The Facts About Diabetes And Blood Sugar
As the American Diabetes Association explains, your body needs sugar for fuel, and theres a fairly complicated process that makes it possible for your body to use that sugar. Insulin, which is made by the pancreas, is the hormone that enables the cells in your body to take advantage of sugar.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body isnt able to remove sugar from your blood. This can happen if your body stops being sensitive to insulin or if it starts to respond in a delayed or exaggerated way to changes in your blood sugar.
Diabetes is signaled by an elevated blood sugar level of more than 126 milligrams per deciliter for a fasting blood test, or more than 200 mg/dL at any time during the day. It can also be indicated by a hemoglobin A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher, a measure of the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin in the blood during the past two to three months.
Unchecked high blood sugar gradually damages the blood vessels in your body. Over the long term, this slow, progressive harm can lead to a dangerous loss of sensation in your legs and feet, a loss of eyesight and kidney function, and an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Try To Lose A Few Pounds If You Can
If youre considered overweight, losing weight might help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Losing 5-10% of your initial body weight can help prevent diabetes for at-risk people and improve blood glucose control if you already have diabetes. For a 200-pound person, that would equal a 10-20 pound weight loss.
How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
Recommended Reading: What Does It Mean If Your Glucose Levels Are High
Foods For Stable Blood Sugar
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.
Eating more fibre is helpful too. Fibre helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal it reduces the spike in your blood sugar level. Fibre is found in wholegrain, plant-based foods . Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies is a great way to increase your fibre intake.
Also eating protein and healthy fat foods which break down slowly and dont cause blood sugar spikes. Foods like meat, fish, eggs, tofu, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention its a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.
To learn more about how to use foods and supplements to balance your blood sugar level, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.
How Can I Pay For Tests And Diabetes Supplies
Medicareexternal icon, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and fasting blood sugar test as well as some diabetes supplies. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low-cost or free supplies, and see How to Save Money on Diabetes Care for more resources.
You May Like: How To Use Glucose Meter
How Your Diet Impacts Blood Sugar
Your body breaks down carbohydratesfound in grains, fruit, vegetables, milk, and sweetsinto glucose. When glucose enters your bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to carry it to your cells so it can be used for energy. Any that is left over is stored in the liver and muscles to be used later on when your blood sugar gets low.
Sugar and processed carbohydrates have the largest effect on blood sugar, says licensed and registered dietitian , an integrative sports nutritionist and team nutritionist for the Chicago Blackhawks. When you eat too many processed carbs, your pancreas pumps out an increased amount of insulin to move the glucose from your blood into your cells. In the short term, that can cause your energy to surge and then crash.
To compensate,the pancreas pumps out even more insulin to get blood sugar to your cells, but over time, your cells stop responding and can become insulin resistant. The pancreas keeps producing more insulin for these cells but eventually, it cant keep up, so your blood sugar continues to rise. If this behavior goes unchecked, over time it can impair your bodys ability to regulate and use glucose for energy, which can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
However, carbohydrates are a vital macronutrient, so you just need to be smart about the type of carbs you choose. These are the three main types:
Maintaining Balanced Blood Sugar Levels Is Absolutely Critical For Us All Not Just Diabetics
The extreme blood sugar highs and lows that cause blood sugar dysregulation not only increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but they also suppress the immune system, weaken the vascular system, slow metabolism, inhibit the ability to lose weight, and cause a host of cognitive issues from lethargy to impaired memory.
Also Check: How Many Meals A Day For Diabetics
Manage Your Stress Level
When youre stressed, your bodys adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response, which results in physical changes such as your pupils dilating and heart rate increasing. Cortisol also increases your blood sugar levels and reduces insulin levels, according to a study.
The problem with chronic stress is that cortisol levels remain increased for much longer than is healthy. Prolonged stress can cause health problems, including the risk of having blood sugar spikes. Some studies have found that cortisol is associated with increased blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
RELATED: How To Naturally Reduce Cortisol Levels.
