Importance Of Diet In Diabetes
Much of the food you eat is broken down into sugar , which gets released into the bloodstream. When blood sugar increases, the pancreas, an organ responsible for digestion and blood sugar regulation, releases the hormone insulin. Insulin then helps cells absorb the sugar to be used for energy or stored.
In diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to enable the cells to absorb enough sugar from the blood. Or the body might have enough insulin, but the cells do not respond to it. In both cases, this leads to there being too much sugar in the blood, which, over time can lead to serious health issues, such as vision loss, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Reducing sugar and other simple carbohydrates in your diet plays an important role in keeping blood sugar levels down, which can slow the progression of the disease and stave off such complications.
How To Lower Blood Sugar Naturally
Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the main sugar in your blood and your bodys main source of energy. Blood sugars vary all day. A normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dl. Blood sugars anytime of day regardless of when or what the last meal was should always be under 200 mg/dl. Blood sugars exceeding these two levels could signal prediabetes or Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot produce enough insulin or use insulin properly to correct blood sugars to safe levels.
Stick To An Eating Schedule
Dr. Kara warns against skipping meals frequently to avoid the rollercoaster of high to low blood sugar surges and dips. Spreading your meals out throughout the day, rather than eating a large breakfast or large dinner can help to regulate blood sugar. Eating regularly from morning through evening is the best strategy.
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Dont Give Yourself A Hard Time
And the flipside of focusing on the positives of these new changes is to not give yourself a hard time, or expect to be perfect. Its very rare to quit eating meat and added sugar, and integrate an entirely new system of eating and exercising all at once.
You might have nights where you splurge, or weeks where youre busy and might not be able to exercise. Family life, work, and vacations get in the way.
The important thing is to focus on the long term effect. Are you moving in the right direction in general? If so, dont give yourself a hard time.
How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugar
The number of times that you check your blood sugar will depend on the type of diabetes that you have and the type of medicine you take to treat your diabetes. For example, people who take insulin may need to check more often than people who do not take insulin. Talk with your health care team about how often to check your blood sugar.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up , before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime. Talk with your health care team about what times are best for you to check your blood sugar.
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Ensure A Good Nights Sleep
Never underestimate the power of a good nights sleep. A single night of inadequate sleep makes our body react in a manner similar to insulin resistance. It can lead to raised blood sugar levels. A good nights sleep can improve glucose metabolism. It will also keep you motivated to follow through with your diet and exercise routine.
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People suffering from diabetes dont need to remove sugar from their diet altogether, experts say. You probably know that diabetes occurs when the body struggles to manage blood sugar or glucose adequately, but that doesnt mean it becomes a forbidden element.
The following text is based on information by Diabetes UK, a major British charity focusing on diabetes, its prevention and treatment. It does not, however, constitute any form of medical advice, so you should not rely on it as a substitute for actual diagnosis or guidance by your doctor. Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you may be suffering from diabetes or already received a diagnosis and think your treatment needs adjusting. Consult with them before making any major changes to your diet, and never assume your self-worth is based on what you eat or how your body looks.
As Diabetes UK explains, pointing at sugar as the single culprit of diabetes is inaccurate or complicated at best, as it depends on many other factors. There are two types of diabetes, and we know for certain that type 1 is not caused by sugar. Whatever the reason, still to be unearthed, you may find relief in knowing nothing in your lifestyle causes this condition. Type 1 occurs when your body destroys the cells in your pancreas in charge of insulin production. So no, sugar is not to blame here.
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When To Get Urgent Medical Attention
Contact your diabetes care team immediately if you have a high blood sugar level and experience the following symptoms:
- feeling or being sick
- a fever for more than 24 hours
- signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dry skin and a weak, rapid heartbeat
- difficulty staying awake
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious complication of hyperglycaemia, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, and you may need to be looked after in hospital.
How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drug store or by mail.
Read the directions that come with your meter to learn how to check your blood sugar. Your health care team also can show you how to use your meter. Write the date, time, and result of the test in your blood sugar record. Take your blood sugar record and meter to each visit and talk about your results with your health care team.
