Blood sugar is the concentration of glucose (a simple sugar) in the bloodstream.
It is the primary sugar flowing through your veins and serves as the major energy source for your body. It originates from the food you consume, which undergoes breakdown, primarily into glucose, before being released into your blood. Blood sugar works in the following ways.
When you consume carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks them down into sugar as it enters the bloodstream. This process makes the pancreas release insulin, which helps cells absorb and use the sugar for energy. As cells take in sugar, blood glucose levels decrease, and the pancreas produces glucagon to signal the liver to release stored sugar when needed. This balance of insulin and glucagon ensures a steady supply of blood glucose to cells throughout the body.
It is important to understand that excessive blood sugar can lead to various health problems. So, it is crucial to monitor glucose levels not only for individuals at risk of diabetes but also for seniors. Our body undergoes various changes and health conditions that need proper care and attention as we age. One such concern is the decreased sensitivity to blood sugar levels, which can cause diabetes if not properly balanced. So, as you age, it becomes crucial to ask yourself, "What is the normal blood sugar level for seniors?"
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
The term "normal" often describes the expected blood sugar levels in individuals without diabetes. Here are five levels of blood sugar in the US, which may vary slightly globally:
Level 1 (Fasting Blood Sugar)
(Measured After Not Eating for at Least 8 Hours)
Fasting blood sugar is measured after an overnight fast. A normal measurement of this level is 70-99 mg/dL (3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L). A 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) range indicates prediabetes, while 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher suggests diabetes.
Level 2 (Pre-Meal Blood Sugar)
Pre-meal blood sugar refers to the measurement of blood sugar levels before eating. A normal level two measurement typically falls within the range of 70-130 mg/dL (3.9-7.2 mmol/L).
Level 3 (Post-Meal Blood Sugar)
(1-2 Hours After a Meal)
Post-meal blood sugar is the measurement of blood sugar levels taken approximately 1-2 hours after a meal. An average post-meal level is typically below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).
Level 4 (Bedtime Blood Sugar)
(Before Going to Sleep)
Bedtime blood sugar is the measurement of blood sugar levels taken before sleep. A regular sugar level in this category 2-3 hours after eating should be less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L).
Level 5 (Random Blood Sugar)
(Taken at Any Time of the Day, Regardless of Meals)
Random blood sugar refers to the measurements of blood sugar levels taken at any time of the day, regardless of meals. A normal random blood sugar level is typically below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). This test provides a snapshot of the current blood sugar level and can be useful in diagnosing diabetes or monitoring glucose control throughout the day.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally?
High blood sugar, medically known as hyperglycemia, is linked to diabetes, which can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. It occurs when the body either doesn't produce sufficient insulin or cannot effectively utilize the insulin it produces. Here are easy actions on how to lower blood sugar naturally:
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Consider choosing a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. For instance, incorporate whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread, and lean protein sources like skinless poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, and low-fat dairy products into your diet. Also, choose various colorful fruits and non-starchy vegetables for your meals. Avoid sugary foods and beverages, processed carbohydrates, and excessive intake of saturated fats.
Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Water dilutes sugar in the bloodstream, aiding the kidneys in removing any excess sugar and preventing spikes. Water also prevents dehydration, which can raise blood sugar levels and trigger glucose release from the liver. Additionally, water supports overall health, including circulation, temperature regulation, and organ function.
Eat Moderate Portions
Practice portion control by monitoring the quantity of food you consume during meals. Taking this approach helps you avoid consuming excessive amounts of food, which can overload your body with carbohydrates and calories. By moderating portion sizes, you can better regulate your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes after meals.
Manage Your Stress
When we experience stress, our body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline as part of the "fight-or-flight" response. These hormones trigger the liver to produce and release glucose into the bloodstream, leading to a surge in blood sugar levels. To reduce stress and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, implement stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies.
