You may be aware that there’s a link between blood sugar levels and diabetes, but do you know how the two are connected? Understanding how high blood sugar levels contribute to the development of diabetes and affect the condition can be useful in helping you keep your blood sugar at a normal level. This is just as important for preventing diabetes as it is for managing the condition.
Elevated blood sugar is a condition called hyperglycaemia. This affects people with diabetes, as well as with prediabetes – a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated above normal but aren’t as high as in a diabetic.
Below, we’ll explain how you can manage your blood sugar levels, whether you suffer from prediabetes, diabetes, or are simply trying to stay healthy.
What is blood sugar?
Blood sugar, or blood glucose levels, simply refers to the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood carries glucose throughout your body, to all the cells which use it for energy. While some cells also use protein and fat for energy, red blood cells and brain cells get their energy from sugar exclusively.
How insulin affects blood sugar
When you eat carbohydrates, your body converts these into sugars, elevating your blood sugar level. When blood sugar is elevated, your body produces insulin (a hormone that helps to use these sugars for energy).
Both prediabetes and diabetes are caused by the body’s relationship with insulin. Depending on the type of diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin, not use available insulin efficiently, or both. This means that glucose can’t be processed out of the bloodstream, and blood sugar levels remain elevated, or continue to rise.
What contributes to hyperglycaemia?
While a lack of natural insulin production or use causes blood sugar levels to elevate, there are some external lifestyle factors that can also have an effect, such as:
- Stress or illness
- Excessive carbohydrate intake
- Exercising less than usual
- Hormonal changes (such as during your menstrual cycle)
How to lower blood sugar levels
When normal blood sugar levels rise in people with diabetes, their bodies aren’t able to bring them back down naturally. For this reason, it’s often necessary for a doctor to prescribe insulin or diabetes medication. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss or a diet plan can also help to manage blood sugar levels naturally.
Managing stress is also an important factor. When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increase insulin resistance, making it harder for your body to use the insulin that it produces.
Monitoring blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, regularly monitoring blood sugar levels is essential to help stabilise them. This can be done at home using a portable blood sugar meter, which only requires a drop of blood from pricking your finger.
Self-monitoring regularly allows you to keep track of how changes in your diet and lifestyle affect your blood sugar levels, and this information can help you and your doctor adjust your treatment plan to ensure its working at its best to keep you healthy.
Over a long period of time, high blood sugar levels can cause serious health issues. If you have diabetes, understanding why your blood sugar is elevated, and what you can do to bring it back down to a normal level, are key for your long-term health.
At Guy Gold’s, we’re committed to helping our clients achieve the best overall health and wellbeing. We’re experienced in working safely alongside other medical professionals, and can tailor a treatment plan to fit in with plans prescribed by your GP. If you’d like support in managing your blood sugar levels through diet, book an appointment with one of our Nutrition Specialists.