How Food Affects Blood Sugar
When you eat food, your body breaks it down into essential parts:
- Vitamins and minerals
All parts are necessary in a healthy diet, but the three types of carbohydrates are particularly important when it comes to your blood glucose level. While the general rule is that the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar level, not all three types of carbohydrates convert to blood sugar at the same rate.
The foods that fit into each carb category include:
- Starches, or complex carbohydrates: Starchy vegetables, dried beans, and grains
- Sugars: Fruits, baked goods, beverages, and processed food items like cereals or granola bars
- Fiber: Whole wheat products, chickpeas, lentils, berries, pears, and brussels sprouts
The glycemic index helps you find out which foods can increase or help decrease blood sugar levels. Based on a scale ranging from 0 to 100, high-indexed foods are rapidly digested, absorbed, and metabolized, resulting in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels, while low-indexed foods produce smaller fluctuations in your blood glucose.
The American Diabetes Association advises adding lean sources of protein and heart-healthy fats to help reduce the overall glycemic impact of a meal or snack.
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Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
The American Diabetes Association advises becoming familiar with responding to your symptoms of low glucose levels since every person is different. Common low blood sugar symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
A tingling or numb sensation in your tongue, lips, or cheeks
It is also possible for hypoglycemia symptoms to go unnoticed: This is Hypoglycemia unawareness. It prevents many people with diabetes from identifying the early signs of hypoglycemia, so theyre less likely to receive treatment in time.
Research suggests that older adults are at a higher risk of this complication than younger generations. Regular blood sugar testing is vital.
The only way to truly know if your glucose is low is to check your blood sugar never just assume. If you are struggling or unfamiliar with the process, consult your healthcare provider.
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How To Improve Blood Test Results
Identifying the foods or meals that regularly spike your blood sugar too high, too fast, or too long can help you to individualize your diet for longevity.
After a few weeks of testing your blood sugar levels after eating various types of food, you should have a clear record of how your body responds.
A balanced blood sugar results in a greater sense of wellbeing, having more energy, preventing the afternoon crash and feeling hangry , and getting a better nights rest.
Heres what It feels like to have normal blood sugar:
- No extreme hunger between meals
- No sleepiness after meals or mid-day
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What Is The Normal Blood Sugar Range
Your doctor is the best person to ask what your blood sugar goals should be. Since everyone is different and unique, your goals may be different from the standard ranges. Things like age, your health, how long youve had diabetes, pregnancy, might change what the doctor wants you toaim for.
The top two blood sugar ranges or targets are:
- Fasting or before meal blood sugar This is your blood sugar number before a meal. It is usually your lowest number. It is best between 4.0 and 7.0 mmol/L.
- After meal blood sugar This is your blood sugar number two hours after a meal. It is usually your highest number. It is best between 5.0 and 10.0 mmol/L.
No one isperfect and in range all the time. But if your numbers are too high, that is called Hyperglycemia. If your numbers are too low, that is called Hypoglycemia. In both situations, your doctor will want to know how you are feeling to make sure you are alright and tell you how to get back into range.
How Do I Check
People with diabetes check their blood glucose levels by poking their fingertips and using a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor to measure the blood glucose level at that moment. Read on to find out how to use a blood glucose meter. To find out more about CGMs, start by talking to your doctor.
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When Is The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar With Type 2 Diabetes
Generally, healthcare professionals recommend checking blood sugar before meals and at bedtime. However, this can vary depending on a persons diabetes management plan.
When a person has type 2 diabetes, their body cannot regulate the volume of sugar, or glucose, in their blood. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels can be a key tool for managing the condition.
Read on to learn about the benefits, how to check blood sugar levels, the best time to check, and more.
A person with type 2 diabetes may have too much sugar also called glucose in their blood. Glucose is the primary source of energy for all cells.
Type 2 diabetes causes problems with the production or use of insulin, a hormone that breaks down blood glucose. This means the glucose stays in the bloodstream.
If a person has too much glucose in their blood, they can experience complications such as:
- bladder problems
check their blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter. To use a blood glucose meter, the American Diabetes Association recommends that a person do the following:
This shows the changes in their glucose levels over time.
