Simple Tips To Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Blood sugar spikes occur when your blood sugar rises and then falls sharply after you eat.
In the short term, they can cause lethargy and hunger. Over time, your body may not be able to lower blood sugar effectively, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a rising health problem. In fact, 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 25% of them dont even know they have it .
Blood sugar spikes can also cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
This article looks at 12 simple things you can do to prevent blood sugar spikes.
When Should You Check Blood Sugar Levels
Checking your blood sugar levels regularly can help you track your symptoms and prevent any serious problems. You should check your sugar levels as soon as you wake up and on an empty stomach.
Also, check the sugar levels before eating, two hours after eating, and when you go to bed. People with diabetes who take mealtime insulin should check their blood sugar as advised by their physicians.
Keep An Eye On Your Carb Intake
Paying attention to carbohydrates is important for people with type 2 diabetes. Carbs are what cause your blood sugars to potentially fluctuate, Crandall Snyder says.
How many carbs per meal is ideal? Its tailored to each individual, says Weisenberger. How much you exercise, your weight, and your age can all affect how long sugars stay in your system, according to the CDC. A typical starting point for people with diabetes is to limit carb intake to 200 to 245 grams per day, which amounts to about one-half of your daily calories coming from carbs, according to the CDC. From there, make adjustments according to your blood glucose readings or as recommended by a dietitian, Crandall Snyder says.
And keep in mind that carbs arent only found in the usual culprits, like bread, potatoes, and pasta. They are also in fruits, vegetables, sweets, and dairy, so you have to take all of those into consideration as well, Crandall Snyder says.
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When To Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
Type 1 diabetes, adult: Check at least twice daily, up to 10 times a day. You should perform tests before breakfast, at fasting, before meals, sometimes 2 hours after meals, before and after physical activity, and at bedtime.
Type 1 diabetes, child: Check at least four times daily. You should perform tests before meals and at bedtime. Tests may also be required 12 hours after meals, before and after exercise, and overnight.
Type 2 diabetes, people using insulin or other management medications: The recommended frequency of testing varies depending on insulin dosage and the use of any additional medications.
Insulin Is The Fastest Way To Lower Blood Sugar
Michael Menna, DO, is a board-certified, active attending emergency medicine physician at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
High blood sugar is common in people with diabetes. It occurs when there is too much glucose in your blood and not enough insulin in your body. The quickest way to lower high blood sugar is an insulin injection.
For those who are not prescribed insulin, exercise is your best option for bringing blood sugar levels down. Taking missed medication, drinking lots of water, and using stress-management tools can also help to lower blood sugar quickly.
This article discusses the four best ways to lower your blood sugar quickly. It also explains what causes high blood sugar and warning signs that your blood sugar is dangerouly high.
Verywell / Theresa Chiechi
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Which Foods Keep Your Sugar Levels In Control
Carbohydrates need to be consistent. You dont want to eat all of your daily carb count in one meal. That will cause your blood sugar to spike, and then drop during the other meals. Giving your body a steady amount of carbohydrates will provide a stable amount of energy. It will also help your body make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at a healthy number.
The easiest way to make sure that your carb intake is appropriate is to count carbohydrates. It is a simplified way to evaluate foods based on their nutritional value. The best place to start when counting is to aim for 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and roughly 15 to 30 grams for each snack in between meals. You may have to adjust this based on your individual needs and your blood sugar readings. It is a lot easier to calculate the carbohydrates when you have a food with a label, but many foods do not. Check the serving size on the label to be sure that you are counting correctly. The US Department of Agriculture has a website that allows you to type in any food and it will give you the nutritional values. Check it out at . A few examples of 15 grams of carbs include:
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ cup of oatmeal
- 1 small piece of fresh fruit
It is important that you pay attention to nutrients other than the carbs too. Be sure to have adequate protein and fiber, while keeping lots of fat to a minimum.
When To Seek Medical Attention In An Emergency
For people with type 1 diabetes, untreated high blood sugar can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.
When there is no insulin and glucose can’t get into cells, your body starts breaking down fat into a fuel called ketones. If ketones build up in your blood, it becomes dangerously acidic. DKA can cause very serious health complications such as fluid building up in the brain, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest.
If your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, you should check your urine for ketones, a sign you may be at risk for DKA. You can do this with an at home test, but you also should contact your doctor. If there are ketones in your urine, you should go to the emergency room. Other symptoms of DKA include:
- Increased respiratory rate, or trouble breathing
- Breath that smells fruity
- Nausea and vomiting
- A very dry mouth
In rare occasions, DKA can occur in people with type 2 diabetes, but the more common complication for people with type 2 is called hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state, or HHS. HHS occurs when blood glucose levels are high for an extended period of time. The extra sugar is passed into the urine, causing the person to urinate frequently and become severely dehydrated, just like with DKA.
For people with type 2 diabetes, blood sugar above 600 mg/dL indicates HHS. Other symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
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Eat More Low Glycemic Foods
Food with a low glycemic index wont spike your blood sugar. Even though they contain carbs, theyre high in fiber, so they take longer to digest. Some of my favorite low glycemic foods also happen to be packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can support a healthy immune system. These include:
- All berries
- Leafy green vegetables
- Orange vegetables and fruits
- Nuts and seeds
Lean proteins like chicken and fish actually score a big fat zero on the glycemic index scale. That means they have no carbohydrates, so they wont raise your blood sugar. They also provide amino acids that your body needs to build the proteins in your immune system. Poultry, fish, and eggs are all great choices.
Manage Your Carb Intake
Your carb intake strongly influences your blood sugar levels .
Your body breaks carbs down into sugars, mainly glucose. Then, insulin helps your body use and store it for energy.
