Updated: May 14
Your blood sugar is one of the most critical 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, mainly when it includes type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, 86 million people have prediabetes, or blood glucose levels higher than usual 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. However, 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 and 5-10 mmol/L (80 to 140 mg/dl) after a meal is within the normal range. After eating, 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, which 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 cells can use it for energy.
How do you measure your blood sugar?