The Cause Of Diabetes
Diabetes is an illness related to elevated blood sugar levels. When you stop releasing and responding to normal amounts of insulin after eating foods with carbohydrates, sugar and fats, you have diabetes. Insulin, a hormone thats broken down and transported to cells to be used as energy, is released by the pancreas to help with the storage of sugar and fats. But people with diabetes dont respond to insulin properly, which causes high blood sugar levels and diabetes symptoms.
Its important to note that theres a difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Heres an explanation of the two types of diabetes and what causes these conditions:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is commonly called juvenile diabetes because it tends to develop at a younger age, typically before a person turns 20 years old. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
The damage to the pancreatic cells leads to a reduced ability or complete inability to create insulin. Some of the common causes that trigger this autoimmune response may include a virus, genetically modified organisms, heavy metals, or foods like wheat, cows milk and soy.
The reason foods like wheat and cows milk have been linked to diabetes is because they contain the proteins gluten and A1 casein. These proteins can cause leaky gut, which in turn causes systemic inflammation throughout the body and over time can lead to autoimmune disease.
What Is Blood Sugar
Glucose, a simple sugar, is the bodys main energy source.
And your blood sugar levels, or blood glucose, is simply a measurement of much glucose you have in your blood!
Generally speaking, most of the glucose floating around in your bloodstream comes from eating carbohydrate-rich food like potatoes, rice, fruits, sugar, and so on:
Your blood then delivers the glucose to your muscles, brain, liver, kidneys, etc, so they can burn it as fuel and produce energy.
Kind of like how Uber Eats drivers deliver pizza to hungry lazy people!
The body likes to keep blood glucose levels it in a relatively tight range not too high and not too low.
Were not going to go too deep into the mechanisms of blood sugar regulation today, but it is managed by different hormones such as insulin , and glucagon and adrenaline and cortisol .
You can study this picture for a more detailed explanation:
Eat The Right Carbohydrates
The two main kinds of carbohydrates simple and complex affect blood sugar levels differently.
Simple carbohydrates are mainly made up of one kind of sugar. They are found in foods, such as white bread, pasta, and candy. The body breaks these carbohydrates down into sugar very quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that are linked together. Because the chemical makeup of these kinds of carbohydrates is complicated, it takes the body longer to break them down.
As a result, sugar is released into the body more gradually, meaning that blood sugar levels do not rapidly rise after eating them. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain oats and sweet potatoes.
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Treating Low Blood Glucose If You Take Medicines That Slow Down Digestion
Some diabetes medicines slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels from rising too high after you eat. If you develop low blood glucose while taking these medicines, you will need to take glucose tablets or glucose gel right away. Eating or drinking other sources of carbohydrates wont raise your blood glucose level quickly enough.
The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose
At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.
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Reversing A Sugar Crash
When your blood sugar crashes, you can quickly bring it back up to normal. You need a rapidly absorbing form of carbohydrate, also known as a simple carb. Eating 15 to 30 grams of fast-digesting carbs is often enough to quickly reverse a sugar crash.
These each represent 15 grams of simple carbohydrates: half a banana 1/2 cup of apple sauce 1/2 cup of apple, orange or pineapple juice six large jelly beans or five small gum drops.
A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
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Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chance of getting a low blood sugar level if you:
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms of a low blood sugar level so you can treat it quickly.
- Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets. If you have a glucagon injection kit, always keep it with you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your blood sugar level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
- Be careful when exercising eating a carbohydrate snack before exercise can help to reduce the risk of a hypo. If you take some types of diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
- Have a carbohydrate snack, such as toast, if your blood sugar level drops too low while you’re asleep
If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk to your diabetes care team about things you can do to help prevent it.
Whats Considered Normal Blood Sugar
What doctors consider to be normal blood sugar depends on your medical history and when the last times you ate something and exercised were. Blood sugar is measured in terms of milligrams of sugar per dL of blood, and measurements are most often taken in the morning after youve been fasting through the night.
