Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
If you think that you may have healthy blood sugar levels, then here’s how you can manage it. If not, here’s how you can get to a healthy blood sugar level.
Do you know the leading causes of death in the US?
If your guess includes heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, you’re right. Also included in the list are stroke, pneumonia, and diabetes.
Speaking of diabetes or diabetes mellitus, do you understand how important it is for diabetics to maintain healthy blood sugar levels? If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to remember that consistently high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
That being said, let’s talk about what a healthy blood sugar range is for diabetics and the basics of blood sugar management.
First Things First: What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels?
After a meal, the pancreas releases insulin to bring blood sugar or blood glucose levels back to normal. However, if you’re diabetic, it’s either your body can’t make insulin (type 1 diabetes) or your body becomes insulin resistant.
Both conditions lead to sugar building up in the blood. When left untreated, this can affect your nerves and blood vessels, which could lead to all sorts of complications such as heart disease, vision loss, foot damage, dementia, etc.
Higher than normal blood sugar levels may also occur in those with prediabetes, as well those with gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). The latter could happen because the placenta produces hormones that block insulin’s normal functions.
Healthy Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal?
Defining healthy blood sugar levels is different for people without diabetes. Normal for them means their fasting blood sugar is within 70 to 99 mg/dL. Meanwhile, a diabetic patient’s fasting normal blood sugar should be around 80 to 130 mg/dL.
Aside from fasting blood sugar, those with diabetes should also measure their blood sugar 2 hours after eating, and their readings should not go above 180 mg/dL. Another test that can help diabetics maintain healthy blood sugar levels is the hemoglobin A1c test, which provides an average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months.
For diabetic patients, A1c levels should be less than 7.0%. Depending on some factors, your A1c targets might be different. Your doctor will take into consideration your age, how long you’ve had diabetes, other conditions you might have (e.g., heart disease), and so on.
Blood Sugar Management: The Basics
Now that you know more about diabetes and high blood sugar levels, let’s discuss the ways you can keep your levels within your target range.
Here are 7 of them.
1. Get Diagnosed
In some patients with type 2 diabetes, symptoms may not be as obvious. If you’re worried that you might have diabetes, it’s important that you see a doctor right away.
Your doctor will order tests such as fasting blood glucose to check if your blood sugar levels are within normal limits. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment. Don’t wait too long to see a doctor, especially if you notice symptoms like excessive fatigue, frequent urination, and increased thirst/hunger.
2. Track Your Blood Sugar
Remember, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. To make sure you’re tracking your blood sugar at home, you need a blood glucose monitor or blood sugar meter.
There are different models available, so if you’re not sure how to use your device, you can ask your doctor. Don’t forget to log your readings in a notebook, a spreadsheet, or an app. Your doctor will tell you how often to test your blood sugar and will check your logs to see if your treatment needs to be updated.
3. Eat Right
Watching what you eat is a must. If you’re carrying extra weight, your body will have a harder time controlling your blood sugar levels.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should starve yourself. Aim to eat more lean protein and high-fiber foods, and make sure to stay away from anything processed.
Now, if you’re thinking of trying a popular diet (e.g., gluten-free, paleo, vegan, etc.), make sure to consult your doctor first. If you’re given the go-ahead but aren’t seeing results, your doctor might refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist to help you find a suitable diet plan.
4. Stay Active
One of the benefits of regular exercise is it can improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. But remember not to overdo it as you also don’t want your blood sugar levels to drop too low. Low blood sugar can be dangerous.
While some will only experience loss of consciousness, there are times when severe low blood sugar can cause seizures and even death.
5. Take Medicine as Instructed
Depending on the type of diabetes you have, your doctor might prescribe insulin injections, drugs that lower blood sugar, or both.
Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to a T, and don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions about the medications you’re taking. Also, if you’re considering taking a supplement, don’t forget to inform your doctor so he or she can check possible drug interactions.
It’s true, stress makes everything worse, and that includes your blood sugar levels.
Now, if you can’t seem to find ways to relax, try to identify your top stressors. You can also talk to a therapist, as well as experiment with proven stress relief techniques such as meditation, yoga, journaling, and so on.
7. Help Your Health Care Team
Your doctor, nutritionist, and other members of your health care team want you to be as healthy as possible. The best way to help yourself is to be helpful to the people who are taking care of your health.
That means keeping regular appointments and not missing tests and screenings. The more proactive you are at following your diabetes care plan, the better.