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Do Your Blood Sugars Vary Widely? - Part 2

In a consult with a diabetic, the person told me that their blood sugars varied from 280 (or even as high as 320) to 75. Also, this happened regularly. The A1C value was 9.5 for this person - who does clearly have a severe sugar problem.....

Glucose variability (changes - and even wide changes) in glucose levels in your blood is not the problem. Hyperglycemia (constantly high glucose levels) and hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) are the problems. We all experience changes in our glucose levels hour-by-hour and even minute-by-minute as we consume food, exercise, fight infection, and sleep. This is true for diabetics AND non-diabetics.

Remember: "Diabetes" is a man-made term. The true disease or condition is insulin resistance. Diabetes just means "significant" insulin resistance. Where you are on the insulin resistance scale is best measured with your A1C value which is a 120 look-back at your blood glucose levels.

Insulin resistance is simply a measure of how hard your hormone insulin has to work to "push" sugar (glucose) into your cells. Your blood glucose levels vary based on the food you eat, your cellular need for fuel, and your level of insulin resistance. The more "resistant" you are, the more likely you glucose levels will swing because a very insulin resistant cell (person) has a harder time getting that sugar into a cell. When the demand for sugar (fuel, glucose) goes up, the insulin resistant person needs a much higher rise compared to the "insulin sensitive" person.

Also, an insulin resistant person will see potentially larger crashes in glucose levels (more prone to hypoglycemia) because they require a bigger rush of insulin to satisfy cellular needs. This excess insulin will often cause your glucose levels to overshoot - on the low end of glucose. The job of insulin is to clear glucose from your blood.

Did you know that your blood only has one teaspoon (4 grams) of glucose at any one time (on average)?


Things that LOWER your blood glucose - without fasting:

Anything that can raise your blood glucose can also cause it to crash as insulin rises to "push" the glucose out of your bloodstream - so look at the previous blog on this topic.

The list the follows are things that lower glucose in a good way - by helping you establish better control over insulin resistance.

1. Physical Activity:

Moving burns more calories (glucose - or hopefully ketone bodies if you own body is trained on burning fats). Exercise also increases your storage of "food in the refrigerator" called glycogen. When you can store more glycogen, you tend to be less hungry and thus are less likely to eat those foods that rapidly resupply sugar - that you know cause your insulin to spike and make you hungry again (a viscous cycle).

2. Probiotic Foods:

Foods that have healthy bacteria, such as many types of yogurt, are called probiotics. They can improve digestion and also may help you control your blood sugar. Some yogurts have added sugar and fruit, so be careful to count the carbs. Buy a high-fat (4%) yogurt and sweeten, if you must, with a low glycemic fruit like berries. Frozen berries are a good, low cost option.

3. More Vegetables:

Studies consistently show that people with type 2 diabetes who more vegetables to their diet had better blood sugar control and needed less insulin. A boost in fiber from vegetables and beans plays a role by slowing down the digestion, thus preventing those insulin "spikes."

4. Cinnamon

A sprinkle of this spice can add flavor without adding carbs or calories. Some studies suggest it also can help the body use insulin better and may lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon, and other spices are very high in "nutrient density." That is, they contain a lot of either vitamins, mineral, or other essential (things we don't make in our body) nutrient - critical to repair and recovery. Chromium is one mineral contained in cinnamon. Chromium is also associated with insulin sensitivity. Read: Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity

5. Sleep

Blood sugar can dip dangerously low during shut-eye for some people with diabetes, especially if they take insulin. For some people, blood sugar can rise in the morning -- even before breakfast -- due to changes in hormones or a drop in insulin. The solution (long term), of course, is to improve insulin sensitivity (reduce insulin resistance) so you body reacts normally to such physiological changes rather that "over react."

6. Intense Physical Activity

Remember, if you are insulin resistant, your blood sugar is more sensitive to changes, and that includes intense exercise where you burn fuel from the exercise thus require replenishment of fuel for normal cellular function. Physical activity is a terrific health booster for everyone. But people with diabetes should tailor it to their individual needs. When you work out hard enough to sweat and raise your heartbeat, your blood sugar may spike, then drop. Intense or endurance exercise can make your blood sugar drop for several hours afterward. Should you exercise? Of course. If you are diabetic (severely insulin resistant), you need to ramp your level of intense exercise up slowly as you become more insulin sensitive.

7. Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks, like sports drinks, soft drinks, sweet tea, and most drinks in a bottle that's not water, contain plenty of carbs, so at first they will raise your blood sugar. Hours after drinking, your blood sugar may drop. Even diet drinks with cheap artificial sugars without carbs will do the same thing because they spike your insulin - just like a carb or calorie-loaded sugar.

8. High Heat or Cold

Heat and cold makes your blood sugar harder to control. Why? Your body is working hard to regulate your temperature - thus requiring more fuel. Since you are insulin resistant, any time you put stress on your body you can expect to experience swings in blood glucose (sugar) because your insulin will swing to accommodate your energy needs.

9. Female Hormones

When a woman's hormones change, so does her blood sugar. Keep a monthly record of your levels to get a better idea of how your menstrual cycle affects you. Hormone changes during menopause may make blood sugar even harder to control.

10. Sweets

If you love sweets, don't despair. You don't have to give them up forever. Sugar will raise your blood sugar levels more quickly than other carbs. The more insulin resistant you are, the more sugar will cause swings, both up and down, in blood sugar. Diabetes experts now say the total amount of carbs is most important. So keep your serving sizes small and take into account the total carbs and calories. Plan for your sweets by controlling intake of high glycemic foods. And never take in a high sugar food on an empty stomach. Your body will instantly process all that sugar and send it rushing into your blood. If you have a small dessert with your meal, your sugar will be less likely to spike because absorption from your gut is the average of all the food in your stomach. Consider pairing a sweet with something with high fiber and fat. Eating walnuts with some dark chocolate is a good example of a healthy pair.

11. Glycemic Index

Find and print the glycemic index (GI), which is a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Put this chart on your refrigerator. Juice, for example, has a higher GI than whole fruit - thus fruit is a better option. Not all fruit are created equally. Pineapple spikes your sugars while blueberries do not as much. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.

Note: Healthy fats (avocado, nuts) have a glycemic index of "0" while sugar has a glycemic index of "100." Meats are also considered to have a glycemic index of "0." Only carbohydrate-containing foods have a glycemic index.

Work to get or stay well it's worth it!

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