Blood Sugar Level Charts For Those With Diabetes
Normal blood sugar levels, for those with diabetes, will vary depending on someones age and the time of day. For example, when fasting, blood sugar levels are often in the target goal range. The type of food eaten will impact blood sugar levels in different ways. A meal with a lot of carbohydrates will raise blood sugar quicker than a meal that contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat . Blood sugar will rise after a meal, but will start to return to normal levels in several hours.
Lets take a look at what blood sugar levels should be, in those with diabetes, based on their age.
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Tips To Flush Sugar Out Of Our Bodies Quickly
If our blood sugar stays high for a prolonged period, it can damage multiple organs. One way to reduce blood sugar levels is exercise. This works in two ways .
- Exercise enhances insulin sensitivity. Our muscles can use the low amounts of insulin available to take up glucose from the blood.
- When our muscles are actively contracting, the cells can take up glucose and use it for energy, even without insulin.
Muscles are the most effective components of our body for reducing blood sugar levels. A 90-minute brisk walk can reduce the glucose rise after a meal by about 50%. Regular exercise reduces the rise in blood sugar levels after meals .
The American Diabetic Association advises checking our urine for ketones before exercising . Exercising may increase our blood sugar level if our urine has ketones.
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What Should Your Blood Sugar Be When You Wake Up
Whenever possible, aim to keep your glucose levels in range between 70 and 130 mg/dL in the morning before you eat breakfast, and between 70 and 180 mg/dL at other times. For some people, including older adults or pregnant women, a slightly looser or tighter glucose range might be best, and you should discuss with your healthcare provider what your goals may be.
Managing your glucose levels is key to preventing short and long-term complications. Though the occasional high blood glucose wont put you in immediate danger consistently high glucose levels over a long period of time are associated with complications of diabetes such as heart disease and stroke, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, eye disease and more.
Additionally, high glucose levels especially in people with type 1 diabetes can put you in immediate danger. These high levels, if combined with high blood ketone levels, can cause diabetic ketoacidosis , a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a person has high blood ketones and not enough insulin. Symptoms of DKA include shortness of breath, fruity-smelling breath, nausea and vomiting, confusion, or loss of consciousness.
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What Is A Normal Blood Sugar
Ideas about normal blood sugar levels are based on individuals eating a standard American diet. This type of diet usually contains about 50% of calories from carbohydrate, the nutrient that tends to raise blood sugar the most.2
If your own carbohydrate intake is much lower than this, you may have a different normal. You can jump to How a low-carb diet affects blood sugar measurements for more information.
Fasting blood sugar levels
A normal fasting blood sugar level in someone who does not have diabetes is generally between 70 and 100 mg/dL .3
Fasting blood sugar that consistently falls in the range of 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes, which is also referred to as impaired fasting glucose.
If your fasting blood sugar is above 126 mg/dL on two separate occasions, then you may have diabetes.
If you are concerned about the measurements youre getting, especially if you are already on a low-carbohydrate diet, see How a low-carb diet affects blood sugar measurements. A few blood sugar measurements may not always provide an accurate picture of your health.
Post-meal blood sugar levels
If your healthcare provider has not given you specific instructions regarding when to test post-meal blood sugar, you may want to try measuring it one to two hours after you begin eating. Whichever reading is the highest is the one that you should pay attention to, because blood sugar levels may peak at different times.
Blood glucose chart
Late Eating Could Tip The Scale Toward Weight Gain
The first of the two new studies involved 16 people who were overweight or obese. They tried two different eating regimens for one day each. First, some of the participants started eating an hour after their natural wake-up time, while the rest waited to start eating until about five hours after waking up. Then the two groups switched schedules on a later date.
The meals they all consumed were identical and the quantity of calories and nutrients was consistent across both schedules, according to Frank Scheer, the studys senior author and director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Womens Hospital.
The researchers measured participantsâ hormone levels and found that late eating decreased levels of leptin a hormone that helps people feel full by 16% on average. Late eating also doubled the odds that people felt hungry .
Furthermore, the researchers found that late eaters had an increased desire for starchy and salty foods, as well as meat, dairy and vegetables. Scheer said that might be because people crave more energy-dense foods when theyâre hungrier.
