by Dr. Michael Boss, DC
The single most common complaint I get from new patients is lack of energy. The stories are similar: “I can’t get up in the morning; I’m a slow starter; after lunch I have fatigue and crash; I’m dead tired when I get home from work.” Meanwhile, overcoming fatigue has become big business. Americans spent more than $740 million on “energy” drinks last year, which doesn’t include products offering “instant energy.” What’s going on here?
Blood Sugar Metabolism
Our bodies produce energy by metabolizing glucose (blood sugar) from the foods we eat. When glucose is not converted into energy properly, no energy is produced. The result: low energy and fatigue.
One common misconception I often hear is that a person must be diabetic to have a blood sugar issue. That’s not true, but it doesn’t change the fact that glucose metabolism dysfunction is rampant in this country, and it’s the root cause of a long list of symptoms of poor health. In order to properly metabolize glucose into energy, various reactions have to take place within our bloodstream and our cells, where energy is made and stored. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, and the best sources are vegetables and fruits; the worst involve processed sugars, grains and manipulated food products.
To turn glucose into glycogen (our bodies preferred form of stored energy), we require a source of adequate glucose and other necessary nutrients (vitamins, minerals, co-factors, etc.), in addition to the hormone insulin and proper cellular communication and function. When we eat, glucose levels rise in our blood signaling the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin serves to transport glucose to muscle and liver cells, where receptors act like keyholes to unlock the door into the cell. The key that unlocks the door is insulin. Once inside the cell, glucose is escorted into the mitochondria where energy fuels cellular function and is stored for later use.
It is a complex and delicate system. If the proper tools are not provided – if the “transportation” system doesn’t function or the “keys” into the cells don’t work properly, for example – the system can begin to break down. Eating the “Standard American Diet” is a very good way to destroy normal glucose metabolism. Simply drinking a soda, regular or diet, each day is a ticket to glucose metabolism dysfunction.
Any dysfunction in the energy production system will result initially in low energy. The person will normally begin to have spikes in glucose levels followed by sharp drops and symptoms of irritability, headache, dizziness and generally not feeling well, especially if he or she skips meals or goes too long without eating (even just a few hours). This is called hypoglycemia. Cravings for certain foods normally begin at this point.
The process is followed by a condition called insulin resistance. This happens when high levels of insulin are released and the cell receptors to insulin become resistant, meaning they do not react to insulin and will not allow the “unlocking” of the cell for glucose to get inside. If glucose cannot get into the cell, energy can’t be made, and the result is further fatigue. These changes can be drastic or very subtle, depending on the degree of dysfunction. Another hallmark of this phase is the storage of fat, usually on the belly region, and/or an increase in blood lipids (cholesterol, LDLs and triglycerides).
Correcting the Problem
Left uncorrected, the process worsens and continues until the person is pre-diabetic and then eventually Type 2 diabetic. Currently more than 35 percent of Americans are pre-diabetic or full-blown Type 2.
In my practice, about 8 out of 10 new patients have some form of glucose metabolism dysfunction that if left unchecked will eventually turn into Type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, the pattern can be corrected. The key is proper evaluation, followed by the right game plan to reverse the physiological issues, and it isn’t difficult. I have had the pleasure watching 20+ year diabetics become non-diabetic again. The right eating plan, proper exercise and rest, and natural nutriceuticals that produce no side effects are utilized to re-establish and re-train the system to take high-nutrient foods and turn them into energy the right way. The end result is energy to get you through your day and a restful night sleep, followed by weight loss and improvement of various health issues that accompany glucose problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low hormones, inflammation, neuropathies and more.
The average diabetic in America is taught how to eat to stay diabetic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you or someone you love suffers from low energy, I recommend a functional evaluation of blood sugar metabolism, which will hopefully lead to strategic measures to correct the issue as soon as possible.
Dr. Michael Boss has been a practicing chiropractor and wellness practitioner for more than 20 years. He is creator of Elevate Life, and he provides treatment programs that focus on functional healthcare, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, hormone function and balance, chronic diseases, nutriceuticals and more. He also co-hosts the weekly ELEVATE LIFE Wellness Hour on 550 KTSA. Call 210-264-2570 for an individual consultation, or visit www.elevatelifewellness.com to learn more.