When you eat too many carbs or have insulin-function problems, this process fails, and blood glucose levels can rise.
Thats why the American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes manage their carb intake by counting carbs and being aware of how many they need .
Some studies find that this can help you plan your meals appropriately, further improving blood sugar management (
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- whole grains
The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 35 grams for men. Thats about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories .
Eating plenty of fiber can aid blood sugar management. Soluble dietary fiber appears to be more effective than insoluble fiber for this purpose.
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Get Enough Sleep Every Night
Sleep is important for overall health, and it can also help to lower blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that people who dont get enough sleep are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Plus, sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance, which can also contribute to high blood sugar levels.
So make sure youre getting enough sleep every night if you want to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
How much sleep do you need?
What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
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What Causes High Blood Sugar
To better manage hyperglycemia, its helpful to know potential triggers. Probably the first thing most people think about is foodin particular, carbohydratesand I would say even more specifically, simple carbohydrates would be the most likely culprit, says Dr. Hong. Foods that have a high glycemic index include things like white bread, potatoes, or rice.
More From Prevention
Beyond that, a common cause for a rise in blood sugar is a missed insulin dose, but its not always a matter of forgetting an injection. For example, in patients who are using an insulin pump, if the pump malfunctions or if there is a kink in the tubing or the infusion site is lodged and they are not aware that the insulin is not infusing, then that may happen, says Lorena Wright, M.D., an endocrinologist and the director of the LatinX Diabetes Clinic atUW Medicine. Insulin that is exposed to heat wont work as well either. Its not toxic, but it’s just not as effective, says Dr. Wright. That means your typical dose might not be as potent as youre used to, making the insulin less effective.
How Can You Tell If Your Blood Sugar Is High
If you dont have a glucometer , there are some physical symptoms that indicate high blood glucose. Usually if blood sugar is very high, the kidney is trying to eliminate all that sugar and in order to eliminate all that sugar, we need water to get rid of things, says Dr. Wright. That causes increased urination. You might also experience thirst as your body gets more dehydrated from the loss of fluid. Other patients, they describe that they might feel dizzy or sometimes they feel like their hands are tingly and that’s when they know that the blood sugars are high, adds Dr. Wright. Unfortunately, diabetes affects nearly every body part so symptoms can vary greatly. Other signs could be fatigue, just really not having the energy that you would expect you should have at that time, says Dr. Hong. And then more severely, things like nausea and vomiting or even abdominal pain can be signs of hyperglycemia.
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
When To Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Hyperglycemia can turn into a medical emergency like DKA and HHS that requires immediate intervention by your practitioner or a local emergency department. If you have two blood sugar readings of 300 mg/dL or more or have blood sugar above your target range for more than a week, seek immediate medical help.
Signs of hyperglycemia include:
- Ketones in your urine
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
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Do Some Physical Activity
Physical activity, whether its walking, jogging, bicycling, or dancing helps lower blood sugars both in the short-term and long-term. When you move, your cells take up glucose from the blood to be used as energy, thereby lowering blood sugars. You dont have to rush to the gym, either going for a walk, marching in place, or turning on the tunes and dancing at home can do wonders for your blood sugars. However, if you take insulin and your blood sugars are above 250 mg/dl, you should first check your urine for ketones using ketone strips. If you have ketones, dont exercise , and contact your provider.
What Causes The Blood Sugar Levels Go To High
Our bodies need sugar to make energy for the cells. Without it, we cannot do basic functions. When we eat foods with glucose, insulin pairs with it to allow it to enter into the cell wall. If the insulin is not there, then the glucose molecule cant get through the wall and cannot be used. The extra glucose hangs out in the bloodstream which is literally high blood sugar.
The lack of insulin can be caused by two different things.
- First, you can have decreased insulin resistance which means that your insulin doesnt react the way that it is supposed to. It doesnt partner with glucose to be used as fuel.
- Secondly, you can have no insulin, which is the case with type 1 diabetes.
Regardless of how it is caused, it is imperative to control blood sugars to help prevent problems.
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How To Lower Your Blood Sugar Naturally
Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes, and globally rates are expected to double by 2030. Significant evidence shows you can lower your blood sugar quickly, and even reverse diabetes by adopting a healthy lifestyle:
- In the United Kingdom, researchers successfully lowered blood sugar and reverse diabetes by implementing a combination of a lifestyle change and weight loss.
- In urban locations in Africa, scientists have found educational programs help prediabetic adults alter their lifestyle to effectively lower blood sugar levels.
- The most extensive study was completed in the United States and was called the Diabetes Prevention Program Randomized Trail. The study observed 3,234 men and women with pre-diabetes over a three-year period. The researchers found a healthy lifestyle was more effective than medication in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. One third of the adults took a placebo, another took metformin , while the final third of the adults adopted lifestyle changes that were similar to the Pritikin Program . Adults who adopted a lifestyle change were twice as likely to reduce the progression of their pre-diabetes into type 2 diabetes than the control group.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as the Pritikin lifestyle, is twice as effective as medication in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
High Calorie Foods May Or May Not Cause The Blood Sugar Level To Rise
Many people think that all high-calorie foods raise blood sugar level, but this is not always the case.
In general, foods that cause blood sugar level to rise the most are those that are high in carbohydrates, which are quickly converted into energy, such as rice, bread, fruits and sugar. Next are foods high in protein, such as meats, fish eggs, milk and dairy products, and oily foods. However, even though carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels, if you don’t eat them your diet will be unbalanced and you won’t feel satisfied after your meal, which can lead to excessive consumption of foods rich in protein and fat.
Food containing three major nutrients
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