The following blood sugar measurements are considered healthy and normal according to health authorities, including the American Diabetes Association:
- If youre generally healthy and you havent eaten anything in the past eight hours , its normal for blood sugar to be anything between 7099 mg/dL .
- If youre healthy and youve eaten within the past two hours, its normal for blood sugar to be anything less than 140 mg/dL.
- If you do have a history of diabetes, fasting glucose should ideally also be below 100 mg/DL, which might need to be managed through the use of insulin. Its also considered healthy to have levels between 70130 prior to eating.
- If you have diabetes and youve eaten in the past two hours, the goal is to have blood sugar below 180 mg/dL.
- If you have diabetes, you want to keep blood sugar between 100140 mg/dL prior to bedtime and at least 100 mg/dL prior to exercising.
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What Do Sugar Headaches Feel Like
For the most part, sugar headaches feel like normal headaches. There are a few clues, however, that can help you identify if its a sugar headache or not.
- Hyperglycemia headaches, for example, dont show up right away. Usually, people hang out with high blood sugar for a few days before the body starts putting out pain signals.
- Hypoglycemia headaches appear more swiftly and are often accompanied by other fun symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.
If you have recurring sugar headaches, you may want to schedule a doctors appointment. Consistently irregular blood sugar levels could be a sign of diabetes, which can be fatal if untreated.
In very rare cases, consistent sugar headaches are a sign of ketoacidosis, a complication most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes. In a nutshell ketoacidosis occurs when someone has high blood sugar and high ketone levels at the same time .
Odds are your sugar headaches are just the result of an off day of eating. If you keep an eye on your symptoms and eating habits, you should be able to kick those headaches to the curb.
Be Careful To Balance Protein With Carbs
Many do not know this, butprotein is actually highly insulinogenic and can drop your blood sugar like a rock!
Some people are more sensitive to this than others. Eating protein in isolation, or too much protein relative to carbohydrate, can cause hypoglycemia and trigger stress hormones.
Make sure to eat at least 2x as many carbs as protein in a single meal.
So in meal with lets say 200 g lean beef you would also want to eat at least 80 g of carbs.
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Limit Items With High Sugar Content In The House
If you keep high sugar foods in the house, you may be more likely to eat them. It takes a lot of willpower to stop yourself if you only have to go as far as the pantry or fridge to get a sugar hit.
However, if you live with others it can be hard to keep certain foods out of the house so you may want to have a plan in place for when sugar cravings strike. Studies have shown that distractions, such as doing puzzles, can be very effective at reducing cravings .
If that doesnt work, then try to keep some healthy low sugar snacks in the house to munch on instead.
Switch To Natural Zero
There are several artificial sweeteners on the market that are totally free of sugar and calories, such as sucralose and aspartame.
However, these artificial sweeteners may be linked to imbalances in gut bacteria that can lead to poorer blood sugar control, increased food cravings, and weight gain. For this reason, it may be best to avoid artificial sweeteners too (
They are all naturally derived, although they do go through some processing before they arrive at your local grocery store. Still, research on these sugar alternatives is ongoing.
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How To Stop Anxiety From Low Blood Sugar
Did you know that low blood sugar can trigger both anxiety and depression?
I dont think this gets talked about nearly enough
Today we will look at why keeping your blood sugar levels stable is SO important for reducing anxiety, and a couple strategies on how to prevent hypoglycemia-induced anxiety and panic attacks!
High Blood Sugar Causes
Sometimes the cause of a blood sugar spike is clear . But other times, the cause is a little more mysterious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing sleep, skipping breakfast, not drinking enough water, or drinking coffee can cause blood sugar instability.
Even weirder, sometimes a sunburn can cause a spike! The pain of a burn causes stress, and high levels of stress can mess up your blood sugar. So bust out the sunscreen for the sake of your pancreas!
