Blood Sugar

Blood sugar or glucose levels are important because these levels can tell us whether or not our pancreas is functioning well among other factors, and more importantly, if we have diabetes.

Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism, the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in your blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body. After digestion, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach.

When we eat, the pancreas is supposed to automatically produce the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into our cells. In people with diabetes however, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.

Millions of people have diabetes mellitus, commonly called diabetes. You may be surprised to know that many of these people don’t even know they have it. Diabetes is a serious disease and should not be ignored. If you have it, correct treatment can help you live a long and healthy life.

If you have diabetes, your body can’t make or use insulin. Insulin helps change sugar into energy to keep you alive. There are different kinds of diabetes, but the main ones are Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is mostly found in children and young adults. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin and you must take insulin shots every day.

You May:

  • urinate often
  • be very thirst
  • be very hungry
  • lose a lot of weight
  • be very tired
  • be irritable
  • have blurred vision
  • have trouble seeing

Type 2 Diabetes

Most people with diabetes have this form of the disease. Type 2 is usually found in people over 45, who have diabetes in their family, who are overweight, who don’t exercise and who have cholesterol problems. It is also common in certain racial and ethnic groups (African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics) and in women who had diabetes when they were pregnant. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body cannot make enough insulin or correctly use it. Treatment is diabetes pills and sometimes insulin injections, as well as diet and exercise.

You May Have:

  • any of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes
  • a lot of infections
  • cuts or bruises that heal slowly
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • skin, gum or bladder infections that keep coming back

Controlling Diabetes:

Daily monitoring and careful control of blood sugar levels are the most important steps to take for people with diabetes. If not treated, diabetes can cause:

High blood sugar (which could make you thirsty, tired, lose weight, urinate often, give you infections that won’t go away)
Many serious health problems (which could injure your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart)

Warning: Low Blood Sugar People with diabetes may develop low blood sugar because their blood has too much insulin or other blood sugar-lowering medication or from not eating enough food. It is important to follow the eating and medication schedule your doctor has prescribed to avoid low blood sugar. Low blood sugar could make you shaky, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, have a headache, have pale skin color, have sudden mood or behavior changes, have clumsy or jerky movements, have difficulty paying attention, feel confused, or have tingling sensations around the mouth. Taking Care Of Your Diabetes

The best way to take care of your diabetes is to make sure the levels or amount of sugar in your blood are near the normal range. This will make you feel better and help you stay healthy. Your doctor will tell you how often to check your blood sugar level. To do this you will need to take a drop of your blood and place it on a special test strip. Then a device called a blood glucose meter, which measures the amount of sugar in your blood, reads the strip. Writing down this level, along with the time and date, will help you see how well your treatment plan is working.

Remember:

A person’s blood sugar level rises after eating any meal that contains carbohydrates or protein. Table sugar (also called sucrose) counts as a carbohydrate. Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame (NutraSweet), do not count as carbohydrates or fats. They make food taste sweet, but they do not raise blood sugar levels and have little or no calories.

To Help Control Diabetes

Eat well-balanced meals-healthy foods in the right amounts, will keep your weight under control and help manage your diabetes.

Your body needs foods from the four main food groups every day:

  1. Fruits and vegetables (oranges, apples, bananas, carrots, and spinach)
  2. Whole grains, cereals, and bread (wheat, rice, oats, bran, and barley)
  3. Dairy products (whole or skim milk, cream, and yogurt)
  4. Meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, and nuts.

Note:

Too much fat and cholesterol in your diet can be very harmful to people with diabetes. Foods that are high in fat include red meat, dairy products (whole milk, cream, cheese and ice cream), egg yolks, butter, salad dressings, vegetable oils and many desserts.

Can You Do Anything Else?

Exercise-is important for good diabetes control and usually lowers blood sugar and may help insulin work better. Exercise and a healthy diet can also help you take off extra pounds if you are overweight.

Warning:

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. You may need a snack before or during the activity to avoid having low blood sugar while you exercise.