Blood Sugar and the Gut

High blood sugar adversely affects the gut and hinders digestion. Consume foods that help strengthen the microbiome and repair gut lining. Beet kvas is a great example!

Insulin and Glucose

By Dr. Christina Compton

Sowello  Health™ 



Blood sugar conditions, including diabetes, are responsible for over 3 million deaths per year, and the number is expected to increase. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates between 20-33% of all Americans will develop diabetes by 2050. These numbers don’t include the numerous Americans who are not diabetic but have large swings in their blood sugar without knowing.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is also called “metabolic syndrome.” There are five health symptoms of insulin resistance: 

  1. High glucose
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Low LDL (low-density lipoproteins, “bad” cholesterol)
  4. High triglycerides
  5. High waist circumference 

It has been reported that approximately 88% of Americans have at least one aspect of this syndrome; therefore, only about 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. Other countries, such as Middle Eastern countries, have even higher rates of unhealthy metabolic syndrome. 

What is Glucose Intolerance? 

This is an umbrella term for a group of conditions which includes: 

  1. Type 1 diabetes: about 5% - 10% of diabetes cases, normally children and adolescents. 
  1. Type 2 diabetes: 90% - 95% of diabetic cases, which is reaching epidemic levels.  
  1. Gestational diabetes: 1% - 14%, depending on population. 
  1. Pre-diabetes: impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.

Long before people develop diabetes, they go through a phase where they have what doctors called "impaired glucose tolerance." This means that after they eat a meal containing carbohydrates, their blood sugar rockets up and may stay high for an hour or two before dropping back to a normal level.

When blood sugar moves swiftly up or down, most people will experience intense hunger. This relentless hunger can often be the first diabetic symptom they experience.

DIY blood sugar test

If you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes and would like to understand your blood sugar, here’s an inexpensive and easy way to start. Test yourself at home following this simple process: 

  1. Week One: For one week write down what you eat and drink. Don’t change what you eat. Test your blood sugar with a blood sugar meter upon waking (fasting), approximately one hour after each meal, and approximately two hours after each meal. Stay organized by writing all the information in a journal or on your computer or phone. 
  1. Week Two: Reduce carbohydrates. Look at what you ate during week one and identify the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include grains, cereal, rice, bread, potato, corn, beans (legumes), and fruit. Continue writing down what you eat and drink. Continue testing your blood sugar. 
  1. Week Three and Beyond: Start changing what you eat so your sugar levels stay in a healthy range. If you notice that a certain food spikes your sugar level, then remove it from your diet. Consider exercising more and watch what impact it has on your blood sugar. A low-carb nutritional plan helps to limit the amount of excess sugar (glucose) so it doesn’t get converted and stored as fat. 

 Important: If your blood sugar is over 200 mg/dL, please consult with a doctor. 

 Blood Sugar Chart

According to Joslin Diabetes Clinic of Harvard Medical School, these are the upper limits of “normal”: 

  • Fasting Blood Sugar (upon waking): Under 100 mg/dL 
  • One hour after meal: Under 140 mg/d 
  • Two hours after meal: Under 120 mg/dL

What is the relationship between blood sugar and the gut?

High blood sugar can cause chemical changes in the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve has an important job for many body functions. It carries chemical signals between the brain, digestive system, and organs. High blood sugar hinders the vagus nerve’s ability to send the messages that tell the stomach muscles to empty the stomach. You might then experience heartburn or abdominal pain. This, of course, may lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

Additionally, excessive glucose damages intestinal cells, and research indicates that genetic changes occur as well. The hyperglycemia impact on the microbiome within the gut may be restored by rebalancing glucose.

Key Points

  • A high sugar diet is not healthy. It’s the sugar, not the fat.
  • Blood sugar spikes, even without elevated average blood sugar, damages the gut.
  • Damages to the gut increase the release of toxic bacteria into the blood circulation, which can lead to hyperglycemia, diabetes, and obesity. Gut damage is also associated with cancer and accelerated aging.
  • Do home testing to see if you have high blood sugar swings. Once you understand yourself, then you can make smart choices to optimize your health.
  • Get basic blood tests.
    • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: recommended.
    • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test.
    • Cholesterol panel.  If your Triglyceride to HDL (good cholesterol) ratio is 1.5 or greater, you may be insulin resistant, even if you look lean. The closer to 1.0 the better. Remember skinny people are not necessarily healthier.
    • HbA1-c: important to understand the values. According to Labcorpa normal range is less than 5.7%.  Diabetes: A 6.5% reading supposedly correlates to an average blood glucose of 140 mg/dL. Some doctors don’t treat diabetes until the A1c is 7.0%, which supposedly correlates to an average blood sugar of 155 mg/dL.
  • Eat low carbohydrate foods.
  • Consume foods that help strengthen the microbiome and repair gut lining. Beet kvass is a great example!


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