how are these even related to each other? I'm going to explain it in a bit, but first, I want to know if you experience any of these common blood sugar imbalance symptoms as well:
nausea or dizziness between meals and/or when you wake up in the mornings?
feeling faint or light headed between meals
needing to always have snacks available between meals, otherwise you feel irritable, moody, or "hangry"!
you have difficulty falling asleep, and you often wake up in the middle of the night or early mornings and can't fall back to sleep.
*if you're of menstruating age: your headaches or migraines happen right before your period, or always during.
your menstrual cycles are shorter than 28 days typically
You don't need to report your answers to these, but it's a good place for you to start paying attention to the root of your headaches and migraines, and if they might be connected to blood sugar imbalance. But if you experience frequent migraines, plus you experience 3 or more of the above symptoms, then this post is definitely for you!
Okay, first thing's first: what is blood sugar?
If you're new around here, blood sugar balance is my expertise in my practice(and somewhat of an *obsession* when I'm talking to anyone who will listen!). Blood sugar balance is a hormone-driven process and also plays a big role in the balancing of menstrual cycles and those hormones as well too. So if you think your headaches and migraines are potentially caused by an imbalance in hormones, you're right! And blood sugar levels are a major factor in hormonal balance too!
Blood sugar is literally what it sounds like: it"s the sugar in your bloodstream. This sugar in your bloodstream is the normal process of what happens when we eat food. Food (mostly) breaks down into sugar, or glucose and this is to give our bodies energy from our food. Unfortunately, this process doesn't always happen in the normal way it's supposed to.
When we eat food, most of it breaks down into sugar(glucose). It goes into our blood stream, and then from there it pairs with insulin to enter our cells. We want the sugar to enter our cells because that's where we get energy from.
But here's the thing: not all foods breakdown into sugar, and not all sugars are created equal. Carbohydrates are the foods that breakdown into sugar: fruits, vegetables, breads, pastas, desserts, etc. Not all of these foods breakdown into the same amount of glucose, and not all of these breakdown as quickly. For example, a bagel is predominantly sugar, and it breaks down quickly, whereas a piece of fruit, like an apple, will also breakdown into sugar, but it will enter our blood stream a lot slower because of the fibre.
These Two Graphs Represent Stable Blood Sugar Levels, and Blood Sugar with Huge Spikes and Crashes:
This is the Connection Between Blood Sugar and Headaches and Migraines:
Take a look at these 2 graphs. These are a visual representation of our energy levels as compared to our blood sugar levels. Now, look at the second one and imagine a time when you were experiencing this type of rise and crash in blood sugar levels(maybe it was the holidays, or even last weekend, but we've all been there!). Do you remember how you felt when you got to the "crash" part? Probably exhausted, maybe needed a nap or a second coffee, irritable, moody, low patience, an anxious pit in your tummy, and sometimes even a headache or a migraine. The reality is, this type of up and down in blood sugar is likely happening multiple times a day for most of us(don't worry, I'm going to teach you how to start paying attention), and when we're not giving our bodies the proper nutrients to balance this system out, it's happening more often than you think, not just during times where you indulge on sweet treats.
So if everything pretty much breaks down into sugar, how do we keep blood sugar levels stable, like what we see in the first graph?
Here's Something We Don't Remember From School...
Either because it was never taught to us, or it wasn't emphasized as something important that we should all know: some foods do not breakdown into sugar, and those food categories are proteins and fats. A protein(such as a piece of chicken), does not break down into sugar(note: some plant-based proteins are also carbohydrates, so a portion of them does still breakdown into sugar. This is foods like chickpeas or beans. Whereas animal proteins(chicken, beef, fish) do not breakdown into sugar at all). Fats, such as olive oil or avocados, also don't breakdown into sugar. Why is this all important, and why should we have definitely been taught this stuff in school?
Because this is the basis of how our blood sugar levels become balanced. When we eat the right proportion of proteins, healthy fats and slow-breakdown carbohydrate foods, our blood sugar levels start to look like the first graph above. And if you recall, that graph is a representation of our energy levels, so eating in this way can also support stable energy too(and who doesn't need more of that these days, right?).
So What Does This Have to do With My Headaches and Migraines Again?
Unfortunately, most of us are not getting the right nutrients our bodies need to maintain proper blood sugar balance throughout the day. And if we are eating "healthy" we're still probably not getting the right proportion of nutrients. Therefore, for most of us, our blood sugar levels are liking spiking up, and then crashing down several times a day. And if that's happening, then it usually comes with a whole bunch of symptoms(that you now know how to pay attention to thanks to this post): low energy/crashes in energy, feeling tired all the time, moodiness, symptoms of anxiety, sugar cravings, and migraines.
Next time you have a migraine(even if it happens right before your menstrual phase or during), ask yourself how you think your blood sugar levels are doing based on your food intake over the last 24 hours.
How Do I Learn How To Eat To Stabilize My Blood Sugar Levels?
Luckily, I got you covered! I've created my Blood Sugar Guide to help teach you the science of how blood sugar works(I really think we should have learned this stuff in school!), plus the breakdown of the main nutrients you need in order to keep your levels balanced for the long term. I've also included 10 super simple recipes for your whole family to enjoy! Click here to get your copy now: