Understand Nutrition And Adjust Your Diet
What you choose to eat and drink can have a major impact on not only your waistline, mood, and well-being, but also on your blood sugar levels.
All macronutrients can affect your blood sugar to some degree so developing a good understanding of how they affect your blood sugar will enable you to be proactive and prevent blood sugar swings.
Carbohydrates have the greatest impact on your blood sugar, which is why many people with diabetes can benefit from following a low- to medium-carb diet . The fewer carbs you eat, the less insulin you need to take, which makes diabetes management easier.
However, you dont have to follow a low-carb diet if it doesnt work for you physically or mentally. As I wrote in my post about which diet is best for people with diabetes, it is very possible to have great blood sugar control on a medium carb diet, as long as you experiment, take notes, and learn to take the right amounts of insulin for the carbs you are eating.
It is very important to realize that we all react differently to carbs so you have to find the diet and foods that are right for you.
As an example, people react very differently to carbs like oats or sweet potato. Some people can eat oats with only a small increase in blood sugar while others see a quick spike. By simply knowing this, people struggling with a certain type of carb can choose to reduce their consumption or cut it out of their diet altogether.
Protein & fats
Packed And Stacked Food
Diabetes patients should be cautious while choosing snacks. Snacks such as crackers, pretzels, and some other packed snacks should be avoided. Most of the snacks are processed food made from flour and dont provide many nutrients. Also, they contain enough carbs that can result in a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
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What Hba1c Do I Aim For
The goal for most people with diabetes will be in the 6.5-7 percent range however this may need to be higher for some people including children and the elderly. Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help you decide on a target that is both appropriate and realistic for your individual circumstances.
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What Are Abnormal Glucose Levels And Why Do They Matter
Why is it unhealthy for glucose levels to be too high or too low ?
Hyperglycemia refers to elevated blood glucose levels. This usually occurs because the body does not appropriately remove glucose from the blood this can happen due to many complex reasons. Elevated glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves over time this can then lead to problems in the eyes, kidneys, and heart, as well as numbness in the hands and feet. Very high levels can lead to coma and even death in some cases. People with fasting glucose levels higher than 100 mg/dl have impaired glucose tolerance and should speak with their healthcare provider.
Some people may think that to avoid all these issues, they should just keep their blood glucose levels as low as possible. If too high is bad, then low must be good, right? Not exactly. When glucose gets too low, its called hypoglycemia. The threshold for hypoglycemia is typically thought to be when glucose falls below 70 mg/dl. When this happens, the body may release epinephrine , the fight or flight hormone, which can lead to a fast heart rate, sweating, anxiety, blurry vision, and confusion, but also helps the body mobilize glucose into the blood. If blood glucose levels stay too low for too long, it can cause seizures, coma, and in very rare instances, death.
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Translating Your A1c To A Blood Sugar Level
Using this easy calculator from the ADA, you can translate your most recent A1C result to an eAG or estimate average glucose level.
You can also use this translation when working to improve your A1c and achieving closer to normal blood sugar levels. If you know an A1c of 6.5 is an average blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or a range of 100 to 152 mg/dL, then you can look at your current blood sugar results on your CGM and meter and pinpoint which time of day youre frequently higher than this range.12% = 298 mg/dL or range of 240 347 11% = 269 mg/dL or range of 217 31410% = 240 mg/dL or range of 193 2829% = 212 mg/dL or range of 170 2498% = 183 mg/dL or range of 147 2177% = 154 mg/dL or range of 123 1856% = 126 mg/dL or range of 100 1525% = 97 mg/dL or range of 76 120
Normal blood sugar levels in a person without diabetes can result in an A1c as low as 4.6 or 4.7 percent and as high as 5.6 percent.
Just a decade or two ago, it was rare for a person with type 1 diabetes to achieve an A1c result below 6 percent. Thanks to new and improved insulin and better technology like continuous glucose monitors and smarter insulin pumps, more people with diabetes are able to safely achieve A1c levels in the higher 5 percent range.
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How To Lower Your A1c
Now that you have a thorough understanding of A1c and time-in-range, as well as why looking at your A1c in isolation isnt optimal, the obvious question is:
How do you lower your A1c while improving or sustaining your time-in-range?
I will cover the four most important things you can do below but its always recommended that you start by having a conversation with your medical team before making changes to your diabetes management.
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What Is The Hba1c Test
Your HbA1c also known as A1c is a blood test that measures the amount of leftover glucose that have accumulated in your bloodstream during the prior 3 months. The higher your A1c is, the more damage is occurring to your bodys nerve endings and blood vessels in areas like your eyes, your fingers, and toes, and your kidneys.
The more AGEs are present in your blood, the more damage is occurring that can develop into diabetes complications like retinopathy, neuropathy, hair-loss, gastroparesis, dermopathy, and nephropathy.
The higher your blood sugars are each day, the higher your next A1c result will be!
How To Avoid Diabetic Ketoacidosis
It might have been a really long time since youve been in diabetic ketoacidosis , or maybe youve never had it.
But if you have Type 1 diabetes, you are at risk. Sometimes when you havent recently experienced a situation, you kind of forget about what you were told to do for prevention or treatment. Thats why a refresher might be a great idea!
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What To Do If Your Blood Sugar Is Too Low
You’ll need to test your blood sugar if you think you have hypoglycemia.Although type 2 diabetes is characterized by blood sugar that is too high, some people take insulin and others medications that can occasionally drive blood sugar too low. When blood sugar is too lowgenerally less than 70 mg/dLit’s called hypoglycemia, and it can become a medical emergency. You can lose consciousness Hypoglycemia is more likely to occur when you start taking a new medication or if you exercise more than usual. As blood sugar drops to low levels, you may feel: Shaky Irritable Sweaty This can occur within 10 to 15 minutes, and in extreme cases you can even lose consciousness and experience seizures if you don’t consume some glucose . Hypoglycemia”My blood sugar was really plummeting” Watch videoMore about blood sugar monitoring You’ll need to test your blood sugar to confirm that you’re having hypoglycemiasome people become irritable if blood sugar is too high, so it’s not always obvious. If you drink sugar-containing juice, or some other form of carbohydrate, it should bring blood sugar back into the normal range. You can also purchase glucose pills or gels in the pharmacy that can get blood sugar back on track. âYou should always have a glucose source in the car,â says Yvonne Thigpen, RD, diabetes program coorContinue reading > >
Low Blood Sugar Emergency
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Prediabetes: Symptoms Diagnosis & Treatment
The day youre diagnosed with prediabetes can feel like a remarkably scary day. It can also be a day that motivates you to take action. While type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease , there are still many things you can do to improve your blood sugars right away.
In fact, prediabetes is type 2 diabetes in its earliest stages which is why it shouldnt be dismissed or taken lightly. Youve earned the pre in front of diabetes because while your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, they simply arent high enough to qualify for full-fledged type 2 diabetes.
For some, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is reversible. For others, it may not be.
In this article, well look at the symptoms of prediabetes, how its diagnosed, how its treated, and whether or not it can be reversed.
How Do I Detect Spikes In My Sugar Levels
The exact timing of blood sugar spikes can vary from person to person and meal to meal. However, on average, the post-meal peaks tend to be about one hour and 15 minutes after starting a meal.
The best way to measure post-meal patterns is by using a continuous glucose monitor or Flash monitors. These devices can give you a clear view, including graphs, of what happens with the glucose levels after meals without the need for finger pricking . You can ask your diabetes health team if they are available for you as they are not available to everybody.
If you are not using a CGM, then please speak to your healthcare team about the best way to do this for you with finger prick testing.
How do I know it is a spike?
There is no universal answer or specific guidelines on when a sugar level is too high after meals. However, if post-meal readings are consistently above your target range , then you should discuss whether it would be beneficial for you to address these spikes and how to do this, with your healthcare team .
If you are reviewing your post-breakfast sugar levels, you should also be aware of changes in your hormones in the morning, which cause increases in sugar levels . This Digibete video may help.
Some ways to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals
1. Choose low glycaemic index foods
When blood sugar levels are low or hypoglycaemic we need high glycaemic index foods , such as dextrose tablets or juice, that are absorbed quickly to raise our levels and to treat the hypo.
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How To Do A Finger
Your healthcare team will show you how to do it the first time, but these are the key steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dont use wet wipes as the glycerine in them can affect the test result. Make sure your hands are warm so its easier to get blood and wont hurt as much.
- Take a test strip and slot it into the meter to turn it on. Some meters will have tests strips built in.
- Remove the cap from your finger prick device and put in a new lancet. Then put the cap back on and set the device by pulling or clicking the plunger.
- Choose which finger to prick but avoid your thumb or index finger . And dont prick the middle, or too close to a nail. Place the device against the side of your finger and press the plunger. Use a different finger each time and a different area.
- Take your meter with the test strip and hold it against the drop of blood. Itll tell you if the test strip is filled, usually by beeping.
- Before you look at your reading, check your finger. Use a tissue to stop bleeding, then use it to take out the lancet and throw it away in your sharps bin.
- You can use the same tissue to take out the test strip and throw that away too. Taking out the strip will usually turn the meter off.
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:
- Take four glucose tablets.
- Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
- Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
- Eat four pieces of hard candy.
Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.
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Is A Keto Diet Safe For People With Diabetes
While there hasnt been a lot of research done on the long-term effect of following a keto diet, its generally considered safe for most people with diabetes.
The main risks when following a keto diet are related to mental health. ANY restrictive diet can potentially lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, and, in some cases, eating disorders.
If you find yourself constantly thinking about food, avoiding social situations where food is involved, or struggle with a negative body image, please seek professional help.
NOTE: Its important to stress that this risk isnt related specifically to a keto diet but dieting in general!
Standing Is Good But Walking Is Better
The meta-analysis, , analyzed seven studies comparing the impact of sitting, standing and walking on the body’s insulin and blood sugar levels. People in the studies were asked either to stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day.
“Between the seven reviewed studies, the total activity time throughout the observation was roughly 28 minutes with the standing and light walking breaks lasting between 2 to 5 minutes,” Buffey said.
Standing was better than heading straight for the desk or the couch to sit when it came to blood sugar levels, but it didn’t help lower insulin in the bloodstream, the analysis found.
However, if people went for a short walk after eating, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually, and their insulin levels were more stable than either standing or sitting, the study noted.
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