Managing Glucose Levels: What You Need to Know
High blood sugar is a global health concern. With a rise in sedentary lifestyles and inactivity, the problem is only set to grow further. The most obvious result of high blood sugar over a prolonged and continuous period is diabetes. Over four hundred million adults were found to be diabetic in 2014. The prevalence of diabetes among adults is another issue that needs to be addressed effectively. Diabetes prevalence stood at 8.5% in 2014, almost doubling since the previous survey in 1980.
Diabetes can be categorized into three varieties:
- Type-1 Diabetes
- Type-2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
Type-1 diabetes is a condition that arises in childhood or at birth due to the incapability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Though not completely understood, the condition involves the immune system attacking and destroying the insulin-producing alpha cells in the pancreas. The disease also has a hereditary and genetic component. Conversely, type-2 diabetes is most commonly found in adults. It results from the inadequate production of insulin, or the resistance of the body’s cells to insulin, or a combination of both. Type-2 diabetes is on the rise due to factors like obesity, an unhealthy lifestyle, and food habits. The condition is increasingly being reported in younger adults and is a major cause for worry to healthcare providers.
The third variant of diabetes occurs in women who are in either the second or third trimester of pregnancy. This condition is caused in women due to hormones like human placental lactogen and other hormones boosting insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes is more likely to occur in women who have a family history of diabetes, have elevated blood pressure, and other conditions making them more vulnerable to high blood sugar, like PCOS and Hyperthyroidism.
The easiest method to keep diabetes in check is to monitor your blood glucose by taking a blood glucose test. This test also helps you modify your diet to avoid serious complications. Many adults struggle with clearing their diabetes tests, be it type-2 or gestational. However, a few simple tweaks in your diet and lifestyle can help you keep your blood sugar in check and pass the glucose test, avoiding the rigmarole of further complicated testing. Read on to know more about how you can pass the glucose test.
How to Manage Your Blood Glucose Levels
Be it type- 1, type- 2, or gestational diabetes, it is important to keep your blood sugar level under control via a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and exercise. Here are some ways to safely lower your blood sugar:
- Eat A Balanced Diet: A lot of people load up on a lot of carbohydrates throughout the day. Easy to digest and refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index and can raise the blood sugar level soon after having a meal. The key is to balance out the extent of carbs in your meal with protein and unsaturated fat. Diets high in protein have shown results in managing blood glucose levels. It is also important to consume foods like nuts, olives, and avocados as they contain essential fats significant to your diet. Avoid saturated and trans-fat as they tend to worsen high blood glucose levels in diabetics. Be sure not to cut out complex carbohydrates from your diet, though. Complex carbohydrates are processed slowly by the body and cause a sustained release of sugar instead of sudden spikes. Complex carbs also aid in maintaining good gut health and help you maintain blood sugar within the desired range. Another important aspect of your diet is fiber. Dietary fiber is rich in several minerals and retains a lot of water. Fiber aids in regular bowel movements and the upkeep of a toxin-free body.
- Monitor Blood Glucose Regularly: It is important to keep a constant eye on your blood sugar levels to avoid serious complications from diabetes. Most people take a blood sugar test only when they visit a doctor’s office. However, it is important that you get either a glucometer or you get a continuous glucose monitor put in.Some common blood sugar tests are:
- Fasting blood sugar: Taken immediately after waking up or after a period of fasting.
- Post Prandial blood sugar: Taken after having a meal.
- Before and after eating a meal: To assess the rise in blood sugar following a meal and to analyze the necessity of an insulin shot.
- Random blood sugar: Taken at any given time of the day without any prerequisites.
- Watch Your Weight: People that are overweight and obese have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Obese individuals have a tougher time managing their blood glucose levels as well. Be sure to exercise regularly and maintain an active lifestyle with ample amounts of outdoor time. Exercise helps manage high blood glucose, lowers the risk of complications from prolonged diabetes, and improves overall cardiac health. Exercising regularly and maintaining your weight also lowers high levels of cholesterol, a factor that worsens high blood sugar.
- Drink A Lot of Water: If you’re diabetic and are also someone who likes their sugary soda, it’s probably best to switch to water. Water helps you maintain a clean system and helps to flush out toxins. It activates the diuretic response and aids the kidneys to filter and flush out excess blood sugar. Regular hydration is also very important for maintaining good health and bodily balance.
