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.
When To Go To The Er
High blood sugar can be very concerning because your body can start burning fat for energy instead of blood glucose.
This can cause conditions such as DKA and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome . These conditions are medical emergencies and can be fatal if left untreated.
DKA is a serious complication of type 1 diabetes. Its rare in people with type 2 diabetes, but can occur.
Symptoms that can indicate you should go to the emergency room include:
- ketones in your urine, as diagnosed using a urine dipstick test
High blood sugar levels can cause a fluid imbalance in the body and can cause the blood to become acidic in a manner that doesnt support life.
Medical treatments for these conditions include administering intravenous insulin on a continuous basis and IV fluids to correct dehydration.
High blood sugar can become a medical emergency. Go to the ER if you suspect DKA or HHS.
What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Gets Too High
High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia . It means that your blood sugar level is higher than your target level or over 180. Having high blood sugar levels over time can lead to long-term, serious health problems.
If you feel very tired, thirsty, have blurry vision, or need to pee more often, your blood sugar may be high.
Check your blood sugar and see if it is above your target level or over 180. If it is too high, one way to lower it is to drink a large glass of water and exercise by taking a brisk walk. Call your health care team if your blood sugar is high more than 3 times in 2 weeks and you dont know why.
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How Is Dka Treated
DKA is very serious, but it can be treated if you go to the doctor or hospital right away. To feel better, a person with DKA needs to get insulin and fluids through a tube that goes into a vein in the body .
Let your parents or someone on your diabetes health care team know if you have any of these symptoms or are sick and don’t know what to do to take care of your diabetes.
Always wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes. Then, if you are not feeling well, whoever’s helping you will know to call for medical help. Medical identification can also include your doctor’s phone number or a parent’s phone number.
Youre Developing Blisters Dryness Or Other Skin Changes
Small pieces of extra skin, called skin tags, may form in the creases of skin, especially if you have diabetes and youre trying to find ways to manage your weight, notes the ADA. Dark, thick areas of soft skin may form on the back of the neck or hands, armpits, face, or other areas. These can be a sign of insulin resistance, Zanini says. Blisters, infections, dryness, itchiness, discolorations, and abnormalities of the skin can all be warning signs of high blood sugar. Check with your doctor if these skin changes develop.
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What Is The A1c Test Measuring
There can be several reasons for a spike in blood sugar levels, and itâs a good idea to know whatâs causing yours. But first, itâs essential to understand what A1C is and what the A1C test measures.
Any sugar that enters your bloodstream attaches itself to your hemoglobin on your red blood cells. The A1C test measures the amount of glucose âstuckâ to the hemoglobin, which provides a good proxy of how much average blood glucose was in your bloodstream over a two to three-month period.
A simple way to remember how to read the results is: the higher the percentage, the higher the risk of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under 5.7% is a regular A1C reading. A reading between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered a pre-diabetic range, while values above 6.4% indicate diabetes.
Before you start overanalyzing your results, remember that there are variables at play. For example, the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that adults without a history of diabetes often have A1C levels at 6% or greater. This means not every higher test result is cause for concern. Still, itâs worth checking with a doctor if you see consistently high values. High A1C levels lead to impaired fasting glucose, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
How To Control Blood Sugar Atural
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What Level Of Blood Sugar Is Dangerous
Henceforth, we understood how high can blood sugar go before death. We have also discussed the highest levels recorded and survived. Furthermore, we need to be vigilant about what blood sugar level is dangerous.
WHO says, fasting blood sugar greater than 126 mg/dL , and blood sugar after having a meal of more than 200 mg/dL indicates Hyperglycaemia.
Similarly, a low level of blood sugar is dangerous too. Low blood sugar is called Hypoglycaemia. A blood sugar level less than 70 mg/dL also seeks medical help. However, blood sugar below 54 mg/dL can be fatal.
The Danger Of High Blood Sugar
Having a high blood sugar means there is too much sugar in the blood because the body is lacking in insulin. This can happen for many reasons, including not taking enough insulin exogenously, too little exercise, eating too much, or even stress, hormonal changes, or lack of sleep.
High blood sugar is dangerous, but its important to remember that high blood sugar is mostly dangerous over prolonged periods of time .
This means that, for the most part, your blood sugar at diagnosis will not cause long-term complications, and the spike you saw last week from eating an ice cream sundae wont impact you over the long term.
But chronic, prolonged high blood sugars will cause diabetes complications in most people.
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Test Before You Eat And Two Hours After
This will tell you how well your medication is controlling your blood sugar. It will also shed light on what food is boosting your sugar too highand thus should be avoided. You should consult your health-care provider to develop a plan that works for you, says Donna Rice, immediate past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, who notes that the frequency and time of day you test will depend on how controlled your blood glucose is.
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What Causes Blood Sugar To Be High
Many things can cause high blood sugar , including being sick, being stressed, eating more than planned, and not giving yourself enough insulin. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to long-term, serious health problems. Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Feeling very tired.
- Having blurry vision.
- Needing to urinate more often.
If you get sick, your blood sugar can be hard to manage. You may not be able to eat or drink as much as usual, which can affect blood sugar levels. If youre ill and your blood sugar is 240 mg/dL or above, use an over-the-counter ketone test kit to check your urine for ketones and call your doctor if your ketones are high. High ketones can be an early sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.
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What Are The Signs Of High And Low Blood Sugar
The symptoms vary depending on whether you have hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Find out how to spot the warning signs and stabilize your glucose.
