Why Does Your Blood Sugar Rise
When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks down the sugars they contain into glucose. Your body can’t absorb most sugars without breaking them down first. Simple sugars such as refined sugar break down very quickly you absorb them rapidly into your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar. In healthy people, the levels don’t rise very high and they drop back to normal quickly. If you have diabetes, your levels after a meal will rise higher and stay high longer than levels in other people. This occurs because your pancreas either don’t release enough insulin, the hormone that helps cells absorb glucose, or because the cells don’t respond properly to insulin release.
How Can I Lower My Blood Sugar
If you suffer from high levels of blood sugar, you may be more likely to develop serious health conditions, such as infections, blood clotting, and the inability of cuts and wounds to heal. High sugar levels in the blood can also lead to conditions such as diabetes. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to lower blood sugar levels.
An easy way to lower blood sugar levels is to stay fit and healthy. Regular exercise not only helps lower blood sugar levels, but also helps fight infections. Staying active and taking regular exercise can also help with blood pressure problems. Exercise also helps control the body’s weight and regulate cholesterol levels.
This exercise does not need to be a grueling workout. Thirty minutes of exercise a day, even walking, will help to lower blood sugar levels. Walking to the store instead of taking the car is all that may be necessary to provide you with some much needed exercise. Any extra exercise, including working out in a gym, should be discussed with a doctor first if you have irregular blood sugar levels.
Blood Sugar Spike Causes
Blood sugar levels fluctuate all day long. When you eat food, particularly those foods that are high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, or pasta, your blood sugar will immediately begin to rise.
If your blood sugar is consistently high, you need to talk to your doctor about improving your diabetes management. Blood sugar rises when:
- youre not taking enough insulin
- your insulin isnt lasting as long as you think it is
- youre not taking your oral diabetes medication
- your medication dosage needs adjusting
- youre using expired insulin
- youre not following your nutritional plan
- you have an illness or infection
- youre using certain medications, like steroids
- youre under physical stress, such as an injury or surgery
- youre under emotional stress, such as trouble at work or home or with money problems
If your blood sugar is usually well-controlled, but youre experiencing unexplained blood sugar spikes, there might be a more acute cause.
Try keeping a record of all the food and drinks you consume. Check your blood sugar levels according to your doctors recommendations.
Its common to record your blood sugar reading first thing in the morning, before youve eaten, and then again two hours after eating. Even a few days of recorded information can help you and your doctor discover whats causing your blood sugar spikes.
Common culprits include:
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Broccoli Or Broccoli Sprouts
Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane can help lower blood sugar by increasing glucose uptake from the bloodstream by regulating signaling proteins that control liver cells and their response to insulin.
Liver cells produce ceramides, fatty lipid molecules that can cause insulin resistance. Sulforaphane has been shown to block an enzyme involved in the synthesis of ceramides. By inhibiting this gene, sulforaphane can decrease ceramide levels and improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance. When insulin sensitivity is increased, the body has an improved ability to release insulin when blood sugar is high to bring levels back down.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also contain glucosinolates, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds that can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose levels in the blood.
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Improving Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
If a person does not have perfect fasting blood sugar levels, yet the levels are not quite high enough to be considered diabetes, they should take it as an opportunity to improve their health and achieve average blood glucose levels prior to developing type 2 diabetes. Usually, high blood sugar levels have to do with a poor diet, but even more often they have to do with a person’s lack of exercise and physical activity.
A number of medical studies have shown a dramatic relationship between elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in people who are not very active on a daily or regular basis. Many of the same studies have also shown that the most efficient way of improving insulin resistance is to increase the amount of physical activity. Doing so helps a person to achieve weight loss, increase blood flow and circulation, as well as lower blood sugar levels.
What You Can Drink With Meals
Add a low-calorie, low-sugar drink or choose water. Proper hydration is essential to helping your body remove excess sugar.
Some drinks that are good for keeping your blood sugar level low include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Unsweetened coffee
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Flavored water or sparkling water without added sugar
- Diet soda or other diet drinks
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Beware Of Low Blood Sugars
Remember, above all else, its very easy to over-treat a high blood sugar and wind up low. Then youll be tempted to binge-eat and wind up high again. This blood sugar roller coaster is exhausting and dangerous, too.
Frequently finding yourself on the blood sugar roller coaster means your approach to taking insulin and/or how you treat low blood sugars isnt working and needs some fine-tuning. Work with your healthcare team to reduce and prevent these wild swings to ensure your overall safety and quality of life!
