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The Impact of Glucose on our Daily Lives: Immune System and Hormones

Florence Comite MD

February 4, 2022
Glucose's Impact Of Immune System and Hormones

How does high glucose cause infection?

High glucose levels are known to trigger immune and inflammatory responses which damages the pancreatic beta cells responsible for insulin production, and ultimately leads to insufficient insulin. The resulting hyperglycemia (elevated glucose) causes immune dysfunction and leads to a higher risk of infection in diabetics. Complications such as lower respiratory tract infections, pulmonary tuberculosis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin and soft tissue infections are common. One study has shown that high glucose can also interfere with the production and function of white blood cells which fights infections. People with pre-diabetes or diabetes are more likely to get infections that last longer. In fact, a known diabetic with COVID is four times more likely to end up on a respirator in the hospital. More worrisome, however, is that an individual is eight times more likely to be hospitalized on a respirator when unaware that pre-diabetes or diabetes is undiagnosed.

How do I predict and prevent this?

One simple thing you can do is to work with your natural body clock. Try not to eat within two hours prior to bedtime, and make sure your last snack/meal is mainly protein-based. Some carbs are okay, but high-carb meals at night – or eating too close to bedtime – can drive insulin levels up, suppressing melatonin and growth hormone. Not only does this result in a poor night’s sleep, but a chronically altered circadian rhythm has been linked to the onset of metabolic disease.

Which hormones regulate blood glucose?

Endocrine hormones, such as insulin and glucagon, are the primary hormones responsible for regulating sugar – but the story doesn’t end there. In the 1970s, scientists discovered that brain and gut hormones such as leptin, amylin and GLP-1 play a role. Since then, we have reports on additional hormones which help to regulate glucose, testosterone, and cortisol, such as growth hormone.

Does high sugar affect other hormones?

Yes. While high glucose can cause a rise of testosterone in women to rise, excess sugar has been shown to cause levels to drop in men – associated with trunkal weight gain, decline in libido and erectile dysfunction. For both sexes, the insulin prompted by high sugar can inhibit the production of human growth hormone, and a rise of cortisol, which is responsible for optimal muscle mass, visceral body fat and bone density.

What can I do about it?

The answer will vary for everyone. Habits such as being mindful of your nutritional choices and prioritizing sleep will have beneficial effects. At Groq Health, we use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to enable members to monitor their sugar in response to food, exercise, sleep, and other factors. Each Groq member’s unique intel is collected to connect the dots, on an N-of-1 basis using our groundbreaking personalized app. For more information, visit www.groqhealth.com.


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