

Do you need another compelling reason to reduce stress in your life?

Although a healthy diet and exercise are crucial to regulating blood sugar and preventing pre-diabetes, other factors are also proven to be at cause for insulin resistance.

A February 2010 review from the European Depression in Diabetes Research Consortium states, “Results of longitudinal studies suggest that depression, general emotional stress and anxiety, sleeping problems, anger and hostility are associated with an increased risk for the development of Type 2 Diabetes.”

When under stress (physical, mental or emotional), blood sugar rises in order to supply energy for fight or flight. Stress increases the body’s demand for energy, whether it is an acute life and death situation, or coping with chronic mental or emotional difficulties. In people with diabetes, the flight or fight response does not work as well. The blood sugar regulating hormone insulin, is not always able to transfer the extra energy (glucose or fat) to the muscle cells for two reasons.

Cells may become resistant to insulin if they don’t need the extra energy (glucose) that floods our blood stream in response to the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. And, as insulin resistance builds, the pancreas can become fatigued as it tries to produce adequate amounts of insulin to nourish the cells. These factors cause people with insulin resistance to have constantly elevated blood sugar – hyperglycemia – which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Coping with chronic stressors often leads to a variety of feelings of dissatisfaction. Our natural tendency will be to make choices that elicit our “feel good hormones” to avoid the weight of these feelings. Unfortunately, we are genetically wired to crave certain foods to elicit the brain soothing hormones serotonin and dopamine. Consuming any of the “three main cravings” of salt, fat and carbs makes us feel better in the moment, but doesn’t support the lowering of blood sugar.

Stress Management is vital to turn around this hormonal domino effect that can lead to elevated blood sugar, insulin resistance, and ultimately Type 2 Diabetes.