Just Ate Too Much The Night Before
If you had a late night high carb snack, then it is possible that your fasting blood glucose is high simply due to poor food choices in the presence of insulin resistance. As well, a large late night dinner high in fat can delay digestion and absorption of the carb content of the meal enough so that your post-meal rise in BG is going like gangbusters around the time the Dawn Phenomenon is kicking in.
Need help controlling carbs at meals? You can start with a typical goal of 30-45 grams of total carbs/meal if you are an adult woman or 45-60 grams/meal if you are an adult man. Try limiting your bedtime snack to 11- 20 grams total carbs. Discuss personalized meal and snack goals with your healthcare provider. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor for a referral to a Certified Diabetes Educator . This type of specialist is trained to help patients manage all aspects of their diabetes care including how to lower morning blood sugar.
Originally published on Dec 4, 2012,Updated: Updated: Jan 17, 2020
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Hyperglycemia And Immune Function
The association of hyperglycemia and infection has long been recognized, although the overall magnitude of the problem is still somewhat unclear . From a mechanistic point of view, the primary problem has been identified as phagocyte dysfunction. Studies have reported diverse defects in neutrophil and monocyte function, including adherence, chemotaxis, phagocytosis, bacterial killing, and respiratory burst . Bagdade et al. were among the first to attach a glucose value to improvement in granulocyte function when they demonstrated significant improvement in granulocyte adherence as the mean fasting blood glucose was reduced from 293 Â± 20 to 198 Â± 29 mg/dl in 10 poorly controlled patients with diabetes. Other investigators have demonstrated similar improvements in leukocyte function with treatment of hyperglycemia . In vitro trials attempting to define hyperglycemic thresholds found only rough estimates that a mean glucose > 200 mg/dl causes leukocyte dysfunction .
Laboratory evidence of the effect of hyperglycemia on the immune system goes beyond the granulocyte. Nonenzymatic glycation of immunoglobulins has been reported . Normal individuals exposed to transient glucose elevation show rapid reduction in lymphocytes, including all lymphocyte subsets . In patients with diabetes, hyperglycemia is similarly associated with reduced T-cell populations for both CD-4 and CD-8 subsets. These abnormalities are reversed when glucose is lowered .
What To Eat To Better Regulate Your Blood Sugar
Dr. Danielle Weiss is the founder of Center for Hormonal Health and Well-Being, a personalized, proactive, patient-centered medical practice with a unique focus on integrative endocrinology. She enjoys giving lectures and writing articles for both the lay public and medical audiences. Dr. Weiss is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
While high blood sugar is the characteristic symptom of diabetes, your blood sugar can also be high even if you dont have the condition. To avoid making high blood sugar worse, it is important to make good dietary choices and choose foods that can help you regulate your blood sugar.
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What Are Normal Blood Glucose Levels
Your blood glucose, or blood sugar, is the main sugar found in your blood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Blood glucose comes from food and provides your body with energy. Your levels may rise and fall throughout the day, depending on what and when you eat.
Normal blood glucose levels, regardless of gender, are between 70 and 99 milligrams per deciliter if the test is taken fasted, according to Virginia Mason Medical Center. Two hours after eating, a normal blood sugar level is anything below 140 mg/dL.
Average Blood Sugar Levels
|140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating|
|180 mg/dL 1 hour after drinking glucose|
|155 mg/dL 2 hours after drinking glucose|
|140 mg/dL 3 hours after drinking glucose|
|95 mg/dL after fasting for glucose-tolerance test for pregnant women|
The results of blood sugar tests vary by testing method and lab but generally doctors consider a fasting blood sugar of up to 100 mg/dL to be within the average range. From blood drawn 2 hours after a person eats, doctors consider a level of up to 140 mg/dL to be average. In a glucose-tolerance test for pregnant women, a level of 95 mg/dL after fasting is considered to be the, ‘target,’ level. A doctor who is concerned might order additional testing at 1,2 and 3 hours after a person drinks glucose. The target levels for those tests are 180 mg/dL, 155 mg/dL and 140 mg/dL. Gestational diabetes is indicated if 2 or more of the 4 levels equal or go over the desired target level.
