About 30.3 million Americans have diabetes. i
And about 88 million Americans have pre-diabetes, but about 80% are unaware they have a problem. ii
Pre-diabetes increases your risk of developing diabetes (type 2), heart disease, and stroke. iii
Understanding how blood sugar (glucose) works can help you better manage your levels and overall health, especially as you age.
How does blood glucose work?
Glucose is the primary fuel to support your body’s engine.
Your food is broken down in the gut and absorbed as glucose into your bloodstream. iv
This process increases your blood glucose level, which triggers the release of insulin into your bloodstream. v
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose into cells for use as energy.
As blood sugar levels rise, glucose transporter proteins are sent to muscle and fat cells to also help with the transfer of glucose into your cells for energy. vi
Excess glucose is stored short-term as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue to be used between meals when you’re fasting.vii
While triglycerides in fat tissues serve as the long-term storage for surplus glucose as fat and extra weight.viii
When blood glucose levels soar
Increased Risk factors for pre-diabetes include: xi
- Excess body weight and fat
- Reaching age 45 years or older
- Relatives with type 2 diabetes (a parent, brother, or sister)
- Physically active LESS than 3 times a week
Chronic high blood glucose levels lead to Diabetes Mellitus I and II, usually referred to as type one and type two diabetes. xii
Diabetes type I results from autoimmune damage to the pancreas and insulin deficiency. xiii
Type II diabetes results from insulin resistance and linked to obesity. xiv
Insulin resistance is caused by excessive glucose and insulin over a long period. xv
This action lowers cell sensitivity to insulin, reducing glucose’s ability to enter your cells to create energy, leaving you fatigued. xvi
And it increases oxidative stress and free radical damage to your cells, tissues, and organs. xvii
- Increased thirst and/or hunger
- Frequent urination
- Troublesome headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Frustrating fatigue
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Abdominal pain
- Uncomfortable nausea and/or vomiting
- Traces of sugar in your urine
Other symptoms include poor wound healing, chronic wounds, and vision problems. xxi
High glucose levels negatively affect muscle and its structure-function. xxii
Whether you have pre-diabetes or diabetes or just want to stay healthy, there are many ways you can control your level of risk for further damage.
- Take your insulin (or glucose-lowering medication) as prescribed
- Avoid eating too many calories (i.e., sugary beverages)
Healthier meal planning – Including:
eating smaller meals more often
watching intake of sugar and carbohydrates
limiting alcohol use
eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains
- Lose excess weight – Even a small drop in weight can have a beneficial impact.
- Control stress – Balance a healthy lifestyle with:
- listening to music
- taking walks
- getting together with friends
- having fun!
- Stay active (exercising) – Maintaining regular activity can help your blood glucose level remain within a healthy range.
- See your doctor regularly – Tell your doctor if you have repeated abnormal blood glucose readings.
- Balance your blood glucose levels throughout the day
- Drink plenty of water
- Work with a trained coach to make realistic, lasting lifestyle changes
Vitamin and mineral supplements that help support healthy blood glucose and insulin levels include:
By maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, you can reduce your risk of these health complications.
Through medication (if prescribed), exercise, and careful meal planning, you can help keep your blood glucose level from climbing.
And that can help your overall health and well-being, especially as you age.
Take the CDC test to see if you may be at risk for pre-diabetes: