Stress tends to cause a craving for sugar, which unfortunately can in turn further increase stress.
The reason for this is that sugar consumption can upset the balance of blood sugar - when it rise we
may experience a surge of energy but it then drops and we may feel weak, anxious or irritable,
and crave something sweet to eat again. The liver should regulate the amount of sugar going into
the bloodstream but if it is not working efficiently it will fail to do so, and there will be peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels.
Alcohol can upset the liver and cause it to function sluggishly; a high protein diet, the use of drugs and pollutants in food all
further limit its efficiency.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) imposes stress on the body because if the blood sugar drops too low
the nervous system does not work properly. Low blood sugar is interrupted by the body as a danger signal and
the adrenal glands respond to this by secreting adrenaline, putting into action the “fight of flight” mechanism.
This has the effect of mobilizing glucose stores from the liver to raise the blood sugar, but it also causes fear,
palpitations, shakiness, cold and clammy hands, and breathlessness - which are often interpreted as misplaced anxiety.
These mood swings, indicating changes in blood sugar levels, seem to aggravate any existing stress and decrease our
debility to cope with it. The make extra demands on the adrenal glands, increase the amount of adrenaline in
the system and serve to deplete our vital energy. They could also contribute to stress-related illness.
When trying to understand why some people are more prone to hypoglycemia than others,
the role of the pancreas must also be considered. The pancreas secretes insulin which causes sugar in
the blood to enter the body’s cells, and also glucagons which helps to regulate the release of stored sugar from
the liver into the bloodstream.
Stress may be a major factor in the regulation of both insulin and glucagons secretion from
the pancreas, and resultant imbalances of blood sugar. However, regular consumption of refined sugar may also cause
the pancreas to function erratically, causing poor sugar control, which becomes even worse under stress.
In this way a vicious circle is created, and under even minimal stress we may fly off the handle for no apparent reason,
be overly sensitive, or overreact to stress.