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When To Avoid Exercise
People with blood sugar levels above 240 mg/dL should check their urine for ketones before engaging in physical activity. If ketones are present, do not exercise. Ketones are the result of stored fat being broken down for energy. Your liver starts breaking down fat when theres not enough insulin in your bloodstream to absorb blood sugar into cells. When too many ketones are quickly produced, they can cause DKA. In this state, ketones may actually make your blood sugar level go even higher and you may need intravenous fluids to rebalance.
Techniques To Manage Your Blood Sugar In The Morning
Based on your glucose levels and trends, there are a few things you can do to manage your glucose levels so they dont run high in the morning. Some of these strategies focus on adjusting medications to better suit your needs. Other strategies include adjusting your exercise routine, as well as what and when you are eating before bed.
If your glucose levels are in range before bed, they may rise throughout the night without enough insulin. This can be especially true for people who take long-acting insulin in the morning, since it may be wearing off before your next dose.
Consider changing the time of day when you take your long-acting insulin. You may also benefit from switching to either twice-daily basal insulin or ultra-long-acting insulin, or from starting on an insulin pump. Read our article, Are You on the Right Kind of Insulin, to learn more.
Check your blood glucose during the night between 3 am and 8 am. If you are running high during these hours, you may be experiencing the dawn phenomenon.
Talk with your healthcare team about finding the best nighttime insulin regimen for you. If you take basal insulin, you may need to delay the timing of your dose to as close to bedtime as possible. Another option is to try an insulin pump or automated insulin delivery system. AID systems will automatically adjust your basal insulin doses throughout the night to help keep your glucose levels stable.
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Get A Handle On Stress
When youre stressed out, your blood sugar tends to rise, Crandall Snyder says. According to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California in San Francisco, when youre stressed, insulin levels fall, certain hormones rise, and more glucose is released from the liver, which ends up in the blood stream and can cause disruptions for up to eight hours.
How can you burn off tension? Yoga and meditation can help people lower their blood sugar levels, Weisenberger says. A December 2014 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science involving 27 nursing students and found a combination of yoga and meditation practiced for one hour once a week led to reduced levels of stress and lower blood glucose levels after 12 weeks.
Crandall Snyder also suggests taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, playing with your dog for a few minutes, or listening to a fun song. Basically whatever you can do to distract yourself for a few minutes and just lower your breathing rate will help, she says. Indeed, the CDC notes that less water in your body is liked with a higher blood sugar concentration.
Ways To Lower A1c And Manage Your Blood
An A1C test measures the amount of glucose in your blood over the previous 12 weeks. This is important because it provides a long-term measure of blood-sugar levels, which are used to diagnose and manage diabetes or prediabetes.
Those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should have their A1C levels measured about every three months. If youre at an increased risk, you should have A1C measured twice a year, says Dr. Charles Richardson, the CEO of Cleveland Diabetes Care.
Through an A1C test, early detection of elevated blood-sugar levels can help reduce the risk of health complications from diabetes, like heart disease or kidney disease. Heres what you need to know about A1C levels and how to lower them.
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S To Take In An Emergency
If your symptoms persist or worsen, immediately seek out medical attention. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to more serious conditions like diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state , or a diabetic coma.
Fortunately, if caught quickly, a spike in your blood glucose tends to be easily treated by medical professionals.
Caution: Birth Control Pills
Estrogen in birth control pills can affect the way a person with diabetes may respond to insulin. The American Diabetes Association advises women with diabetes to use a birth control pill containing norgestimate and a synthetic estrogen. The ADA also says birth control injections and implants are safe for women with diabetes, but suggests they still have some effect on blood sugars. If women elect to use these birth control methods, they should monitor their blood sugar levels, especially for several weeks when these agents are first administered. Women with diabetes should discuss their birth control options with their doctor.
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Avoid Eating Large Meals
One way to keep carbs under control is by eating in moderation. I always tell my patients to spread their food out over the day, Weisenberger says. Dont eat small meals to save up for a big dinner. Feeding your body throughout the day helps regulate your blood sugar levels and prevents highs and lows, Crandall Snyder says.
Both Weisenberger and Crandall Snyder say to keep an eye on carbs, even while snacking. Classically, less than 15 g of carbs per snack is a good standard approach, Crandall Snyder says. Thats about whats found in 1 cup of fruit, she says.
