Your blood sugar is the amount of glucose you have in your blood at any given time. Glucose gives you energy and gives your organs and cells energy to function. A lot of things can affect the level of glucose that is in your blood. The numbers rise and fall naturally throughout the day when you eat, move, exercise, and simply live. The amount of stress you are under, the medication you are taking, and even your general health can affect the glucose in your blood.
There is a range that your glucose must stay within to be healthy. If it gets too high or if it gets too low it can have dire, even life-threatening consequences. This is the short answer. Yes, it really is that important to check your blood sugar. Now let’s look a bit deeper so you can understand how this works.
A person with type 1 diabetes has an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. We do not know why this happens. The result is, a type 1 diabetic cannot produce any or enough insulin to help move insulin through the blood, and into the organs to provide energy. They must take insulin injections and monitor the glucose levels of their blood manually.
A person with type 2 diabetes has a pancreas that produces insulin. However, it no longer produces enough insulin to correctly control their blood sugars.
A person with diabetes either has too much insulin in their blood and does not know what to do with it, or they have not enough insulin in the blood to support life.
The only way to know at a given time is to take a tiny sample of the blood, and using a meter, test the blood. It is almost painless and takes just a few seconds.
Blood glucose meters are inexpensive (sometimes free), portable, easy to use, and accurate. The Contour blood glucose meter is produced by Ascensia. Ascensia has been a leader in the diabetic care and comfort industry for ¾ of a century. You can click on Contour Next Meter to get a state-of-the-art meter for no charge.
High and Low Blood Sugar
Your doctor will advise you on where he wants you to target your blood glucose levels. He will factor in a lot of things. He will take your age, weight, and lifestyle into consideration. After years of out of control blood glucose levels, normal may feel anything but normal. For this reason, he may bring you into normal range slowly, to allow you to adjust.
However, the American Diabetes Association have standard blood glucose recommendations for people living with diabetes. It is important to note that first numbers= mg/dL are American recommendations and the second numbers mmol/L are the conversions for Canada:
- Before meals: 80 to 130 mg/dL OR 4.4 mmol/L to 7.2 mmol/L (in Canada)
- One to two hours after meals: Less than 180 mg/dL OR 10 mmol/L (in Canada)
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is defined as a glucose level of less than 70 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L or higher, while hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, is a glucose level of greater than 125 mg/dL or 6.9 mmol/L while fasting (not eating for at least eight hours). A person with a fasting blood glucose of higher than 125 mg/dL or 6.9 mmol/L is said to have diabetes.
Tips for managing your blood sugar
Controlling your diet is the key to controlling the yo-yo effect of blood sugar. Here are some healthy tips to help.
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity can all help. Other tips for managing your glucose levels include:7
- Eat at regular times, and don’t skip meals
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity
- Drink water instead of juice or soda
- Limit alcoholic drinks
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit
- Control your food portions
The only way you can ever tell what causes your blood sugar to rise and fall is to monitor your blood sugar. It takes a lot of time and effort to know where your limits are. Few things in life are off-limits. But most things are to be done in moderation. You must plan your activities. For example, if you know there is going to be a celebration at work today for the boss’s birthday and you plan to enjoy a small piece of cake, you will be sure to enter the lunch hour with low blood sugar. Perhaps you will skip toast with your eggs that morning and take the stairs instead of the elevator. When you enjoy your cake, your blood sugar will rise as expected. But, because of your planning, it may stay within range or take just a little effort to bring it back to a healthy level.
Athletes with diabetes have to watch their numbers because of the extra exercise they give their bodies. If you work-out every day, you may be prone to having a blood sugar drop while you are asleep. This can be very dangerous. It is important to know how your body reacts to what you do. Once you do, you will be able to plan your day and be comfortable in all the stages of your life.
DIabetes does not have a cure yet, but you do not have to give your life to it. Control is the key and you hold that key. It is up to you what you do with it. So, make the right choice. Take control now and live your life.