Eat The Majority Of Your Calories Early In The Day
Dinner may be thought of as the biggest meal of the day, but if you have elevated blood sugar, you should stop thinking of things that way. And don’t “save” your calories for a big meal either.
“Eating more of your calories earlier in the day can improve blood sugar levels since our bodies follow a circadian rhythm where we process food better during daylight hours,” Harris-Pincus explains. “People who eat a larger breakfast and lunch with a smaller dinner have been shown to improve blood sugar more than people consuming the same amount of calories but during evening hours.”
Plus, when you jam everything in later in the evening at dinner, especially if you eat dinner close to bedtime, your belly might feel too full, and GI distress could prevent you from falling asleep comfortably.
Read Also: Type 2 Diabetes Blood Sugar Range
How To Know If Your Blood Glucose Is Spiking
If youâre curious to see if and how much your blood sugar levels are spiking after a meal, the best way currently is to wear a continuous glucose monitor , which will show you a chart of your levels across the day. With a CGM, youâll be able to observe just how much different foods impact your glucose levels, as well as how quickly your body reacts to bring them back down to normal levels.
CGMs are available to purchase privately, and not everybody can afford them, so an alternative is using finger prick blood tests. These only tell you your levels at a certain point in time, so if you do use finger prick tests itâs best to try to be as consistent as possibleâfor example, to always do the test the same number of minutes after eating a meal.
Keep A Healthy Weight
At present, two out of three adults in the US are considered to be overweight or obese .
Being overweight or obese can make it more difficult for your body to use insulin and control blood sugar levels.
This can lead to blood sugar spikes and a corresponding higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The precise ways it works are still unclear, but theres lots of evidence linking obesity to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes .
Weight loss, on the other hand, has been shown to improve blood sugar control.
In one study, 35 obese people lost an average of 14.5 pounds over 12 weeks while they were on a diet of 1,600 calories a day. Their blood sugar dropped by an average of 14% .
In another study of people without diabetes, weight loss was found to decrease the incidence of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% .
Being overweight makes it difficult for your body to control blood sugar levels. Even losing a little weight can improve your blood sugar control.
Read Also: Symptoms Of Diabetes In Seniors
How To Reduce Blood Sugar Spikes
These tips can help people with and without type 2 diabetes keep their blood sugar spikes to a minimum:
Start your day the savoury way
While the long-held belief that breakfast is the âmost important meal of the dayâ is up for debate, thereâs no doubt that the breakfast you choose can set you up for the day simply based on how it affects your blood sugar. A sugary start will cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels, while a savoury meal will keep levels steadierâthis can determine your cravings and hunger pains for the rest of the day.
Lots of âhealthyâ breakfast cereals actually contain a lot of hidden sugar, so while you think youâve made a healthy choiceâmuesli and yoghurt for exampleâyour body will still be hit with a big rush of sugar. So, if youâre used to reaching for the cereal, a slice of toast with jam, or even a fruit smoothie, think about adding some savoury breakfasts to your morningâboiled or scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast, salmon and cream cheese bagels, avocado toast. Bonus points if you can sneak in a portion of whole fruit as well!
How Can I Keep My Blood Sugar Levels Under Control
Keeping blood sugars close to normal can be hard sometimes, and nobody’s blood sugar control is perfect. Sometimes blood sugar levels can get too high or low even when you do all the right things to help keep them steady.
But you can do some things to help keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range:
- Take your insulin or pills when you’re supposed to.
- Follow your meal plan as much as possible.
- Get regular exercise.
- Check your blood sugar level several times a day.
- Visit your doctor regularly.
- Learn as much as possible about diabetes.
Take these steps and you’ll be doing your very best to keep your diabetes under control.
Don’t Miss: Can Low Blood Sugar Cause Seizures
Fiber May Help You Lose Weight
Both insoluble and soluble fiber slow your digestion, which can signal to your body that it’s not in a huge hurry to eat again. This helps you feel fuller for longer, and therefore may reduce your caloric intake.
