Glucose is an important energy source for your brain and body. Your body converts carbohydrates and simple sugars in your diet to glucose for fuel usage. Your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, a normal fasting blood glucose level is between 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter and the recommendation is to aim for 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter when fasting and less than 180 milligrams per deciliter after meals.
Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, occurs when your blood glucose drops too low. Blood glucose can drop if you missed a meal or waited too long to eat. Rigorous exercise also decreases blood glucose, as well as drinking alcoholic beverages. Some medications can cause blood glucose to drop. You can prevent hypoglycemia by eating regularly. If you experience low blood sugar, eating a few pieces of hard candy, drinking an 8-ounce cup of milk or drinking 1/2 cup of fruit juice can quickly raise levels.
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High Blood Glucose
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, high blood sugar means either you do not have enough insulin in your body or your insulin sensitivity is decreased and your body is not responding properly. Diet and lack of exercise are factors in high blood glucose. Having an infection can also increase blood glucose, as can some medications. If you are on diabetes medications and miss a dose, your blood glucose levels can rise.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Physical activity increases insulin sensitivity, which helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels, so it is important to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily. Eating healthy fruits, vegetables and lean meats such as poultry and fish reduces your risk of developing high glucose. Limiting high-sugar foods such as ice cream, cake, candy bars and pastries helps reduce the glycemic load on your body. Glycemic load refers to how much insulin your pancreas produces after a meal.
Diabetes occurs when your body doesn't make enough insulin or does not use it properly. There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1, the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin. In Type 2, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or the body's cells ignore it. According to FamilyDoctor.org, between 90 to 95 percent of individuals diagnosed have Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin replacement. Type 2 diabetes is usually managed through diet and lifestyle changes.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.