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High Blood Sugar Levels
‘Hyperglycemia,’ or high fasting blood sugar levels of between 100-150 mg/dL, might indicate pre-diabetes and levels above this range may indicate diabetes. A number of other conditions may cause hyperglycemia too, including:
Hyperglycemia may also be the result of excessive over-eating or taking some prescription medications.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
Like the fasting plasma glucose test, the oral glucose tolerance test also requires you to fast overnight. When you arrive at your appointment, youll take a fasting blood sugar test. Then youll drink a sugary liquid. After youre done, your doctor will test your blood sugar levels periodically for several hours.
To prepare for this test, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that you eat at least 150 grams of carbohydrates per day for the three days leading up to the test. Foods like bread, cereal, pasta, potatoes, fruit , and clear broth all contain carbohydrates.
Tell your doctor about any stress or illness youre experiencing. Make sure your doctor knows about all of the medications youre taking. Stress, illness, and medications can all affect the results of the oral glucose tolerance test.
Your doctor will go over your results with you. For an oral glucose tolerance test, heres what your results could mean:
- blood sugar of 200 mg/dL or more after two hours = diabetes
- blood sugar between 140 and 199 mg/dL after two hours = prediabetes
- blood sugar less than 140 mg/dL after two hours = normal
Glucose tolerance tests are also used to diagnose gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
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Normal Postmeal Blood Sugar Levels
Checking your blood glucose one to two hours after eating can help you understand how your blood sugar reacts to the food you consume. It can also offer insight into whether you’re taking the right dose of insulin or if you need to follow up with your doctor to discuss medication and diet or lifestyle adjustments.
There are two ways you can measure your blood glucose levels: by pricking your fingertip using a glucometer or by using continuous glucose monitoring. How often you should check your glucose levels varies from a few times per week to four to six times each day. As a general rule, the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood sugar below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after eating.
However, your target blood sugar range will depend on the following:
- Duration of diabetes
Preventing High Blood Sugars
Everyone with diabetes experiences high blood sugars sometimes there are simply too many variables in the human body out of your control to prevent them altogether.
That being said, there are a few guidelines we can all follow to minimize the frequency of high blood sugars:
- Avoid full-sugar beverages including soda, juice, coffee drinks, iced tea, etc.
- Choose your carbohydrates carefully starchy carbs from pasta, candy, bread, desserts, etc. will spike your blood sugar the most
- Take your medications as prescribed and contact your healthcare team if you miss a dose to determine if you can take it late
- Exercise daily even a 20-minute walk makes a big difference on a daily basis
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
And of course, if youre experiencing high blood sugars are a daily basis and youre unsure of the cause, talk to your healthcare team about making adjustments in your diabetes management regimen. A slight increase in your medications can have a big impact!
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High Blood Sugar Prevention
- Learn about managing diabetes.
- Work with a certified diabetes educator. This person will have a CDE certification and may work in a diabetes education center or hospital.
- Check blood sugar as directed by a CDE and doctor or nurse.
- Know the symptoms and act quickly before blood sugars get out of control.
- Follow a diabetes diet plan. Adjust the plan as needed.
- Take medications for diabetes as directed by your healthcare professional.
- Exercise daily.
A High Sugar Level After A Meal
It’s normal for your blood sugar level to rise after you eat, especially if you eat a meal high in refined carbohydrates. But if your blood sugar rises more than most people’s, you might have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition that indicates a strong risk for developing diabetes in the future. If you already have diabetes, you doctor will recommend keeping your blood sugar within a prescribed range. A glucose tolerance test, done one to three hours after you eat a high-carbohydrate meal, can check your blood sugar levels.
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Why Are Blood Sugar Levels Important
Measuring blood sugar levels and understanding what your glucose levels should be is an essential part of diabetes treatment for many people with diabetes.
Blood sugar level refers to the total amount of glucose circulating in the blood. In different parts of the world, different units for measuring blood glucose are standard.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Diabetes
For Type 1 diabetics, you need to take daily insulin treatments and regularly monitor your blood glucose levels at home.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Singh may first recommend making necessary lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. If these therapies arent effective, she may recommend an oral medication to control blood sugar.
Schedule an appointment online or by phone with Hackensack Primary Care to learn more about managing diabetes.
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Can I Change The Units Given By My Blood Glucose Meter
This can depend on which blood glucose meter you have. Some meters allow you to change the units from mg/dL to mmol/L and vice versa whether some meters are only set up to display one set of units.
Check the meters manual for whether it is possible to change the units. If you dont have or cannot find the manual, contact the manufacturer.