WHAT ARE BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS?
We all need glucose for energy This glucose is mainly from our food. Glucose is released into the blood after eating, especially if it’s a carbohydrate such as cereal, bread, pasta or sugary foods. In people without diabetes, the level of glucose in the blood is automatically balanced by two hormones – insulin and glucagons. If glucose levels start to go too high, insulin is released to lower it. If levels go too low, glucagons are produced to release stored glucose to raise levels. Glucose levels are usually between 4 and 7mmol/l.
Diabetes is a result of problems with the pancreatic hormone insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood and the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the cells. In people with diabetes, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being taken into, and used by, the cells, leading to hyperglycemia. Eventually, hyperglycemia leads to damaged blood vessels, which in turn, may cause eye disease, heart disease, peripheral and autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage in the limbs and internal organs), and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).
AIMING FOR GOOD BLOOD GLUCOSE CONTROL
People with diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible. This means aiming for between 4 and 7mmol/l before meals and no higher than 10mmol/l up to two hours after a meal. Research has proved that keeping blood glucose at this level greatly reduces the risk of developing complications of diabetes. These complications are heart disease and damage to the eyes, nerves and kidneys and much more.
Your doctor may suggest slightly different blood glucose targets for some people – for example, women with diabetes are generally advised to keep tighter control whilst they are pregnant. Most people with diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels themselves. This can be done either by testing a small sample of blood using a blood glucose meter or by testing a urine sample.
STEPS TO KEEPING GOOD CONTROL
1. Follow a healthy diet.
2. Be more active.
3. Manage your weight.
4. If you take prescribed medication, take it regularly.
5. Consider focused supplementation to help maintain control.
THE BASICS OF A HEALTHY DIET
• Eat at least three smaller, similarly sized meals at regular times each day, so that your blood glucose is kept as
even as possible.
• Limit fat during cooking.
• Eat plenty of starchy foods, using those high in fibre and with a low glycaemic index (GI) such as whole-wheat seed
bread and cereals, brown rice, pasta, oats, beans, peas and lentils.
• Try to have at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
• Don’t eat more than you need. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat.
• Use less salt.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Avoid being overweight, this reduces the strain on the pancreas.
Exercise lowers blood glucose levels. Physical activity is good for everyone but it is especially important if you have diabetes. Regular exercise can help you control the amount of glucose in your blood and keep your weight down. When you exercise your body uses blood glucose faster. In addition, exercise makes the cells more sensitive to insulin and can decrease the amount of insulin your body needs to keep your blood glucose normal.
Submitted by Stuart Wilson