One of the challenges of managing diabetes is maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. Even with diligence, some situations can cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, while others can bring on low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
After all, its not just carbohydrate intake that influences the amount of glucose coursing through your bloodstream when you have type 2 diabetes. Emotional stress and certain medications can increase your blood sugar levels, and a boost in activity can cause it to drop, says Megan ONeill, CDCES, a medical science liaison for diabetes care at Abbott healthcare company in Monterey, California. Sometimes people experience a spike in their blood sugar early in the morning due to the dawn effect, a temporary surge of hormones that occurs as the body prepares to wake, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For people with diabetes, managing blood glucose levels is especially important, ONeill says. Levels that are too low or high can result in complications that affect your kidneys, heart, and vision, reduce your quality of life, require expensive interventions, or even be fatal.
- Between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals
- Less than 180 mg/dL two hours after meals
The Causes Of High Blood Sugar
In general, higher than normal blood glucose levels can be caused by:
- not taking your diabetes medicine when youre supposed to or not taking the right amounts
- eating more food than your meal plan allows
- not getting enough exercise
- having an illness, like the flu
- taking other kinds of medicines that affect how your diabetes medicines work
Keeping blood sugar levels close to normal can be hard sometimes, and nobodys perfect. Grown-ups can help you stay in balance if you have diabetes. Sometimes blood sugar levels can be high because youre growing and your doctor needs to make some changes in your diabetes treatment plan.
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Youre Hungrier Than Usual But Losing Weight
Many people with uncontrolled high blood sugar find that theyre hungrier than usual, which signals a symptom called polyphagia, MedlinePlus notes. And although youre eating more, you may be losing weight for no apparent reason if your blood sugar levels are too high, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since your body is not getting energy from the preferred source, glucose, it has to turn to muscle and fat, Zanini explains. When your body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy, you experience unintentional and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to these changes in weight and appetite, you may notice weakness in your muscles and experience more frequent falls, Emanuele adds.
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How Long After Eating Does Blood Sugar Return To Normal
I get asked often how long after eating should blood sugar return to normal. Well, the simple answer to that question is blood sugar should return to normal within about 2 hours of eating.
Ideally, blood sugar should be back to normal values at 1 hour and half. That is if you are metabolically competent. Of course, if its taking longer, then your metabolic competence is being called to question.
To fully understand this, I have to explain how this whole blood sugar regulation shenanigan works when you eat. Brace yourself
Here we go
Your pancreas has some some cells scattered inside it called beta cells. These beta cells manufacture, store and release insulin when needed. You will always have some insulin in your blood circulation at any point in time in the 24 hours of the entire day.
You will never have zero insulin level at anytime. This is called Basal Insulin release.
When you eat, your pancreas is called into action straightaway. Eating causes a rise in blood sugar. A blood sugar rise is a clarion call for the beta cells of the pancreas to release insulin over and above the usual basal insulin release.
A blood sugar rise over 100 mg/dl, would trigger a release of the stored insulin to bring back the blood glucose to normal levels. This is called First Phase Insulin Release.
The 1st Phase Insulin Release is triggered within a couple of minutes of commencing your meal.
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High Blood Sugar: Causes Complications And How To Lower Blood Sugar
Your body breaks down glucose for energy using the insulin produced by the pancreas. This is required for our bodies to function. Illness can have an impact on the way our pancreas functions. Read this to learn how high blood sugar can affect your health.
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Your body requires energy to function, and this energy comes from food. Specifically, your body breaks down glucose for energy using the insulin produced by the pancreas.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause impairment to this breakdown of sugar in the body, causing blood glucose levels to become irregular. When glucose is not broken down into energy, it can build up in the bloodstream and then becomes a health problem.
Your pancreas produces insulin, which breaks down glucose. With type 1 diabetes, the cells that produce insulin are mistakenly attacked by your immune system. As a result of this autoimmune condition, blood sugar levels can become dangerously high without intervention.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body no longer responds to insulin as well as it should and then also causes glucose to accumulate in the blood.
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When To Call A Professional
If you have type 1 diabetes and feel unwell, check your blood sugar levels often. Also test your urine for ketones. Call your doctor if you have:
- Unexplained nausea and vomiting with or without abdominal pain,
- Moderate or high levels of urine ketones, or
- Your blood sugar is high and you cant lower it by adjusting your insulin dose.
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Personalizing Your Diet Based On Blood Sugar Response
In addition to seeing your healthcare provider, there are steps you can take to reduce your blood sugar levels. If you check your blood sugar after meals and keep track of those measurements, along with the types and amounts of food you ate, you may be able to see which foods are problematic.
Although an increase in blood sugar is usually due to eating high-carb foods, all carbs are not the same when it comes to raising blood sugar. Because starchy foods digest down to glucose very quickly, some starchy foods may end up having a much greater impact on blood sugar than you might expect.
For instance, even though a banana tastes sweeter than a baked potato, the potato may actually have a bigger impact on blood sugar.13
Because high-carb foods have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels, it makes sense to reduce them, no matter what type of diet you follow. The American Diabetes made this point in a 2019 paper on nutrition for people with diabetes.14
Sometimes making gradual changes can work best. Our guide, Eating better: six steps down carb mountain, can help you lower your carb intake, one step at a time.
If youve been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, our guide to the best foods for diabetes can help you make choices that may reduce your need for blood sugar control medications.
If a food or beverage seems to be causing your blood sugar to rise too much, try leaving it out of your diet for a few days to see if you notice a difference.