Sugar and Your Blood Glucose Level
What is glucose?
Glucose, commonly known as sugar, is an important energy source needed by the body cells and organs. Your brain and muscles need a supply of glucose to function. Sugar in pure form is what you add to a cup of tea or sprinkle on your cereal in the morning. Alternatively, the body produces glucose from the types of food we eat. Sugar in your tea enters the blood stream within minutes whereas other types of food may be digested into glucose more slowly.
How to control blood sugar levels?
Your blood sugar levels change depending which type of food is eaten. How much a gram of carbohydrate will raise your blood sugar level is measured by the glycaemic index (GI). Choosing slowly absorbed carbohydrates, instead of quickly absorbed carbohydrates, can help even out blood glucose.
Why control our blood sugar levels?
Having high blood glucose for a short period is not a problem. However, having high levels of blood glucose present for years can lead to damage in small blood vessels, where nothing is done to treat the problem This can lead to type 2 diabetes and future health problems such as eye, kidney or nerve disease, along with cardiovascular problems including heart attack, hypertension, heart failure and stroke.
Can you suffer a low blood sugar level?
Yes, hypoglycaemia is low glucose in the blood. Most people classically get shakiness, sweatiness, rapid heartbeat, the feeling of sudden hunger. It can also effect the mind, leaving you feeling disorientated or irritable. If you think you are suffering from these symptoms then seek advice from your GP.
Consistently high blood sugar causes Diabetes
There are 2 reasons why blood sugar gets too high when people have diabetes:
- The pancreas, which is an important endocrine organ in our bodies, does not secrete enough insulin. Insulin helps glucose in the bloodstream to be used for energy. The cause of this isn’t really understood although evidence suggest it may be hereditary.
- Insulin-resistance where the cells become resistant to the glucose-lowering benefits of insulin. If an individual has either not enough insulin and/or insulin-resistance, then high blood sugar levels or diabetes will be present.
What are the symptoms for Diabetes?
Sometimes there may be no symptoms at all. If there is a history within the family then it is worth getting this checked so you get it under control. Classic symptoms will include, but are not limited to:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- General fatigue
- Vaginal infections
- Blurred vision
Sugar thickening the blood causes these symptoms but they could arise in any order or combination.
Glycaemic Index (GI)
Eating a low GI diet is the best natural way of controlling our blood sugar levels. This is important for short-term health reasons including feeling faint when glucose drops to low, or longer term damage when high, potentially leading to diabetes and other health issues.
Lists of food and their GI index contain solely carbohydrates, therefore meat, poultry and fish are not included. At times processed food may contain carbohydrates or even sugar. For example, chicken nuggets contain flour.