Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Understanding Blood Sugar

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Bill McBain

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Bill McBain

We’re back this week on the blog with more resources to educate and decode how to best manage (and digest) all of the health information flying around out there.

If you’re currently rocking an activity tracker (such as a Fitbit or a Jawbone UP band) you’re not alone – one in 10 Americans use devices like these (known as wearables) to track their day-to-day activity and help quantify their efforts to stay active, healthy, and/or fit. You’ll no doubt see the rise in this “one in 10” number over the next few years, but it won’t be limited to step counters and run trackers. Consumers can look forward to an explosion of sensors that will monitor important body information, such as breathing and heart rate.

An advantage of personal trackers is that they are easy to use, and give real time updates on your habits and data – with this information, you have the opportunity to take action and improve or decrease health risks. As such, there is one biomarker that is seen as the “Holy Grail” with regards to the next breakthrough in wearable monitoring: Blood Sugar aka glucose.

According to a recent Forbes piece, big players like Apple are rumored to be  the closest to this breakthrough.

Why glucose? Because with glucose monitoring, we could gain insights beyond activity, and dive into what someone has actually eaten. This is a crucial data point because diet has been regarded as having a far greater impact on health than activity.

Your cheat sheet on glucose is below. Are there others you’d like us to cover? Leave suggestions in the comments!

What is glucose?

Glucose is a type of sugar that circulates in your blood. (This is just one type. The blood also contains another sugar, called fructose)

It provides your body’s cells with the energy they need.

How do glucose levels rise and what does glucose do in the body?

Often when you eat there is excess glucose in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar. This can be harmful to your blood vessels.

Your body does produce insulin, which lowers blood sugar to healthier levels. However, over time, the body can become more resistant to insulin.

Insulin resistance leads to higher blood sugar, and can potentially lead to diabetes.

What should my glucose levels be at?

Optimal health ranges for glucose are 50-100mg/dL. Ranges above or below change your risk.

If you're using WellnessFX to track your biomarkers, this is what your dashboard/mobile app would show you regarding your risk range for glucose.

If you’re using WellnessFX to track your biomarkers, this is what your dashboard/mobile app would show you regarding your risk range for glucose.

What are some causes of high glucose levels?

Hyperglycemia is the technical term for high blood glucose (blood sugar). High blood glucose happens when the body has too little insulin or when the body can’t use insulin properly. According to the Mayo Clinic, some causes are:

  • Eating or drinking more carbohydrates than usual
  • Less activity or exercise than usual
  • Body stressors
    • Illness or infection (cold, urinary tract infection, heart attack)
    • Injury
    • Surgery
    • Pain
  • Life changes
    • Positive stress (wedding or vacation)
    • Negative stress (a death in the family)
    • Any change in your normal daily routine
  • Certain medications
  • Changes in insulin
    • Not enough insulin or oral diabetes medication
    • Poor absorption of insulin at injection sites
    • Insulin pump, insulin pen or meter (device issues)
    • Bad insulin (outdated insulin or insulin that has been exposed to extreme temperatures)

What are the effects of high glucose levels in your body?

Too high a glucose level affects your metabolic health (your body’s way of chemically processing sugar and fat for use throughout the body as energy) and can result in such diseases as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, blindness, or ulcers.

Insulin, as mentioned before, is a hormone created in the pancreas that helps the body use or store blood glucose from food. Insulin resistance can lead to higher levels of insulin and blood sugar, resulting in type 2 diabetes.

How can I control my blood sugar and get it to a safe range?

If your health is at risk from high glucose levels, you should talk with your doctor about how you can best lower your levels, especially if you plan to take over-the-counter supplements. A 20-minute consultation with a WellnessFX practitioner can also provide you with a customized actionable plan based on your own health profile.

Now that we’ve covered what some of the causes and effects of high glucose levels, here are some health best practices that can help lower levels:

Are there side effects that let me know if my blood sugar is too high?

  • Early signs/symptoms include: Increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
  • Later signs/symptoms include: Fruity-smelling breath, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, weakness, confusion, and unconsciousness.

The best way to know your blood glucose level is through regular blood testing – if you have your health data, you can take action.

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If you’re using WellnessFX to track your glucose, it keeps a (confidential) record of your risk profile over the course of all your blood draws, so you can track your improvement over time.

Your blood cells regenerate every 120 days, so we recommend an assessment via a biomarker testing, and then re-assessment every 4-6 months, after instituting new habits, in order to have an accurate picture of where your glucose (and total health) are. We also test insulin levels in our Performance and Premium packages.

Curious about where your blood sugar is at?

Test My Glucose

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.