Have you been feeling rather odd: extremely thirsty, hungry, and drowsy? On top of these, have you the queer need to urinate often? Beware, these symptoms are hoisting a red flag on your soaring blood sugar levels. Heed the warning. It is time for a blood sugar test.
It has probably never occurred to you to take a blood glucose test. And why should it? Before this, you have been feeling A-ok. Besides, blood sugar tests are your diabetic Aunt Josie’s purview, not yours. Whether you have just turned hyperglycaemic (blood sugar is high) or have simply just blown out the candles for your 45th birthday, you need to start tracking your blood sugar levels. Diabetic or not, monitoring your blood sugar does matter. A lot!
What is Blood Sugar?
Blood sugar refers to the volume of glucose in the blood. This amount changes throughout the day, rising after a meal and falling hours after food intake. Blood sugar is at its lowest level usually in the morning before breakfast (a period known as the “fasting level”). Normal blood sugar level at the fasting level should be less than 100 mg/dl. After a meal, it could rise to as much as 180 mg/dl, two hours after which the body automatically regulates it down to less than 140 mg/dl.
Chart reference: http://gaby.fachrul.com/
Numbers above the normal range signal a pre-diabetic to diabetic stage. Lower than normal levels show a hypoglycaemic state. Any of these abnormal conditions need medical intervention. Keeping your blood sugar levels normal is too important to nonchalantly dismiss.
Blood sugar concentration is regulated by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin allows the cells in your body to harness the sugar in carbohydrates for energy and to store this sugar in the liver for future use. Low production of or resistance to insulin allows for the high presence of glucose in the blood, which if chronic, can develop to one of the most dangerous medical conditions anyone can have: diabetes.
Why Knowing Your Blood Sugar Level Matters
Knowing the state of your blood sugar concentration can help you steer clear of diabetes, whether you have the bad luck to have inherited Aunt Josie’s genes or the penchant towards bad diets to get it. It isn’t just diabetes, however, that one needs to worry about. Over time, chronic high blood sugar levels after meals can wreak havoc on your body and, aside from diabetes, put you at risk of:
- Weight gain and insulin resistanceYou’re really asking for it if you constantly load up on high glycemic index foods such as white bread, fries, pasta, and cake. High glycemic index (GI) foods are high-carbohydrate type foods that cause glucose levels to spike.
A lot of high GI food consumed per meal inundates the body with blood sugar causing the pancreas to overreact and pump out a lot of insulin in response. The sheer volume of insulin quickly tamps out the high level of sugar in the blood, but its excess also brings the level way down in a jiff …and that’s when you experience crashing after that surge of energy known as a “sugar high.” Now that you’ve crashed and your blood sugar has been on an all-time low for a while, your body thinks it’s starved when it actually isn’t and you begin to feel hungry again even your body has had its fill of calories. So now you’re reaching for a bag of Sour Cream n’ Onion chips (just this once) when you just had a huge calorie-laden lunch two hours ago.
Of course, you start putting on the pounds. The chronic high level production of insulin creates fat. Fat calls on another hormone, cortisol, which can prevents insulin from working efficiently. The fatter you get, the more insulin resistant you tend to be. The cycle goes on until you get off its rollercoaster ride by starting a healthy, balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
- Cardiovascular diseases High blood sugar raises the amount of free radicals in the blood. These toxic molecules weaken the arteries by allowing cholesterol to cling to its walls and rendering it incapable of keeping blood pressure normal. High blood sugar also encourages high levels of insulin which triggers nasty clots, high triglycerides, and inflammation.
- Certain types of cancersToo much glucose in the blood may not directly cause cancer; but, the chronic overproduction of insulin because of it may cause cancerous growths. High risk areas for these growths are in the breasts, prostate, colon, rectum, endometrium, and no surprise, the pancreas.
Clearly, chronic high blood sugar has a damaging impact on our health with the inevitable process of aging exacerbating the impact. If we recognize early on how important it is to keep our blood glucose levels in balance, we may well live longer, healthier lives…..who knows, long enough to get (and have enough breath to blow out) 100 birthday candles.