The study also found consistent changes in fat tissue associated with the late-eating regimen, suggesting an increased likelihood of building up new fat cells and a decreased chance of burning fat.
But Scheer said more research is needed before heâs comfortable making any recommendations.
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What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, comes from the food you eat. Your body creates blood sugar by digesting some food into a sugar that circulates in your bloodstream.
Blood sugar is used for energy. The sugar that isnt needed to fuel your body right away gets stored in cells for later use.
Too much sugar in your blood can be harmful. Type 2 diabetes is a disease thats characterized by having higher levels of blood sugar than whats considered within normal limits.
Unmanaged diabetes can lead to problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels.
The more you know about how eating affects blood sugar, the better you can protect yourself against diabetes. If you already have diabetes, its important to know how eating affects blood sugar.
Your body breaks down everything you eat and absorbs the food in its different parts. These parts include:
- vitamins and other nutrients
The carbohydrates you consume turn into blood sugar. The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher the levels of sugar youll have released as you digest and absorb your food.
Carbohydrates in liquid form consumed by themselves are absorbed more quickly than those in solid food. So having a soda will cause a faster rise in your blood sugar levels than eating a slice of pizza.
Fiber is one component of carbohydrates that isnt converted into sugar. This is because it cant be digested. Fiber is important for health, though.
- white grain products, such as pasta and rice
- cold processed cereals
Dont 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 dont kid yourself that you can get away with too little shut-eye regularly without it causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels.
Its 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.
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Blood Sugar Why Does It Matter In Diabetes
Blood sugar is the sugar or glucose in your blood. Having some sugar in your blood is vital because its a significant energy source for your body. A hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas regulates blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesnt make enough insulin or cant use the insulin it produces effectively. As a result, it raises your blood sugar levels, which may lead to several serious health problems if left untreated.
High blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and organs and lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Thats why controlling your blood sugar level is crucial if you have diabetes.
New Day Time To Check
The best time to check blood sugar is in the morning, and in particular with morning blood sugar levels as it is a very important measurement for diabetics to evaluate each day. Although you shouldnt do it immediately after you wake up, but you do need to do it before you eat. The body needs some time get up to speed after it slows down while you sleep although it does come around quite quickly. 15 minutes should be fine for having you up to speed metabolically, so after that time check your blood sugar and then have breakfast.
Speaking of the most important meal of the day, there are options that can be better for people with diabetes. Even some of the foods that you might think are healthier choices are the types that can contribute to blood sugar levels being too high. Bran muffins are a great example. Theyre healthier for sure but a lot of the ingredients in the most delicious bran muffins molasses most notably can really spike morning blood sugar levels. Eating foods with these types of ingredients means it is recommended to cut back on carbs to compensate along with what is the best time to check blood sugar.
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Insulin And Blood Sugar
Insulin is an important hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels. The pancreas makes insulin. It helps control your blood sugar levels by assisting the cells that absorb sugar from the bloodstream.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body doesnt make insulin. This means you have to inject insulin every day.
If diet and exercise arent enough to manage blood sugar, those with type 2 diabetes may be prescribed medications to help keep blood sugar levels within target ranges.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin, but may not use it properly or produce enough of it. Your cells dont respond to insulin, so more sugar keeps circulating in the blood.
Exercise can help the cells respond better and be more sensitive to insulin. The proper diet can also help you avoid spikes in blood sugar. This can help keep your pancreas functioning well since high blood sugar levels decrease pancreatic function.
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Hours After Eating A Meal
Checking your blood sugar approximately 1 to 2 hours after eating is hugely important, because it tells you if your body has the tools it needs in order to handle your meals. Being consistently higher or lower than your goal range after eating can tell you some very important and clear things about your current diabetes management regimen.
A high blood sugar level 1 to 2 hours after eating could suggest:
- Your body may need more rapid-acting insulin for your last meal.
- If you were high before the meal, and high 2 hours after, your body may need more basal/background insulin.
A low blood sugar level in the hours after eating could suggest:
- Your body may need less rapid-acting insulin for your last meal.
- If you also engaged in physical activity after eating, you may need a reduced meal dose.
Talk to your healthcare team about making any adjustments to your diabetes regimen to help you achieve your blood sugar goals.
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