What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Gets Too Low
Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia . It means your blood sugar level drops below 70. Having low blood sugar is dangerous and needs to be treated right away. Anyone with diabetes can have low blood sugar. You have a greater chance of having low blood sugar if you take insulin or certain pills for diabetes.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry, check your blood sugar. Even if you feel none of these things, but think you may have low blood sugar, check it.
If your meter shows that your blood sugar is lower than 70, do one of the following things right away:
- chew 4 glucose tablets
- drink 4 ounces of fruit juice
- drink 4 ounces of regular soda, not diet soda or
- chew 4 pieces of hard candy
After taking one of these treatments, wait for 15 minutes, then check your blood sugar again. Repeat these steps until your blood sugar is 70 or above. After your blood sugar gets back up to 70 or more, eat a snack if your next meal is 1 hour or more away.
If you often have low blood sugar, check your blood sugar before driving and treat it if it is low.
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When To Call For Medical Advice
It is important to note that very high blood glucose levels can be dangerous and it is important to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors of the following conditions:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis a short term complication most commonly associated with type 1 diabetes
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State a short term complication most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes
If you are struggling to keep your blood glucose levels under control, speak to your GP or consultant who can advise you or refer you onto a diabetes education course.
Understanding Your Blood Sugar And Exercise
The effect physical activity has on your blood sugar will vary depending on how long you are active and many other factors. Physical activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin.
Become familiar with how your blood sugar responds to exercise. Checking your blood sugar level more often before and after exercise can help you see the benefits of activity. You also can use the results of your blood sugar checks to see how your body reacts to different activities. Understanding these patterns can help you prevent your blood sugar from going too high or too low.
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How To Lower Blood Sugar
High blood glucose can happen for many reasons.
It is most persistent as a problem for people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as others with insulin resistance or other forms of diabetes mellitus.
However, high blood glucose can also happen as a result of other factors like:
- Stressful situations
- A lack of exercise
- Actively fighting a cold or flu
If you have diabetes, dealing with high blood glucose can be frustrating, and part of a larger plan to improve your overall health. However, even if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood glucose can be a warning sign of future chronic disease.
In this article, well discuss how to identify a blood sugar spike, and some warning signs on how to tell if your hyperglycemia needs immediate, emergency intervention.
Then, well touch on the most effective, evidence-based strategies to lower your blood glucose through simple lifestyle changes, and some daily tips to help make them happen.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Drinking water helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar through your urine. One study found that people who drank more water had a lower risk of developing hyperglycemia .
Can’t seem to drink enough? Or is water is just too plain for your taste buds? Try this R.D.’s go-to hydration strategies.
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Treatment For High Ketone Levels
Treating high ketone levels can immediately help you avoid hospitalization for DKA. Work with your doctor to decide what you need to do to help manage moderate ketone levels. If youre unable to treat at home or if your levels continue to rise, youll need to receive medical treatment. Treatments can include:
Why Do I Need To Know My Blood Sugar Numbers
Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is managed. And managing your diabetes means that you have less chance of having serious health problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss.
As you check your blood sugar, you can see what makes your numbers go up and down. For example, you may see that when you are stressed or eat certain foods, your numbers go up. And, you may see that when you take your medicine and are active, your numbers go down. This information lets you know what is working for you and what needs to change.
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Exercise To Lower Blood Sugar Fast
Regular exercise improves and increases your sensitivity to insulin. This means the cells in your body can better absorb and use the glucose in your body to make energy.
When your muscles contract during movement, glucose is the preferred source of fuel. Thatâs why when your glucose spikes after eating a sugary treat or a large meal with lots of high-glycemic foods, you can bring your glucose back down to a normal range if you exercise within 30-60 minutes after eating.
Any type and duration of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity and helps stabilize your glucose afterward.
That said, if youâre fit enough and able to handle high intensity, short bursts of movement performed at 80% of your max effort can burn up to four times the amount of glucose compared to what youâd burn slumping on the couch.
If you want short and sweaty to bring down your blood sugar quickly, follow along with our 10-minute full-body or dumbbell leg workout. These get-âer-done-fast efforts combine strength training with cardio in a circuit-style workout that stabilizes glucose in less time.