If you're someone who has issues with energy levels, tends to get irritable or spacey, and struggles with cravings or hunger issues, you may be suffering from unsteady blood sugar levels. Aside from irregular eating habits — or the potentially risk of diabetes — there are a number of surprising reasons your blood sugar levels may be off. Your diet is important when it comes to your blood sugar levels, but many other unsuspecting habits can also play a role in blood sugar regulation as well.
"Steady blood sugar levels help you feel your best," Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD tells Bustle. "A drop or spike in blood sugar can negatively affect how you feel throughout the day and generally lead to a crash in energy levels. Most people who don’t have diabetes don’t see all that much fluctuation in blood sugar levels because the body does a good job of regulating it. Still, certain things can make the blood sugar fluctuate."
If you do feel like your blood sugar levels are unsteady, it can often be hard to tell what the culprit is, especially since so many factors can come into play. Here are seven surprising reasons your blood sugar may be out of whack, according to experts.
As if stress wasn't bad enough, worrying can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. "Just like physical stress, emotional stress can trigger stress hormones that can elevate blood sugar," Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE tells Bustle. When stress hormones are released, it's more difficult for glucose levels to stay down, so managing your stress can help keep your blood sugar levels be more steady.
When consuming alcohol in excess, you may find that your blood sugar levels becomes affected. "Excessive amounts of alcohol can be related to low blood sugar because it can reduce the effectiveness of insulin," Haley Hughes MS, RD, CDE tells Bustle. "It’s not uncommon for people with alcoholic liver disease to have diabetes or glucose intolerance."
If you're not getting enough water, your blood sugar levels can suffer. According to Everyday Health, falling short on fluids can lead to hyperglycemia. To make matters worse, when your blood sugar levels rise, you end up urinating more, which can result in even more dehydration.
4Lack Of Sleep
How much sleep you're getting can also play a role in your blood sugar levels. Lack of sleep is a form of stress on the body, which can elevate blood sugar levels, according to Everyday Health. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing diabetes and imperil glucose control and insulin sensitivity, according to research published in the journal Diabetes Therapy.
For some people, drinking caffeine poses no problem when it comes to blood sugar levels. But for those at risk for diabetes or who suffer from blood sugar problems, even just two cups of coffee can cause blood sugar swings, according to Mayo Clinic. The effect varies from person to person, but caffeine can have an impact on insulin levels, which could lead to blood sugar fluctuations. If you are wondering whether you are at risk for diabetes, speak with your doctor, and they will help you find out which food and drinks are safe in your diet.
6Lacking Grains In Your Diet
"Fiber in whole grains helps regulate blood sugar because it takes longer to digest than refined grain," says Dr. Rizzo. "The term 'whole grain' means the entire grain molecule is intact and takes longer to digest, which will lead to a steady release of insulin and a gradual increase in blood sugar levels."
Skipping meals can cause all sorts of problems with your blood sugar levels. "It’s no surprise that skipping meals will make your blood sugar drop," says Dr. Rizzo. "But skipping one meal will also make your blood sugar spike after the next meal you eat. It’s best to eat frequently throughout the day to maintain a normal blood sugar level."
If you suspect your blood sugar levels are off, it's best to see a doctor, who can help you get to the root of the problem.