Regular Physical Activity
Frequent physical activity can increase your body's insulin sensitivity, enabling your cells to effectively utilize the sugar in your bloodstream and lower any high levels. If you are wondering how to lower blood sugar naturally, consider at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. You can opt for swimming, brisk walking, running, cycling, dancing, hiking, and other strength training exercises.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Level of Blood Sugar Is Dangerous?
So, what level of blood sugar is dangerous? Unsafe blood sugar levels can vary depending on individual circumstances and medical conditions. However, both low and high levels can be potentially dangerous. Readings below 70 mg/dL are considered low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. However, levels below 50 mg/dL signify severe hypoglycemia and pose a significant danger. This low blood sugar level is a medical emergency requiring a healthcare professional's urgent attention.
Blood sugar readings ranging from 180 mg/dL to 250 mg/dL fall into elevated blood glucose or hyperglycemia. However, a 250 mg/dL reading or higher is dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. It is particularly dangerous if blood sugar levels consistently reach 300 mg/dL or more in multiple consecutive readings. These readings can potentially result in severe complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic coma. When blood sugar exceeds 600 mg/dL, it triggers hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS), a life-threatening condition.
What Causes Low Blood Sugar?
Ever wondered what causes low blood sugar? These levels fluctuate throughout the day. Low blood sugar occurs when it falls below 70 mg/dL. Although specific causes of low blood sugar may vary from person to person, these are some of the common causes in individuals without diabetes:
- Some medications
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Hypothyroidism, liver, kidney, or pancreas problems or genetic disorders
Causes for people with diabetes include:
- Too much insulin or other diabetes medications
- Skipping meals or having a significant gap between meals
- Engaging in intense exercise or prolonged physical activity without adjusting food intake or diabetes medication
- Drinking alcohol without consuming enough food or in excess
- Not consuming enough carbohydrates for the insulin you take
What Causes High Blood Sugar?
So, how to raise blood sugar? This condition occurs when levels exceed the normal range, typically above 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) after meals or consistently above 130 mg/dL (7.2 mmol/L) when fasting. What if someone comes over and asks you what causes high blood sugar? You can tell them these:
- Type 1 Diabetes: This autoimmune disorder makes the immune system mistakenly attack and damage the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without sufficient insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells and builds up in the bloodstream.
- Type 2 Diabetes: This form of diabetes produces insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin. Initially, the pancreas compensates by producing more insulin, but over time, it may not be able to keep up with the demand, leading to high blood sugar levels.
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can make blood sugar levels rise.
- Consuming excessive amounts of sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods can also lead to blood sugar complications in your metabolism.
- Finally, if you are wondering how to raise blood sugar naturally, a lack of physical activity and stress hormones can also cause your body's normal levels to exceed their normal threshold.
What Is a Good Blood Sugar Level?
Many people often wonder what is a good blood sugar level. A good level depends on whether a person has diabetes or not. Here are the general guidelines:
- For Individuals Without Diabetes:
When measuring fasting blood sugar levels before meals, a good normal level to have is below 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L). After eating, the typical blood sugar level two hours later should be below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).
- For Individuals With Diabetes:
For individuals with diabetes, the normal levels are different. Before meals, the recommended fasting blood sugar range is 80-130 mg/dL (4.4-7.2 mmol/L). Two hours after eating, the target blood sugar level should be below 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L).
How to Check Blood Sugar?
Checking your blood sugar levels enables effective diabetes management and minimizes the likelihood of developing severe complications. Ever had doubts about how to check blood sugar? If so, to conduct the test, you'll need to follow these steps:
- Obtain a blood glucose meter to measure blood sugar levels.
- Read the instructions provided with your meter to understand how to set it up and insert the test strips.
- Clean your hands carefully with soap and warm water to reduce the infection risk.
- Load the lancet device as per the instructions provided with your specific device.
- Place the lancet device against your chosen area and press the button or trigger to quickly prick your finger.
- Gently squeeze or massage your finger to obtain a small drop of blood.
- The meter will analyze the blood sample and display your blood sugar level on the screen. This reading is typically expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
- Note down the blood sugar reading, along with the date and time.