Other causes include eating high-sugar/high-carb foods, drinking alcohol, getting sick, and changing medication. A diet low in fiber and high in refined carbs or sugars and a sedentary lifestyle also make high blood sugar more likely.
So, what can you do when your blood sugar gets too high? Here are some natural ways to get your sugar back into a safe zone.
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Easy Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is associated with diabetes and prediabetes. Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Your body usually manages your blood sugar levels by producing insulin, a hormone that allows your cells to use the circulating sugar in your blood. As such, insulin is the most important regulator of blood sugar levels .
However, multiple factors can impair blood sugar management and lead to hyperglycemia.
Internal causes for high blood sugar include when your liver produces too much glucose, your body makes too little insulin, or your body cant effectively use insulin. The latter is known as insulin resistance (
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes and that another 34.5% have prediabetes. This means that close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes .
Blood sugar management is especially important for people with diabetes, as chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to limb and life threatening complications (
Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells can more effectively use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction .
Whats more, researchers recommend doing so-called exercise snacks to lower blood sugar and prevent the damage that sitting all day can do .
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
The only way to know if you have hypoglycemia is to check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter. Its a small machine that measures blood sugar. Most of these devices use a tiny prick of the finger to take a small amount of blood.
People with hypoglycemia unawareness may need a continuous glucose monitor. These wearable devices measure glucose every few minutes, day and night. An alarm sounds if blood sugar drops too low.
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Ways To Treat Low Blood Sugar
There are many ways I have treated a low blood glucose over the 10 plus years I have lived with type 1 diabetes, and Ive determined how quickly my body reacts to particular items. Depending on my low, I use a different item to treat it, but always aim for 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrates. For example, if my blood sugar is beginning to trend low, then I will treat with candy, but if my blood sugar is already low , I will treat with juice. However, I always try to be prepared and have either candy, juice, or glucose tabs with me at all times.
Below are five different ways I treat a low blood sugar.
1. Hard Candy
When I receive a Low Predicted Alert from my MiniMed 530G that my blood sugar is beginning to trend low, I will grab hard candy, such as a bag of Skittles, and eat about 15 pieces. Over my 10+ years of living with type 1 diabetes, I have been able to estimate the amount of Skittles needed to raise my blood sugar to my desired levels. I prefer using hard candy to help treat a low because they are easy to carry and store. For example, my wife always carries a small ziplock bag full of them in her purse. That way, no matter where we are, if a low blood sugar hits, I am prepared. I also take a small bag with me whenever I travel, golf, attend meetings, etc.
4. Glucose Tabs
5. Glucose Gel Packs
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Please visit MedtronicDiabetes.com/isi for more details.
What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as
- how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
- medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
- educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes
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The Liver Both Stores And Produces Sugar
The liver acts as the bodys glucose reservoir, and helps to keep your circulating blood sugar levels and other body fuels steady and constant. The liver both stores and manufactures glucose depending upon the bodys need. The need to store or release glucose is primarily signaled by the hormones insulin and glucagon.
During a meal, your liver will store sugar, or glucose, as glycogen for a later time when your body needs it. The high levels of insulin and suppressed levels of glucagon during a meal promote the storage of glucose as glycogen.
How Can I Be Better Prepared For Hypoglycemia
You can take some steps to be ready for hypoglycemia:
- Be aware of the symptoms and treat them early.
- Carry some fast-acting carbs with you all the time.
- Check your glucose levels frequently, especially around meals and exercise.
- Inform family, friends and co-workers so they know what do if you need help.
- Talk to your healthcare provider regularly to make and update your plan.
- Wear a medical bracelet that lets people know you have diabetes. Carry a card in your purse or wallet with instructions for hypoglycemia.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hypoglycemia is quite common in people with diabetes. If not treated, it can cause troubling symptoms, and even serious health problems. Fortunately, you can avoid hypoglycemic episodes by monitoring your blood sugar. You can also make small adjustments to eating and exercising routines.
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