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3 Unexpected Triggers for Your Body’s Blood Sugar to Rise

The body regulates blood sugar levels day in and day out.,  For most healthy people with blood sugar levels already in a normal range, this occurs without much thought or awareness of what is happening internally. But some things we encounter in everyday life can cause blood sugar levels to rise — or decrease the body’s sensitivity to blood sugar. This means that consumption of a carbohydrate-containing food may result in a sharper increase in blood sugar levels than it would under normal conditions. Knowing what those triggers are, and how to navigate them, can help keep blood sugar levels steady^ .


Occasional Stress

Several parts of the body coordinate the response to stress — primarily through hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is relevant in both short-term and long-term stress, so it’s important to consider the role of both types of stress in your life. Stress hormones, including cortisol, can directly raise blood sugar levels and disrupt normal blood sugar metabolism.1-3 Stress can also result in poor sleep, a weakened immune system, and altered secretion of hunger hormones — all of which can cause blood sugar levels to rise.4-6

Stress can throw us off our healthy patterns and habits which include meal preparation and exercise routines.1 Extra take-out meals and missed gym sessions can have a big effect on the body’s normal metabolism, and physical stress can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Sunburn, dehydration, and extremely hot weather can also activate the body’s stress response and lead to higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.All of these direct and indirect effects of stress on our systems and habits can result in significant trouble for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.


Getting struck by the flu or other sickness can mess with normally healthy blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia can occur during an illness, and can also be influenced by the sugar found in the cough drops and syrups we reach for when we feel sick.Over the course of a day, especially during a particularly rough cold, this can add up to a lot of sugar intake just through medicine alone!

The use of certain medications can also influence blood sugar metabolism. For example, antibiotics can alter the gut microbiome composition, which can contribute to insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels.8 Other medications that can raise blood sugar levels include steroids, birth control pills, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and diuretics.9-13


While long-term consumption of black coffee may actually benefit healthy blood sugar levels, in the short-term, it can disrupt the metabolism of blood sugar.14-15 There is an even greater increase in blood sugar levels if you add any sauces, syrups, or sweeteners to your coffee.15 These are very high in sugar and quickly broken down and absorbed by the body, resulting in a sudden rise in blood sugar levels after just a few sips!


Lifestyle Can Impact Blood Sugar Levels, Too

While there are some unexpected triggers that affect blood sugar levels, there are also modifiable lifestyle choices that can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Exercise can lower blood sugar

Exercise can have a big impact on blood sugar levels^ in healthy individuals because it significantly increases the rate of sugar uptake into cells,16-18 which can immediately lower blood sugar levels. This is because exercise can cause muscles to import up to 20 times the amount they normally consume during rest in order to have fuel for activity.16,18 


Nutrition can impact healthy blood sugar levels

It can be difficult to know or predict how certain foods, drinks, or emotions will affect blood sugar levels in healthy individuals. Working to identify and plan for triggers that influence your blood sugar balance can help normalize levels in the short-term and maximize health in the long-term in healthy individuals.

Not every person’s body will respond to a meal in the exact same way, but there are some basic rules that are predictable in healthy individuals. In general, a high carbohydrate meal or food, especially if it's highly processed, will cause blood sugar levels to spike. Foods high in protein and fats and low in carbohydrates, on the other hand, will generally not cause a large spike in levels as they contain few carbohydrates. Protein and fats can influence blood sugar levels, but their impact is minor compared to carbohydrates.

For healthy people, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level does not have to be complicated. Proper nutrition, including supplementation, can help maintain blood sugar levels. Supplements that support healthy blood glucose levels by providing a slower and more sustained release of glucose to help minimize acute blood sugar spikes and steady post-meal glucose levels^* are something you can ask your health care professional about today.


Occasional Stress, sickness, and coffee may cause an unexpected rise in blood sugar levels, so listen to your body and adjust in areas where you can to support blood sugar levels already in a healthy range. Talk to your health care professional today to get recommendations specific to your health needs. If you don’t have a health care professional to talk to, reach out to a health care professional in our network of practitioners to get started today.


^ in healthy individuals with blood sugar levels already in a normal range


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