How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High?
Sometimes, things are not right. But exactly how do you feel when your blood level is too high? When levels surpass their typical values, individuals may experience various symptoms. Common signs of high blood sugar include:
- You may feel excessively thirsty and have a persistent desire to drink fluids.
- Increased urine production, causing more frequent trips to the restroom.
- You may feel tired, lazy, or lacking in energy.
- Affected fluid balance in your eyes, resulting in temporary vision problems.
- You may experience a dry sensation in your mouth and notice your skin feeling dry or itchy.
- Some individuals may experience headaches.
- High blood sugar can impact cognitive function, making concentrating or thinking difficult.
- You might feel hungry or have food cravings despite high blood sugar.
- In some cases, high blood sugar can lead to unintended weight loss.
How Do I Bring My Blood Sugar Down Quickly?
"How do I bring my blood sugar down quickly?" is a question many have asked at least once in their lives. If your levels are high and you need to bring them down quickly, here are some steps you can take:
- Since elevated blood sugar levels occur when there is insufficient insulin or when the body cannot effectively utilize insulin, taking this essential hormone as prescribed can lower blood sugar levels in such cases.
- Hydrate yourself with plain water to flush out excess sugar from your bloodstream and support proper kidney function.
- Engage in physical activities as they help increase insulin sensitivity. Check with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.
- Consume high-fiber foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, as they assist in regulating blood sugar levels by slowing down carbohydrate absorption.
- If you have been prescribed diabetes medication, follow your healthcare provider's instructions and take the medication as directed to help reduce your blood sugar levels.
Will Water Lower Blood Sugar Quickly?
While drinking water is essential for overall health, it does not have an immediate and direct effect on lowering blood sugar levels. So, will water lower blood sugar quickly? It won't. However, when adequately hydrated, your body can effectively remove excess sugar through the urine, supporting the optimal functioning of the kidneys in blood sugar control.
One advantage of hydrating with water is that it doesn't cause a rise in blood sugar levels. Since water is devoid of fat, glucose, or carbohydrates, consuming it will not increase blood sugar levels. This help maintains stable levels over time. To effectively and quickly lower blood sugar levels, it is necessary to focus on strategies such as medication (including insulin, if prescribed), a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and following the guidance of your healthcare provider.
Why Is My Blood Sugar High When I Have Not Eaten?
One of the biggest incognitas many individuals face is, "Why is my blood sugar high when I have not eaten?" Many factors can cause blood sugar levels to rise when you haven't eaten. Here are some possible explanations:
- Gluconeogenesis: Gluconeogenesis is the liver's process of producing glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. This action can occur even without food intake and contributes to elevated blood sugar levels.
- Stress and Cortisol Release: Stress triggers the release of stress hormones, which can increase blood sugar levels. Even without food consumption, the stress response can stimulate the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar.
- Medications or Medical Conditions: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can raise blood sugar levels. Additionally, certain medical conditions like hormonal imbalances, Cushing's syndrome, or conditions affecting the pancreas can affect blood sugar regulation.
- Insulin Resistance: This condition occurs when your body's cells become less responsive to insulin. As a result, the pancreas produces more insulin to compensate, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
What Time of Day Is Blood Sugar Highest?
What if you want to know at what time of day is blood sugar highest? Then, you should know it is high between 2 and 8 AM., usually known as the dawn phenomenon or the dawn effect. In general, the natural hormonal changes in the morning can raise blood sugar levels for both people with and without diabetes. For those without diabetes, the body produces more insulin to maintain balance, and this increase goes unnoticed.
However, for individuals with diabetes, the response is different. Due to their body's reduced insulin sensitivity or production, fasting blood sugar levels can rise even with a strict diet. The elevation in blood sugar is the body's way of ensuring there is enough energy to start the day. In diabetes, insufficient insulin response disrupts the delicate balance of blood sugar regulation, leading to higher morning readings.
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