Sweet On The Sweet Stuff
You drink a flavored latte. One moment youre wired the next, youre making a beeline to the couch. What gives? Youve just downed too much sugar. Your body goes on a physical and emotional roller coaster after having too much of the sweet stuff. The minute you put a sweet in your mouth, you get a surge of dopamine, a feel-good hormone with addictive properties, says Amanda Bontempo, RD, a nutritionist at NYU Langones Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center. But the high doesnt last.
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In This Article Well Take A Closer Look At What Foods Can Help Lower Blood Sugar Both Immediately And Over Time
While there isnât one food that will magically protect your body from developing diabetes, there are some foods that research has proven can help promote healthy blood sugar levels over time. Keep reading to learn what foods help lower blood sugars, and which foods to eat in the moment when your blood sugar is higher than youâd like.
*This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. This article and the links contained in it provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical care. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or registered dietitian.*
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What To Eat And Drink To Lower Blood Sugar
If you have been told by your doctor that you have diabetes or prediabetes, or even if you are just concerned about developing diabetes in the future, you should think about your diet as a key element in keeping your blood sugar level. . Unfortunately, there are no foods that actually lower your blood sugar, but there are foods that do not spike your blood sugar quickly. Think about high fiber foods, carbohydrates that do not come from refined sugars, and carbohydrates that are slowly digested by your body, like those that come from vegetables and whole grains.
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms.
When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up in your body and cause diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. DKA is very serious and can cause a coma or even death. Common symptoms of DKA include:
- Fast, deep breathing.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
If you think you may have DKA, test your urine for ketones. Follow the test kit directions, checking the color of the test strip against the color chart in the kit to see your ketone level. If your ketones are high, . DKA requires treatment in a hospital.
DKA happens most in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign of type 1 in people who havent yet been diagnosed. People with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but its less common.
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Problems Associated With High Blood Sugar
Frequent high blood pressure puts patients at risk of diabetes complications that can be potentially serious. Even when blood sugar does not reach acutely dangerous levels, complications can develop over time if blood sugar is consistently above a patients target range. Serious conditions and complications associated with high blood glucose include:
- Damage to the blood vessels of the eyes
- Nerve damage in the feet and hands
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of heart problems like heart disease
Depending on the type of diabetes a patient has, there are two different extreme forms of hyperglycemia as well. Ketoacidosis is severe hyperglycemia that impacts people with type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body runs out of glucose and begins to use ketones, a type of toxic acid, for energy. Ketoacidosis can lead to diabetic coma or even death, and it is extremely serious. Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome is a severe form of hyperglycemia that impacts people with Type 2 diabetes. It occurs when the blood glucose level goes too high and the body tries to rid itself of the excess glucose through frequent urination. If the body becomes dehydrated enough, it can go into a coma.
Reducing Sugar In Food
- Rather than spreading high-sugar jam, marmalade, syrup, chocolate spread or honey on your toast, try a lower-fat spread, reduced-sugar jam or fruit spread, sliced banana or lower-fat cream cheese instead.
- Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the reduced- or lower-sugar version.
- Try reducing the sugar you use in your recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
- Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup.
- Choose unsweetened wholegrain breakfast cereals that are not frosted, or coated with chocolate or honey.
- Choose unsweetened cereal and try adding some fruit for sweetness, which will contribute to your 5 A Day. Sliced bananas, dried fruit and berries are all good options.
The Food Scanner app from Change4Life can help you check how much sugar you or your child is having. Using your smartphone, the app can scan the barcode on food packets to find out exactly how much sugar is in it. Get it on the App Store and .
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What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
Choose The Right Insulin
The right insulin program can make or break your ability to control after-meal spikes. In general, insulins and other medicines that work quickly and for a short time will work better than those that work slowly over a prolonged period.
For instance, rapid-acting insulin analogs , which start working 1015 minutes after injection and peak in about an hour, will cover the after-meal blood glucose rises much better than Regular insulin, which takes 30 minutes to begin working and 23 hours to peak.
Newer ultra-rapid insulins, such as Fiasp , works even faster, with an onset and peak occurring 810 minutes earlier than traditional rapid-acting insulins.
The way insulin is administered can dramatically affect its speed of action. Afrezza is an inhaled insulin formulation that can be used at mealtimes. Because the dry powder is absorbed through the lungs , its onset and peak are much earlier than injected insulin .
Research has also shown that injected insulin can work much faster when the injection site is warmed. This can be accomplished by rubbing the site, immersing in warm water or exercising the muscle near the site. Warming the site causes the blood vessels near the skin to dilate, which allows the insulin to absorb more quickly. By the way, smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, so quitting smoking might improve your post-meal blood sugar .
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What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Sugar
While your body can’t tell the difference between these types of sugars, that doesn’t mean they all get treated the same way.
Simple sugar alone moves to your bloodstream quickly, causing your body to spike the production of insulin to transfer glucose into your cells. “We’re finding out more all the time about the negative health effects of too much insulin in our bloodstreams,” says Ansel.
Complex carbs like whole wheat, on the other hand, are made from long chains of glucose that take your body longer to break down. This longer digestion time gives you more sustained energy and helps you to avoid blood sugar and insulin spikes.
Another difference is in the dosing. “You don’t find foods in nature that have the insane amounts of added sugar found in processed foods. Putting that much sugar into your system is unnatural, and your body isn’t built to digest it,” says Ansel.
Go For A Walk After You Eat
Beyond avoiding the couch, there is something you can actually do to help your blood sugar levels after a meal. Lace up those sneakers, and go for a walk to help balance blood sugar levels further. You’ll even walk off some of those calories, as an added perk.
