Diabetes is a result of a defect in the way your body processes glucose from food and makes it available to the tissues of your body for utilization as energy. Therefore, regular (day-to-day) monitoring of the glucose levels in the body is an essential task for people suffering from diabetes. In order to do so effectively, you must understand the following:
The Connection Between Glucose and Diabetes:
Your body’s inability to process glucose varies with the type of diabetes you have.
In Type 2 Diabetes, the insulin secreted by the pancreas does not work as it should, which leads to insulin resistance. Your body cannot transform glucose into energy, which leaves too much glucose in your blood.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas does not produce the required amount of insulin in the body. As a result, the body is unable to process the glucose into energy, which leaves too much glucose in your blood.
Thus, as you can see, monitoring the amount of glucose in your blood becomes crucial.
Normal & Diabetes Sugar Levels:
The normal glucose or blood sugar levels are:
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A person is diagnosed with diabetes when the sugar levels are as follows:
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A person is diagnosed as being a pre-diabetic when the sugar levels are as follows:
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You can always use a blood glucose meter in order to check your glucose levels during different times of the day.
What Happens With the Glycemic Index When One Has Diabetes?
A Glycemic index is essentially a guide that patients with diabetes can use to understand how different carbohydrate-rich foods break down into sugar in the body, and the way it affects your overall blood sugar levels.
It is important to note that you must not rely solely on the Glycemic index as it does not address a few concerns such as the way single food items impact the blood, portions of food eaten, and the way food is cooked. You can certainly use it as a guide to refer to, but it is advisable to ask your dietician/nutritionist or doctor for advice when making changes in your diet.
When to Monitor Your Glucose Levels?
Ideally, you should monitor your fasting glucose level and the glucose level 2 hours after eating your meal. However, as diseases vary with individuals, your Doctor may ask you to monitor your glucose level multiple times during the day, or at different times.
In general, Doctors recommend that patients monitor their glucose levels
- Before Breakfast (fasting)
- Before Meals
- 2 hours After Meals
- Before Exercise
- At Bedtime
You can refer to the times and the corresponding healthy glucose levels provided in the chart below:
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The frequency of monitoring your glucose levels also depends on the types of medication you are on, and whether or not you are taking insulin. For both, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, it is essential to follow the guidelines outlined by your doctor with regards to monitoring your glucose levels. For Type 1 diabetes, monitoring your glucose levels while fasting can help you understand the way your body is responding to the insulin you are taking. For Type 2 diabetes, monitoring your glucose levels while fasting can help you understand the sugar intake in your diet and the way your glucose spikes throughout the day.
Why Should You Monitor Your Glucose Levels?
There are many reasons why diabetes patient must learn to monitor their glucose levels at home:
- Regular feedback: No two individuals respond to the same medication or food in the same way. Once you have your diet and medicines over a course of time, monitoring blood glucose levels can tell you whether your regime is working well for you.
- Stay in Control: Monitoring your glucose levels puts you in control of the disease. If you do not monitor it, you can never be sure of its progression, as the symptoms can be too subtle for untrained people to notice.
From a medical perspective, not monitoring diabetes can lead to a range of complications including:
- Kidney diseases: This includes Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), as well as kidney failure.
- Eyes: Diabetic Retinopathy.
- Heart: Heart Attack
- CNS: Stroke and Diabetic Neuropathy
- Repeated Infections
- Non or Delay in healing wounds
- Erectile Dysfunction(ED): ED or the inability to maintain an erection during sex is common among men who especially suffer from Type 2 diabetes. This occurs due to damage to the nerves caused by poor management of glucose levels.
How to Monitor Your Blood Glucose Levels?
In order to monitor your blood glucose levels.
- You will require a blood glucose meter. Using this device is quite simple; put the strips into the slot built on the meter and prick your finger with the lancet fitted into the pen and put a drop of blood on the testing strip. The machine will analyze your blood and display a number that reflects your glucose level.
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
Managing Glucose Ups and Downs:
Blood sugar levels will drop and spike throughout your life, even with careful monitoring. This is because multiple factors like diet, exercise, stress, and medication come together to help your body manage its glucose. Thus, you must not be too alarmed when you notice a spike on a random day (however, if these spikes are occurring frequently, you must consult your Doctor).
As a patient, you must take certain steps to manage your glucose and minimize these ups and downs. These include:
- Eating a diet that is low in fats
- Eating smaller but regular meals that are spread throughout the day
- Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day
- Drinking water regularly
- Limiting your carbohydrate intake
- Taking your medications on time, as prescribed
- Replacing sugar products with natural sweeteners like fruits and juices.
Diabetes is a disease that requires careful monitoring. It is natural to crave the occasional sweet treat, however, if you are prone to giving into cravings, you must make up for the lapse in your diet with additional exercise. Of course, this does not mean that indulging in sweets is alright if you keep exercising!
You must exercise your body, as well as your will power to manage diabetes effectively and live a healthy life!