Your Sugar or Your Life? How Your Glycemic Load Impacts Migraines and Adrenal Fatigue

Foods with low glycemic loads are the best choice for your health. Meals made up of simple carbohydrates (sugar!) spike your blood sugar, causing both long and short-term damage to your body.

Our bodies need sugar. It’s an efficient source of energy. However, sugar is sneaky and often appears in food we don’t consider sweet. Sugar changes your body, and has a largely negative affect on your adrenal glands and migraines.

What is Glycemic Load?

To understand glycemic load, you need to understand glycemic index (GI). Perhaps you’ve heard of a glycemic index before. It’s a ranking of carbohydrates from 1 to 100 that measures how food raises your blood sugar.

High glycemic foods spike your blood sugar. Your body can digest these foods very quickly. In contrast, foods that have a low glycemic index are digested gradually, causing your blood sugar to rise steadily.

Low glycemic index: 55 or less
Medium glycemic index: 56- 69
High glycemic index: 70 or higher

One short-coming with GI is that it doesn’t take portion size into account. You can eat something with a high GI, but if you aren’t eating much of it, it probably isn’t affecting much of your body.

For example, watermelon has a high GI of 72. However, it doesn’t have many carbohydrates per serving, so you’d have to eat a lot for it to significantly affect your body negatively.

To counteract this, Harvard scientists developed a scale called the “glycemic load”. Glycemic load equals a food’s GI divided by 100 and multiplied by the grams of carbohydrates. In a formula it is written as:

GL = (GI/100)(Grams of carbohydrates)

Low glycemic load: 11 or lower
Medium glycemic load: 11-19
High glycemic load: 20 or above

Foods with a high glycemic load include:

● White bread
● White rice
● Most cereals
● Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup.
● Fruit juice concentrate
● Brown sugar

Some foods with low glycemic loads include:

● Lime
● All kinds of berries
● Kidney and garbanzo beans
● Nuts, including peanuts

Adrenal Fatigue and Glycemic Load

Your blood sugar matters for most functions in your body. In fact, high blood sugars are considered toxic. In some situations, high blood sugar can cause blindness, kidney failure, and cardiovascular problems.

You shouldn’t be surprised, then, to learn your glycemic load impacts your adrenal function. Adrenal fatigue is complicated. It occurs when your body undergoes chronic, unrelenting stress, leading to weakly functioning adrenal glands.

A common symptom of adrenal fatigue is hypoglycemia, which occurs when you have low blood sugar levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include nausea, dizziness, memory loss, and lethargy.

Because of this, patients with adrenal fatigue need to be especially cautious about managing their blood sugar levels. A dip in blood sugar (and the brain fog, dizziness, irritability, and shakiness that comes from it) might make you want to grab that chocolate bar or munch on that French bread. Unfortunately, those simple sugars won’t help you. Instead, the fluctuations in your sugars means that you’ll feel worse than before.

Don’t give in. Satisfying your sweet tooth isn’t worth it.

Adrenal Fatigue and Migraines

People who deal with adrenal fatigue and migraines may find that blood sugar is even more important for them. Adrenal fatigue and migraines are related. Migraines can put stress on the body that cause adrenal fatigue. However, a symptom of adrenal fatigue can also be migraines.

Because blood sugar spikes can heighten the effects of adrenal fatigue, keeping clear of foods with high glycemic loads is necessary for migraine patients. Instead, learn what to eat to lessen the effects of adrenal fatigue.

Everybody needs to manage their blood sugar but doing so will likely be life-changing for you. Monitor the glycemic loads of the foods you eat to help lessen the dips and rises in your sugars so you can avoid dizziness, irritability, brain fog, and migraines.


Dr. Lam – Glycemic Index and Adrenal Fatigue
Everyday Health – Lowdown on Glycemic Index
Harvard Health – Glucose and the Body
Adrenal Fatigue Coach – Low Glycemic Foods