“Taking a walk after a meal will help to minimize the rise in blood sugar since your muscles will use that glucose for fuel,” she explains.
Something quick, like 10 to 20 minutes, will do the trick, and it’s a bonus if you can get outdoors for some fresh air and exposure to nature, which may further boost your mood and help you de-stress.
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What Could Be The Worst Effects Of High Blood Sugar
If the condition of high blood sugar continues, then it might lead to blindness, degeneration of external organs, damage to kidney and blocking of a bile duct. It will lead to a slow and painful death.
Its a proven fact that consumption of all these will undoubtedly alter the blood sugar level. But, medication is the most vital part. Being in touch with the doctor and taking medicines on time has proved its worth in maintaining blood sugar level.
Put The Kibosh On Condiments
Dressings, sauces, and other condiments may hinder your healthy-eating efforts. One tablespoon of ketchup, for example, has 4 grams of sugar, according to U.S. dietary guidelines. Many condiments can be high in sugar, but its tricky because there are essentially more than 60 different names for sugar, says Ewoldt. So get to know foods with hidden sugars.
When youre looking at the label, it might not say sugar, but it could say high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, rice syrup, or molasses, which are all essentially sugar. In fact, there are at least 40 sneaky nicknames for sugar you might not recognize. Drizzle leafy greens with olive oil or spread avocado on a turkey burger to avoid going overboard with sugar. Heres what happens to your skin when you eat sugar.
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How Do I Detect Spikes In My Sugar Levels
The exact timing of blood sugar spikes can vary from person to person and meal to meal. However, on average, the post-meal peaks tend to be about one hour and 15 minutes after starting a meal.
The best way to measure post-meal patterns is by using a continuous glucose monitor or Flash monitors. These devices can give you a clear view, including graphs, of what happens with the glucose levels after meals without the need for finger pricking . You can ask your diabetes health team if they are available for you as they are not available to everybody.
If you are not using a CGM, then please speak to your healthcare team about the best way to do this for you with finger prick testing.
How do I know it is a spike?
There is no universal answer or specific guidelines on when a sugar level is too high after meals. However, if post-meal readings are consistently above your target range , then you should discuss whether it would be beneficial for you to address these spikes and how to do this, with your healthcare team .
If you are reviewing your post-breakfast sugar levels, you should also be aware of changes in your hormones in the morning, which cause increases in sugar levels . This Digibete video may help.
Some ways to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals
1. Choose low glycaemic index foods
When blood sugar levels are low or hypoglycaemic we need high glycaemic index foods , such as dextrose tablets or juice, that are absorbed quickly to raise our levels and to treat the hypo.
Time Your Bolus Insulin Properly
For people who take rapid-acting insulin at mealtimes, the timing of the bolus can have a huge impact on after-meal blood glucose levels. Boluses given too late to match the entry of glucose from dietary carbohydrates into the bloodstream can produce significant blood glucose spikes soon after eating. A properly timed bolus, on the other hand, can result in excellent after-meal control.
Unless you have gastroparesis , it is best to give bolus insulin doses before eating. How long before? It depends mainly on what you are eating and on your pre-meal blood glucose level.
Figuring out the pre-meal blood glucose part is fairly straightforward: the higher your blood glucose, the earlier the bolus should be given. If your pre-meal blood glucose is well above your target, it is best to give the bolus and then wait at least 30 minutes before eating. Near your target blood glucose? Wait 15 minutes. Below target? Either take the bolus and eat right away, or take the bolus after eating to manage high blood glucose.
Does earlier bolusing make a difference? Absolutely. Research has shown that simply giving mealtime boluses before eating rather than after eating can reduce the post-meal spike by about 45 mg/dl.
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You’ve Lost Motivation To Work Out
Consuming too much sugar can make you gain weight in many ways, but the weirdest way is that it can reduce actual physical activity. In one University of Illinois study, mice that were fed a diet that mimicked the standard American dietâi.e., one that was about 18 percent added sugarsâgained more body fat even though they weren’t fed more calories. One of the reasons was that the mice traveled about 20 percent less in their little cages than mice that weren’t fed the sugary diet.
Causes Of High Blood Sugar
The leading causes of high blood sugar or hyperglycemia include:
Diet: Glucose comes from food, so what you are eating causes high blood sugar. Carbohydrates are the most common culprit as they are broken down into glucose very quickly in the body. High-sugar foods, high-fat foods, and processed foods also cause blood glucose spikes and should be replaced with healthier options.
Stress: When you are stressed, more stress hormones and chemicals are released, which drives blood sugar levels up too. If the stress is only temporary, this is not a serious issue, but if you experience chronic stress or an anxiety disorder, you may experience high blood sugar levels more often.
Metabolic Syndrome: These are a collection of conditions that occur at the same time and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. High blood pressures, excess fat around the waist, and high cholesterol or triglycerides are examples of these conditions. When these occur in the body together, your risk for diabetes increases as does your blood sugar and the risk for potential complications.
Physical Inactivity: A lack of physical activity contributes to elevated blood sugar. When you are physically active each day, insulin works more efficiently, and your blood sugar can be maintained.
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Have A Spoonful Of Peanut Butter
After a sugar binge, you may want to swear off all calories. However, eating food with other nutrients helps ward off that undesirable sugar crash caused by quick digestion. A spoonful of peanut butter or handful of nuts gives you fat and protein to slow digestion, says Jennifer Powell Bolton, PhD, RDN, a professor of nutrition at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Or try hummus with vegetables, which have fiber that helps slow the absorption of simple sugars. Not sure if youre nearing the limit? These are the nine clear signs youre eating too much sugar.
How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
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