Granted I have yet to learn what it feels like to be in menopause and the likes, I surely know how to ride the insulin roller-coaster from past pregnancies, 12 months of nursing and frankly, being a fertile woman. It’s not an easy road, and typically, with a normalizing cycle, my first sign I need to adjust my insulin based on hormone influxes (ovulating/menstruating) is a high blood sugar reading without good reason. Also, let’s be honest, there are a few cravings too.
So is it fair to say it’s harder to be a female than a male in controlling blood sugars because our monthly hormonal, and eventually menopause changes? I don’t know, as I only know what it’s like to be in these shoes, but I fathom we all have our own challenges. Yet, what can a solution be or a plan for keeping and having the best blood sugars possible? Let’s see:
- Basal testing. Have you heard of this, or tried it? To have the best A1C or best blood sugars, we want to ensure we are on the right dose of insulin, let it be multiple daily injections or an insulin pump.
- Furthermore, it can also be helpful to have a second basal rate for the week before a female’s (on insulin) period. The extent of time to use a second basal will take some individual experimenting. Some women will use a higher basal the week before and during a period, where others need less insulin as blood sugars plummet upon a period. Take notes each month, even if you just insert a few sentences in your calendar. We all say we will remember next month, but trust me, these notes will be handy. A quick example of how I use 2 basals: my normal, non-period basal is just shy of 10 units, and then my PMS basal is 11.5 units of Humalog. As you can see, I just need a pinch more of insulin, but it’s so helpful.
- Know that with every month, the fluctuations and impact a period has on someone not only varies with the person but can vary from month to month.
- Enhance insulin sensitivity. How?
- First look at lifestyle. Are you moving throughout the day (get your lymph system flowing), are you active enough, drinking enough water, sleeping 7-8 hours (at least), managing stress, engaging in positive things, socializing, etc?
- We want to move every 30 minutes. This can be as basic as standing up to fill up a water bottle or using the restroom. A fast-paced walk is even better. As soon as we start to sit, enzymes that help break down fat decrease by 90%, and if we were to sit for nearly 24 hours, insulin sensitivity drops 24%.
- Drink half of your weight in ounces, and keep juices, coffees, sodas, caffeine to a minimum. If you want to have a cup of Joe, match that amount in water, and do not count this fluid intake towards the half of your weight/ounce goal. Being and staying hydrated is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to be your healthiest. Where is your water bottle?
- Secondly, remove inflammatory foods from your diet. It’s becoming more common sense that processed foods and fried foods don’t optimize our health, but also assess how gluten, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and eggs make you feel. Perhaps pull one, or all, of these out of your diet for 1-3 months to truly test. In the process flood your body with nutrient-dense foods. See below with more tips on diet.
- How rich is your diet in magnesium? If like most Americans, it’s scarce, and therefore I have a standing recommendation for most people with diabetes to take supplements, including magnesium.
- Decrease PMS and menopause symptoms. PMS and menopause symptoms are not normal. Heavy cycles, extreme hot flashes, mood swings, weight fluctuations can be minimized by resolving the imbalance of hormones, blood sugar variability, resolving a nutrient deficiency and or better handling stress. Some basic thought starters to get going on this:
- Eat more real food (produce, high quality fish and animal protein, good fats, lentils, beans), than processed foods, man-made oils and grains. In all, strive for > 6 cups of vegetables a day, chew your food, enjoy the gift of having readily available food and have some delicious chocolate. Have each meal highlight vegetables as the main dish, fill up on sides with satiating and delicious protein and fat. Also, don’t shun carbohydrates, just experiement with what limit works for your energy levels, satiety and blood sugar control. Our thyroid thrives on carbs, and the best ones include starchy vegetables, fruits, and legumes (if tolerated).
- Nurture your liver. Yup the liver, our fat-burning machine and hormone metabolizer. It’s hard to say which organ is the most important in our body, as one needs to lean on the other, but the liver is pretty high on the list. Help the liver out, by avoiding overeating, choosing high fiber foods, bypassing canola oil, sunflower/safflower oils, margarine, and fried foods. Eat colorful meals and snacks and go easy on alcohol. I love sipping on dandelion root tea too.
- Optimize gut health. Follow the advice on eating low inflammatory food, but also foods that feed your gut. This certainly includes fiber-rich vegetables and certainly probiotic and prebiotic foods (think garlic, artichokes, onions). If consuming foods rich in probiotics isn’t realistic, consider a supplement.
While there are loads more I can list, these are the top things to consider when you are feeling moody from hormones, and maybe even moodier with blood sugars that don’t line up.
Please share your thoughts on these recommendations, and let us know what works for you.
Cheers to you and good health,