Type one diabetes can be a b*tch sometimes. But there is a great part about having T1D. It can shed a lot of insight as to what’s going on underneath the surface.
Diabetes or not, hormones cause blood sugar to rise and fall. Hormones are sent out for lots of reasons. Some help fight infections, others trigger ovulation, and some help with exercise. A person without diabetes releases insulin so that there are no spikes. Or at least very minimal spikes. However, a person with diabetes gets to see those BG rises (or lack of). This can be a big indicator that something is wrong.
Having that small bit of insight is HUGE!
Here are some examples of what your hormones (or lack of) could be telling you…
When It’s Healthy to Show a Spike or Insulin Resistance
- After Ovulation: The hormone that triggers ovulation also causes insulin resistance. If you are not insulin resistant in the second half of your monthly cycle then it could mean that something is off fertility wise for you. See my post about blood sugar and ovulation to learn more about this.
- During Strength Training: Your body produces adrenalin and glucagon while strength training. Adrenalin and glucagon tell your liver to release glycogen stores so you can fuel your workout. While a non-diabetic body will release insulin if too much sugar is released, ours does not. Seeing a rise in blood sugar during strength training is healthy & normal.
- First Thing in the Morning: aka the dawn phenomenon. The hormones that trigger you to wake up (cortisol, catecholamines, and growth hormone) also trigger your liver to release glycogen. In a person without diabetes, the body also release insulin at this time. For people with diabetes, we have to do that adjustment manually. This adjustment is easy to automate if you’re on a pump. It is harder for those on MDI, but still possible. Experiencing dawn phenomenon is a sign of healthy hormones.
When Insulin Resistance Could Mean Something Is Wrong
- Infection & Illness: To help healing, the body releases anabolic hormones during times of infection/illness. These anabolic hormones include human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (which may be impaired in people with T1D ), testosterone, and insulin. While this is a healthy response, insulin resistance might help tell you if that cut you got is turning into an infection. Or if those sniffles you have are actually a bigger cold that’s brewing.
- Metabolism Damaging Diets (like keto): I go more in depth in my post Quitting Keto, but here is a quick summary. Ketosis is a state that your body goes into during times of famine. This is an incredibly stressful state for the body. This state will initially make you feel more alert and get rid of your brain fog because it’s causing your body to pump out adrenalin as a stress response. This state also often includes rapid fat loss because you’re using your own fat as fuel. But because rapid fat loss sends the signal to your body that food is scarce. Overtime it slows down your metabolism & thyroid, which leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance seems to be a common occurrence for those on keto and the main reason why many, including myself, ultimately quit.
- Food Sensitivities: Inflammation and insulin resistance go hand in hand. If you are eating a food that you have a sensitivity to it will cause inflammation, which results in insulin resistance. This is due to the same hormones the body releases when it’s healing an infection/illness. This resistance can last a couple months, even after you cut out that food. The most common triggering foods are:
- foods sprayed with round up (which is most GMO foods, so look for “non-GMO”).
Make Use of Your Super Power
Diabetes doesn’t have to be doom & gloom. It can be a super power. An x-ray vision into your endocrine/hormone system kind of super power. The great part about T1D is that it gives you extra tools that the average Joan doesn’t have. So use them!
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going…
Do you look at insulin resistance as a marker to check if your hormones are in-check?
Do you know you’ve ovulated by when your sugar goes up?
Are there other instances that cause you to get resistance?
Let me know in the comments!