Your blood sugar is one of the most important factors in your overall health and wellness. Understanding how it works, what you can do to control it, and what problems it can cause will help you achieve optimal health.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes (2016). That is a staggering number, especially when it includes both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, 86 million people have prediabetes, or blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as having diabetes.
What is blood sugar?
Blood sugar is the amount of sugar in your blood. Your blood sugar level stays within a specific range to keep your body running smoothly every day. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar level is usually too high (hyperglycemia), especially when first diagnosed.
Did you know that the average person has blood sugar levels that are 20% higher than they should be?
Glucose is the primary sugar found in the blood. It is an essential energy source and provides nutrients to the body's organs, muscles, and nervous system. The absorption, storage, and glucose production are regulated constantly by the small intestine, liver, and pancreas.
How does blood sugar work?
For most people, 4-7 mmol/L (80 to 99 milligrams of sugar per deciliter) before a meal and 5-10 mmol/L (80 to 140 mg/dl) after a meal is within the normal range. After you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into smaller parts, including glucose. Dextrose, another form of simple sugar, is chemically identical to glucose but is made from corn and rice. It is often used as a sweetener and has medicinal purposes.
Diabetes is a condition that affects the way your body processes sugar. Your cells need sugar (glucose) for energy, and this is what allows you to live. But your cells can’t just get any old sugar; they need glucose, which your body creates from the food you eat and stores in your liver and muscles. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, lets cells take in glucose so that your cells can use it for energy.
How do you measure your blood sugar?
Diabetes happens when the body lacks insulin, becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, or a combination of both. The disorder can be linked to many causes, including obesity, diet, and family history. It can take decades to diagnose high blood-sugar levels, and by that time, the harmful effects will have already taken place. Health professionals can check blood sugar levels with an HbA1c test, a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
What are the symptoms of low/high blood sugar (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia)?
In hypoglycemia, the body fails to produce enough sugar. People with this disorder need treatment when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L (70 mg/dL).
If your blood sugar has dropped, you may feel:
shaky, light-headed, nauseated
nervous, irritable, anxious
confused, unable to concentrate
an increase in heart rate
numbness or tingling on your tongue or lips
Symptoms of very low blood sugar (less than 2.8 mmol/L) are more severe and can make you:
confused and disoriented
have a seizure
The followings can cause it:
more physical activity than usual
not eating on time
eating less than you should have
taking too much medication
Check your blood sugar level right away if you're having symptoms of low blood sugar. Since low blood sugar can hit unexpectedly, it's essential to handle it as soon as possible. If your blood sugar is dangerously low, you may need assistance. Treat the symptoms even though you don't have your glucose metre on you. It's better to be safe than sorry! Next, ingest a quick-acting carbohydrate (15 grams). Examples include 3 glucose tablets, 1 tbsp of honey or sugar, 1/2 cup of juice or regular pop.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) occurs when your blood sugar is at or above 11 mmol/L. If you have high blood sugar, you may:
urinate more often than usual, especially during the night
High blood sugar can result when food, activity, and/or medications are not balanced. High blood sugar may happen when you are sick or under stress.
Follow the treatment recommended by your doctor or a diabetes educator. If this happens often, you may need to call or see your doctor to:
adjust your meal plan
adjust your physical activity
adjust your medication and/or insulin
Keeping blood sugar in control.
Healthy individuals can keep their blood sugar at the appropriate levels using the following methods: Maintaining a healthy weight. Please talk with a competent health care professional (Our in-house Pharmacist specialized in Diabetes care) or a nutritionist about what an ideal weight for you should be before starting any weight loss program.
Adjusting your diet/ Meal plan.
Look for and select whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, instead of highly processed or prepared foods. Consider adding nuts, vegetables, herbs and spices to your diet.
A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can significantly reduce your weight and blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Getting mineral levels checked
Research also shows that magnesium plays a vital role in helping insulin do its job.
When you start learning about the science behind diabetes, it’s quite overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn, and it cannot be obvious at first. One of the most important things to remember is that all of this knowledge will help you live a better life with diabetes. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more empowered you’ll feel, which will make a living with diabetes much easier. Talk to Our in-house Pharmacist specialized in Diabetes care.