Dr. Mark Hyman, will you be my boyfriend? (My husband says it's okay!)
Because you're just about the cutest, smartest man I've had the chance to talk sugar with. And not just sugar -- sugar cravings. Blood sugar. Cortisol. Some of my very favorite things to nerd out over.
Dr. Hyman knows his stuff, too. He's the author of The Blood Sugar Solution and recently-released The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. We were just chatting about the connection between cortisol, blood sugar and the epidemic of high blood sugar and obesity facing our culture, and let me tell you- - this is a biggie.
"I want to empower [readers] with the tools they need to fix this problem which is one of the single biggest threats facing us not just personally in our health, but globally as an economy." -- Dr. Mark Hyman
Sugar cravings might be one of the most insidious downward spirals in health management. If you eat something high in refined sugar, your blood glucose level skyrockets... and then crashes. Your brain interprets that crash as the need for more of that fast-acting sugar (hello, 3 p.m. chocolate craving). So you eat something sugary to silence the craving and you get another spike. Then a dip. Then a spike. Then a dip... until your poor cells become officially numb to insulin, and now you're facing chronically-spiking blood sugar, a fat storage problem (mostly layered at the waist), and a very real addiction to sugar.
"So call me your sugar
You love you some"
-- Flo Rida, "Sugar"
Add to this the fact that when blood sugar spikes and then drops (Oh no! We're out of food!), cortisol goes up. And when cortisol goes up... so does blood sugar.
Choose: Virtuous or Vicious?
Your stress response is tightly connected to your sugar response, and you choose with your fork either a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle.
This isn't just an epidemic; it's an undiagnosed epidemic.
Dr. Hyman: "Ninety percent of people have this are not diagnosed and it affects one out of two people."
Heal Your Injury
This "lifestyle injury" is also one that most doctors aren't trained to treat; Dr. Hyman and I both know that subtle hormonal shifts are not high on the list of key subjects in med school. But don't worry: We've got a sweet solution for you.
"What you find at the end of your fork is more powerful than anything you'll find at the bottom of a pill bottle." This is possibly one of the best things Dr. Hyman has ever said. And he is so right. Getting to the root of the cortisol-sugar craving and breaking the vicious cycle starts with your food plan.
Food is not calories only. We think it's calories in, calories out. But research is showing us that, no, food is information. It actually sends messages to your body to change your hormones, to change your inflammatory markers, to change your genes even literally every bite. You are actually controlling your hormones with every single bite of food that you eat.
"Oooh, I want you to
Take over control"
-- Afrojack, "Take Over Control"
Give Me 48 Hours
Here's the super cool part (and Dr. Barry Sears agrees): You can reverse insulin resistance in 48 hours with that fork of yours.
Here are oh-so-simple ways to stop the downward spiral and go virtuous:
- Eat real, whole foods that your great-grandparents would recognize.
- Eat regularly -- every four to six hours -- to balance your blood sugar and to maintain adrenal rhythm.
- Master your sleep cycle, and make sure bedtime is before midnight.
- Get a little sunlight each morning, which affects your hypothalamus, and creates circadian congruence and a virtuous cycle.
- Craft your top-three list of favorite ways to hit the "pause" button, through meditation, yoga, deep breathing, orgasm, massage, or acupuncture.
- Get your fiber on -- it stabilizes blood sugar. You need up to 45-50 grams per day.
- Reclaim your kitchen, and share your meals with friends and family.
Sara Gottfried, M.D., is a practicing integrative physician and author of The Hormone Cure (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, 2013). You can follow Dr. Sara on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook, watch her videos on Youtube, and subscribe to her newsletter.
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