Blood glucose levels are primarily controlled by the hormone insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas. After a meal, blood glucose rises due to the digestion of the food. This triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas, which promotes glucose absorption until it reaches the normal level. But, in individuals with defective functioning of insulin, the blood glucose level remains higher for a longer period. Chronic uncontrolled blood sugar or hyperglycemia damages various body organs, nerves, and eyes. As a diabetic, it is extremely important to keep your blood sugar level always in check.
Blood sugar range: In a healthy person, the normal blood sugar levels are below 100 mg/dL after fasting, but can spike to 140 mg/dL 2 hours post meal. However, in a diabetic, the fasting blood sugar itself can reach to up to above 200 mg/dL.
How to keep the blood sugar under check?
A proper diet and exercise plan is a must to manage a diabetic’s blood sugar level. Moreover, a diabetic must monitor the blood sugar level on a regular basis for effective management of sugar levels. A few common tips to keep the blood sugar under check are as follows:
Diet: A well-planned diet is a must for the management of high blood sugar.
- Carbohydrates: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a proper monitoring of carbohydrate intake in a meal to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Include healthy carbohydrates such as milk, fruits, legumes, grains, and yoghurt, which do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Avoid highly processed or refined carbohydrates like candy, white rice, and white bread because they rapidly increase the blood sugar levels. A well-balanced diet must be designed after consulting a doctor to maintain the healthy blood sugar levels.
- Offset carbohydrates with fat and protein: It has been observed that eating carbohydrate along with fats and proteins causes a gradual rise in sugar levels. A balanced and healthy diet can control the diabetic blood sugar level. A balanced diet may include vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, and carrots, starch foods and whole grains, a lean protein source such as fish or tofu, low-fat milk, and salad.
- Include proteins in breakfast: A 25-30 gm protein at breakfast has been reported to reduce the blood sugar level both after a breakfast and post lunch. According to the ADA, egg whites, and reduced fat-cheese are a rich source of proteins.
Eat small portions: Avoid eating large portions at a time as bigger portions will translate into higher blood sugar level in diabetics. Take snacks which are balanced in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Dry fruits like almonds and cashews also help in weight management and sugar control.
Exercise: Exercise is a must to maintain the healthy levels of blood sugar. It helps in better insulin function and stimulates the absorption of glucose by the cells. Both of these factors help in lowering the blood sugar levels. A long workout session can send the blood glucose too low, which is dangerous for a diabetic. To avoid this, blood glucose must be monitored before the exercise, and if sugar levels are low, eat some snack before a workout.
Weight management: Losing extra weight is an effective strategy to control blood sugar levels. A healthy diet and regular physical exercise are crucial in weight management. To avoid weight gain, eat only when you feel hungry and avoid eating due to habitual and emotional reasons.
Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol causes a drop in blood-sugar levels. To avoid this, drink moderately and do not consume alcohol in the empty stomach. According to ADA, blood sugar levels must be checked before alcohol consumption and before sleep. If levels are low, eat something to raise the sugar levels.
Medications: Several types of medications are available for sugar management. Different medications are required at different stages of sugar management. However, a doctor’s consultation is strongly recommended before starting any kind of medication.
Watch your sugar intake: While buying a product, always look into the amount of carbohydrate present in the food item. This awareness helps in controlling unnecessary carbohydrate intake coming through foods.
Proper eating and dose schedule: The blood sugar levels are greatly affected by the eating schedule. One must follow the same time schedule to achieve consistent sugar levels. It also helps in timing a regular insulin dose schedule which is crucial for maintaining the sugar levels.
Chronic hyperglycemia is detrimental to all body organs. The management of blood sugar levels requires a constant effort and both dietary and lifestyle changes are essential to control the blood sugar levels in diabetics. A diabetic must consult a doctor chart out a well-balanced diet and exercise schedule to avoid high blood sugar levels.