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.
Can I Check My Own Blood Sugar
You can do blood sugar level check by doing a finger-prick test, by using a blood sugar monitor called a flash glucose monitor or with a continuous glucose monitor . You can do this several times a day helping you keep an eye on your levels as you go about your life and help you work out what to eat and how much medication to take. Find out your ideal target range.
Not everyone with diabetes needs to check their levels like this. Youll need to if you take certain diabetes medication. Always talk to your healthcare team if youre not sure whether thats you theyll give you advice on whether to check them yourself and how often.
And theres also something called an HbA1c, which is a blood test to measure your average blood sugar level over the last three months. Everyone with diabetes is entitled to this check.
High blood sugar levels increase your risk of developing serious complications. However you manage your diabetes, stay in the know about your blood sugar levels
What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, or glucose, is your body’s main energy source. We get glucose from the food we eat, and our blood carries it around to all the cells in the body to give them energy to function. Glucose mainly comes from the carbohydrates we eat, though our bodies can convert protein and fat into sugar too if needed.
Glucose from protein is typically stored in the liver and doesn’t enter the bloodstream, so eating protein-rich foods won’t raise your blood sugar too much. Fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which causes a delayed rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar can be an issue because it usually leads to sugar crashes, which are no fun — symptoms include fatigue, headaches and the jitters. So, eat meals balanced with protein, fat and carbs to avoid this.
Blood sugar is closely related to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps your body use glucose that’s in the carbohydrates you eat. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels — if you eat more sugar than you need in the moment, the hormone helps store the glucose in your liver until it’s needed for energy.
You probably also know about blood sugar in the context of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which people are unable to make insulin, so they need to inject the hormone in order to keep their blood sugar levels stable. People with Type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs later in life, either don’t secrete insulin or are resistant to it.
You May Like: How To Control Urine Sugar
Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal What’s Not And How To Measure
What do blood glucose levels mean and what range is healthy? Here’s what you need to know.
Sugar can lead to high blood sugar and contributes to the development of diabetes.
We all want to keep track of our health in every way we can — you may weigh yourself, keep track of your blood pressure or monitor your resting heart rate. But how close of an eye do you keep on your blood sugar?
People with diabetes are all too familiar with their blood sugar levels, but the rest of us might not even think about it much. However, consistently high blood sugar levels can coexist with Type 2 diabetes and cause serious health conditions like kidney disease, nerve problems or stroke.
While that’s no reason to panic, when it comes to our health, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on inside of our bodies. Without further ado, let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.
Our Health & Wellness newsletter puts the best products, updates and advice in your inbox.
Consider Testing After You Eat
Whether or not you take insulin or one or more other glucose-lowering medications to control your blood glucose levels, consider checking one to two hours after you eat to see how certain meals affect your blood sugar. This is especially helpful when you are first diagnosed. It’s also useful to do what’s called paired testing, which is testing before you eat and then again after you eat. Doing this at your biggest meal of the day can be valuable.
Below are target blood sugar guidelines for adults with diabetes who have no other health issues. There’s a slight difference between the two organizations’ recommendations. Ask your provider about specific fasting and after-eating glucose levels and A1C targets that are right for you.
Guidelines for checking glucose after a meal :
American Diabetes Association: Less than 180 mg/dl
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: Less than 140 mg/dl
Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Sugar Level Immediately
Testing Too Soon After Eating
Knowing when to test and why that information is useful can help you better control your diabetes. “Often, people will test blood sugar half an hour or an hour after they eat,” says Uelmen, but this is sooner than experts recommend.
Testing too soon after you’ve had a meal or a snack will give you results that are probably too high. The solution for better diabetes control: Test fasting blood sugar, and test every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, are a measurement that show how much glucose you have in your blood. Glucose is a sugar that you get from food and drink. Your blood sugar levels go up and down throughout the day and for people living with diabetes these changes are larger and happen more often than in people who don’t have diabetes.
Recommended Reading: Can Diabetics Eat Banana
Why Are Some Children Screened For Diabetes
Diabetes can also occur in children. Most children with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. However, children who become overweight can also develop type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common. For this reason, obese children and young people should have a screening blood test for diabetes, especially if there are other people in the whnau/family who have diabetes.
Blood Glucose Testing For Other Types Of Diabetes
How often people with other types of diabetes should test their blood sugar will vary depending on what medication is taken and personal circumstances. People on multiple insulin injections per day or on an insulin pump should test as often as people with type 1 diabetes. If you are on medication that can cause hypos, you should, at the least, be able to test your blood glucose whenever you notice any possible signs of hypoglycemia. Blood glucose testing is useful for testing how much different meals and activities affect your blood glucose levels. This tends to be of particular use for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Read more about pre and post meal blood glucose testing
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Diabetes Instantly
Misusing Lancets And Test Strips
For the least pain and the most accurate results, you need the right blood sugar testing supplies: lancets, an accurate glucose meter, and manufacturer-recommended test strips. Skimping may not offer you the payoff you’re hoping for lancets start out very sharp but quickly get dull and will hurt if you try to reuse them, says Amori. Also, using expired or poorly stored test strips can result in inaccurate readings.
Solutions for better diabetes control: Use a fresh lancet, make sure test strips are stored in a closed container, and check the test strip expiration date before using.