A 2017 study published in Food and Nutrition Research of 40 college-aged women found that inulin fiber a naturally occurring soluble fiber found in foods like bananas, garlic, and onions significantly reduced appetite.
During the study, participants were given either a placebo or water mixed with 16 grams of inulin fiber and told to drink it first thing in the morning. After drinking the mixture for seven days, researchers assessed participants’ appetite. The inulin fiber group reported feeling less hunger and consumed an average of 21% fewer calories at lunch than the placebo group.
Eat Fewer Refined Carbs
Refined carbs, otherwise known as processed carbs, are sugars or refined grains.
Some common sources of refined carbs are table sugar, white bread, white rice, soda, candy, breakfast cereals and desserts.
Refined carbs have been stripped of almost all nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Refined carbs are said to have a high glycemic index because they are very easily and quickly digested by the body. This leads to blood sugar spikes.
A large observational study of more than 91,000 women found that a diet high in high-glycemic-index carbs was associated with an increase in type 2 diabetes .
The spike in blood sugar and subsequent drop you may experience after eating high-glycemic-index foods can also promote hunger and can lead to overeating and weight gain .
The glycemic index of carbs varies. Its affected by a number of things, including ripeness, what else you eat and how the carbs are cooked or prepared.
Generally, whole-grain foods have a lower glycemic index, as do most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and legumes.
Refined carbs have almost no nutritional value and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
You May Like: Non Insulin Drugs For Diabetes
How Can I Treat High Blood Sugar
Talk to your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Your doctor may suggest the following:
- Be more active. Regular exercise can help keep your blood sugar levels on track. Important: dont exercise if ketones are present in your urine. This can make your blood sugar go even higher.
- Take medicine as instructed. If your blood sugar is often high, your doctor may change how much medicine you take or when you take it.
- Follow your diabetes meal plan. Ask your doctor or dietitian for help if youre having trouble sticking to it.
- Check your blood sugar as directed by your doctor. Check more often if youre sick or if youre concerned about high or low blood sugar.
- Talk to your doctor about adjusting how much insulin you take and what types of insulin to use.
What Does Eating Right Mean For You
If you have type 1 diabetes, carb counting is really important to keep your blood glucose levels steady. This is where you estimate how many carbs are in your meal and match it with how much insulin you need to take.
If you have type 2 and youre overweight, finding a way to lose weight is important as it really improves diabetes management. This is because it can help to lower your blood glucose and reduce your risk of other complications. There are different ways of doing this like the low-carb, Mediterranean or very low-calorie diets. Losing weight can help you lower your blood glucose levels, and we now know that substantial weight loss can even put some people’s type 2 diabetes into remission.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you might need to lose, gain or maintain your current weight but its important to make healthier food choices while youre doing this.
Portion sizes are important to think about whether you have type 1 or type 2. It makes calculating nutritional facts when youre carb counting or managing your weight a lot easier. Remember, portion sizes are different for everyone, so whats right for someone else might not be right for you.
If you feel overwhelmed about your feelings about food and diabetes, we have plenty of information to help you.
Don’t Miss: Blood Sugar Immediately After Eating
Lifestyle Tips For Stable Blood Sugar
Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity this means that your cells dont ignore insulins call to get excess sugar out of the blood. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didnt you?
Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the fight or flight stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to fight or flee? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress youre under and manage it more effectively. Simple lifestyle tips are regular meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you dont get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority it will do your blood sugar good.
Don’t Shortchange Your Sleep
Getting enough sleep at night is crucial for overall health and wellbeing, but especially for blood sugar control. Sure, one night of shortened or interrupted sleep may not have a detrimental effect, but don’t kid yourself that you can get away with too little shut-eye regularly without it causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels.
“It’s recommended that we snooze for seven to nine hours per night, and missing out on quality sleep can trigger stress hormones that increase blood sugar levels,” Harris-Pincus explains.
Plus, stress is unhealthy in general, and it can lead to an increase in cravings, moodiness, physical discomfort, GI distress, and higher risk of disease, among other various concerns.
Also Check: Good Blood Glucose Level For Diabetic