High blood sugar, commonly known as diabetes, can affect anyone. A significant number of the world population suffers from high blood sugar. Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for diabetes yet; but people with this disease can live healthy, long lives.
Many people do not know that they have diabetes until it is too late. It is therefore important to educate yourself and ensure regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels.
What is high blood sugar?
Generally, blood sugar or glucose comes from the food we eat – carbohydrates specifically. This sugar is needed by the body to perform routine and necessary tasks. The food we eat is converted into glucose and then sent through the blood to all parts of the body for energy.
Insulin – a hormone made by the pancreas plays a key role in converting food to glucose. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or their body cells do not respond adequately to the insulin in their bloodstream. This results in high blood sugar.
Symptoms of high blood sugar
Most people find out they have diabetes during routine blood tests for other complaints.
Some of the symptoms include
1. Frequent thirst
2. Frequent urination
4. Blurred vision
5. Hunger pangs
6. Tingling feeling in the hands and feet
7. Wounds and sores that don’t heal fast
8. Rapid weight loss
Types of high blood sugar
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes mostly affects children under 14. It occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. And this occurs when the cells responsible for making insulin in the pancreas are attacked by the immune system.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes accounts for almost all cases. It typically occurs in people 45 years and above. With this type of high blood sugar, the cells in the body do not respond well to the insulin in the bloodstream. An increasing number of cases are being recorded in people younger than 30 each year.
This occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy and usually resolves itself after childbirth. Women who develop gestational diabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Managing high blood sugar
Since there is no medical cure for this condition yet, people with diabetes have to manage the illness properly.
With a healthy lifestyle, exercise and medication, a person living with diabetes can live a long, happy life. The following shows how to achieve this:
Monitor carb intake
Controlling the intake of carbohydrates is the first step towards managing this condition. Carbohydrates are present in nearly all types of food. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, rice and bread; these all contain carbohydrates.
Eating more carbohydrates than the body needs increases blood sugar to unhealthy levels. People with high blood sugar need to monitor the amounts of carbohydrates they consume.
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Eating sugar with a condition like this would only make things worse. Identify foods that contain added sugar and steer clear of them. To lower sugar intake, sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin can be used in minimal amounts daily.
Fruits and vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables daily is recommended for managing high blood sugar.
Red-coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant. Tomatoes, papaya and grapefruits are rich in lycopene too.
Purple and Blue fruits such as blueberry, blackberry and purple cabbage are all sources of anthocyanin.
Orange coloured vegetables are rich in carotenoids such as beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body. Carrots, butternut squash, yellow pepper, pumpkin, sweet potatoes are examples.
White vegetables such as cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, and onions are natural sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.
To get the maximum benefits of fruits and vegetables, organic ones should be chosen over processed ones.
Avoid trans fats
There are three main kinds of fat in food: Saturated fat, trans fat, and unsaturated fat.
Trans fat is a form of saturated fat that is bad for the body. They raise the LDL and total cholesterol in the body. Foods containing trans fat should be totally avoided or limited. Foods that contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat are labelled as 0 grams on food packagings. To cut saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, try these alternatives instead.
People with high blood sugar need to plan their meal and medication times carefully. It is important to take medications, insulin injections and blood sugar tests at the same time every day. It is important that you’re consistent. Aim to eat the same amount of calories, the same amounts of food, and the same kinds of foods at the same times each day.
When managing this condition, it is not sufficient to rely solely on balanced meals. This is because high blood sugar allows nutrients absorbed to be filtered out of the body. It makes people suffering from diabetes prone to deficiency in minerals and water-soluble vitamins.
Supplements, together with balanced meals, exercise and medications, can help to manage diabetes and its complications. Common supplements recommended include, chromium, vitamin D, magnesium, aloe vera, curcumin, cinnamon and fenugreek. It is important to consult your doctor since herbal supplements may interfere with diabetic medications.
Monitoring blood glucose levels
People with high blood sugar are required to check their blood sugar levels regularly. This is to ensure that the numbers are within a normal range. The best time to check blood glucose is in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
Testing is done with a blood glucose meter which is recommended for those managing diabetes with insulin injections.
Other ways of managing high blood sugar include:
- Getting enough sleep and avoiding stress as this could raise blood sugar levels.
- Regular eye checks, at least once in a year.
- Taking care of feet by washing regularly.
- People with diabetes should never walk barefooted. Nerve damage can reduce sensitivity in the skin to feel pain.
- Regular inspection of feet to check for sores and wounds.
- Quitting smoking altogether and limiting alcohol intake.
- Lose weight.
- Exercise Regularly.
Keeping your blood sugar in range and avoiding the highs and lows takes some effort. You can do this by balancing food, activity, and diabetes medicines or insulin. Remember to always speak with your doctor and follow their prescriptions or recommendations to the latter.