- Cut Out Stress: Studies show that stress harms blood sugar levels. A lot of the diabetics suffering from unmanageable high blood glucose levels are also people who suffer from constant stress and anxiety. Try to reduce stress by holistic practices like yoga and meditation. If you still have trouble managing your stress levels, consider visiting a doctor.
- Sleep Adequately: There is a direct link between insomnia and insulin resistance. A lack of sleep causes an increase in insulin resistance and results in high blood sugar levels. If you’re unable to sleep well even after sustained efforts and home remedies, consider visiting your healthcare provider.
Being aware of these factors affecting your blood sugar level and abiding by the best practices available are quintessential to maintaining a low blood sugar level, and passing the glucose test.
Gestational Diabetes & Oral Glucose Tolerance Tests
Another concerning variant of high blood sugar is gestational diabetes. This is also known as gestational diabetes mellitus and develops in about 20% of all pregnancies. Most cases are seen in either the second or third trimester of the pregnancy and result in high blood sugar. Though gestational diabetes does not mean you had diabetes before getting pregnant, or that you certainly will following your pregnancy, it raises the risks of developing diabetes later on in life. Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can cause a complicated pregnancy and might also raise the stakes for your child to develop diabetes in the long run.
Oral Glucose tolerance tests are carried out for women that have suspected gestational diabetes, or to screen people for type- 2 diabetes mellitus. This includes the following types of people:
- Obese and overweight individuals
- Individuals with a family history of diabetes
- Suffer from hyperthyroidism or PCOS
- Have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Suffer from chronic hypertension
- Have had a previous incidence of gestational diabetes in a past pregnancy
All women taking the 3-hour glucose tolerance tests need to be prepared before the examination. Read on to know more about the 3-hour glucose test preparation.
3-Hour Glucose Test Preparation
Many people are often left wondering about how to prepare for the 3-hour glucose test since it’s made out to be a big deal. However, it is important to remain calm and follow all of your doctor’s instructions until you come in and get tested.
- What to Do Before the Test
Be sure to eat and drink as you would on any normal day in the days before the test. For fasting blood sugar tests, you’ll be expected to not eat anything at least 8 hours before the test. This applies to both potential type- 2 diabetics and women being tested for gestational diabetes. It is better to have your 3-hour glucose test scheduled in the morning to avoid fasting throughout the day.
- The Results
- For Diabetics: Values for the test results are-
- For fasting blood sugar: <100mg/dL
- For postprandial blood sugar (2 hours after drinking the sugar solution): <140mg/dL
- Prediabetes: Between 140-199mg/dL
- Diabetes: 200mg/dL or greater
Any deviations from the values might warrant further testing to confirm your diagnosis of type-2 diabetes.
- For Gestational Diabetes: Values for the test results are-
- For fasting blood sugar: <100mg/dL
- One hour after having the sugar solution: <180mg/dL
- Two hours after having the sugar solution: <155mg/dL
- Three hours after having the sugar solution: <140mg/dL
A higher value in these tests hints at gestational diabetes, however, your doctor will test again in about a month to be sure. If a similar pattern seems to be noticed in the second test, you likely have gestational diabetes.
A common question raised by several patients is about the diet to follow preceding a glucose test. Many women testing for gestational diabetes look to maintain low blood sugar before the test. Though there’s no way to rig the test, there are certain dietary habits that will help you mitigate your blood sugar. We look at what to eat before glucose tests in the final part of this article.
What To Eat Before a Glucose Test
- Before your test, you can consider eating healthy options like:
- Vegetables & fruit
- Whole-grain and whole-grain products
- Millets and lentils
- Beans and other legumes
- Nuts and olives
- Low-fat milk
- Low starch variants of rice and other cereals
- Aged cheeses with low trans-fat content
- Protein-rich food like soy and unprocessed meat
- Be sure to avoid foods like:
- Foods with added sugar
- Processed and refined foods
- Candies and pastries
- White bread and pasta made of refined flour
- Sodas, and processed fruit juices
- Sugary drinks and smoothies
- Be sure to fast for eight hours before the test. You cannot eat anything or drink any caloric drinks for the period.
Irrespective of your diagnosis, be sure to follow the physician’s instructions and advice. Try to talk to your healthcare provider about a diet plan that suits you. Managing blood sugar doesn’t have to be tedious, be sure to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments, and go by the doctor’s advice.