The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar
Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.
Living with diabetes includes monitoring your blood sugar levels. Most people do this by pricking their fingers with a blood sugar meter , which measures sugar in a small amount of blood.
Some people use a continuous glucose monitor , a sensor under the skin that checks blood sugar every few minutes. People who use a CGM must also use a blood sugar meter daily to ensure their CGM is accurate.
When you have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is crucial because keeping blood sugar in a target range can help prevent complications, including:
- Kidney disease
- Vision problems
When you check your blood sugar matters. There are several times throughout the day that health experts recommend checking your blood sugar.
This article explains the importance of monitoring your blood sugar, how blood sugar is measured, and how to check it.
You May Like: What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Sugar Cravings
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.
Why Are Blood Tests Done To Screen For Diabetes
Many people who have diabetes don’t feel unwell in the early stages. By the time you get symptoms of diabetes, there may already be damage to important parts of your body. Treatment of diabetes can slow down further complications but cant usually repair this damage. This is why your healthcare provider might test you for diabetes even if you feel well.
Testing people for a condition like diabetes when they do not have any symptoms is called screening. Studies have been done to work out who is more likely to have diabetes so they can be screened.
Diabetes is more common in:
- Mori, Pasifika and Indo-Asian people
- older people
- people who have whnau/family members with diabetes.
These people should have regular screening tests for diabetes.
You May Like: How To Come Sugar Disease
How To Track Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar vacillates throughout the day due to many factors, says Megan Wolf, a registered dietitian and diabetes care and education specialist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The preferred way to keep track of it? Whatever works best for you. This may include journaling numbers into a logbook or typing blood sugar readings into an app, says Wolf. A lot of my patients find continuous glucose monitors helpful. Glucometers and continuous glucose monitoring systems store glucose data that can be uploaded to a computer. Then the patient can review their blood sugar data on their device or keep a detailed written log.
How To Do A Finger
Your healthcare team will show you how to do it the first time, but these are the key steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dont use wet wipes as the glycerine in them can affect the test result. Make sure your hands are warm so its easier to get blood and wont hurt as much.
- Take a test strip and slot it into the meter to turn it on. Some meters will have tests strips built in.
- Remove the cap from your finger prick device and put in a new lancet. Then put the cap back on and set the device by pulling or clicking the plunger.
- Choose which finger to prick but avoid your thumb or index finger . And dont prick the middle, or too close to a nail. Place the device against the side of your finger and press the plunger. Use a different finger each time and a different area.
- Take your meter with the test strip and hold it against the drop of blood. Itll tell you if the test strip is filled, usually by beeping.
- Before you look at your reading, check your finger. Use a tissue to stop bleeding, then use it to take out the lancet and throw it away in your sharps bin.
- You can use the same tissue to take out the test strip and throw that away too. Taking out the strip will usually turn the meter off.
Also Check: How To Reduce High Sugar Level Immediately
Getting Tested By Your Doctor
How Does Blood Glucose Work
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. When you eat or drink, your body breaks down carbohydrates in the food or liquid into sugar for energy.
Then your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps blood sugar enter your bodys cells. It also helps your body store blood sugar for later use. As the cells use the blood sugar, glucose and insulin levels in the blood decrease.
But with diabetes, your body has trouble regulating glucose. Either your pancreas doesnt make enough insulin, or your body doesnt process insulin effectively. Therefore, the amount of sugar in your blood is higher than normal. And a lot of glucose in your blood is bad for your body.
A fasting blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose in your blood when it should be at its lowest. That happens in the morning and when you havent had anything to eat or drink for a while.
Don’t Miss: How To Bring Down Sugar Level Quickly
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry or have other symptoms, check your blood sugar. Even if you dont have symptoms but think you may have low blood sugar, check it. If your blood sugar is lower than 70 mg/dL, do one of the following immediately:
- Take four glucose tablets.
- Drink four ounces of fruit juice.
- Drink four ounces of regular soda, not diet soda.
- Eat four pieces of hard candy.
Wait for 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar again. Do one of the above treatments again until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above and eat a snack if your next meal is an hour or more away. If you have problems with low blood sugar, ask your doctor if your treatment plan needs to be changed.
What To Know About Blood Sugar Levels And Driving
If you have type 1 diabetes or have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, its possible to develop low blood sugar while driving, causing difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and operating the vehicle. You may even pass out. Before you head out on the road, check your blood sugar levels, especially if youre taking insulin or insulin-releasing med, such as Glucotrol , says Dr. Thomas. Depending on the length of your journey, you should also pull over during your trip to check your levels again. The bottom line: Swings in glucose levels with diabetes can be controlled if you monitor them carefully.
Stress, Meals, Exercise and Blood Sugar Testing:Journal of Diabetes Research. Variables to Be Monitored via Biomedical Sensors for Complete Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Management: An Extension of the On-Board Concept.
Regular Blood Sugar Testing:Diabetes Care. Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, 2018. A Consensus Report by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes .
Hypoglycemia:BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care. Never Again Will I Be Carefree: A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Hypoglycemia on Quality of Life Among Adults with Type 1 Diabetes.
Also Check: Reduce Sugar Level Instantly