Blood glucose levels can be pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. With all those different numbers and measurements, you probably have no idea what it all actually means. So in order to really understand and manage your diabetes properly, it’s always a good idea to have a solid foundation in what blood glucose is, what healthy blood glucose levels are, and how you can regularly test your blood glucose levels to properly address highs and lows. This might seem like a lot now but it’s definitely possible for anyone to understand with a little bit of research and practice – no MD required!
What Is Blood Glucose and What Does It Do?
Blood glucose is the presence of sugar in your bloodstream that exists thanks to the foods you eat! After a meal, your body needs to break down components of that meal like carbohydrates and sugars so that it can convert them into energy that the body can use to power your cells. Even though cells need glucose in order to function, they cannot complete this process on their own without the help of a pancreatic hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to signal to cells when to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and basically acts as a key to helping the cells convert it into energy. Insulin is also a key factor in the storage of excess glucose in the blood that can then be directed to other areas like the liver and muscles so that it can be used when your blood sugar is lower before you eat your next meal.
What Is a Healthy Blood Glucose Level?
For people who don’t have diabetes, a healthy blood glucose level is a number below 100 mg/dL after fasting for eight hours and a number below 140 mg/dL two hours after eating a meal. People with diabetes, however, either do not produce insulin on their own, don’t produce enough of it, or don’t utilize it properly. This typically leads them to have higher blood sugars than normal, also known as hyperglycemia. For people with diabetes, a healthy blood glucose level is between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating with 100 mg/dL as a sweet spot. However, this is often easier said than done for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes since their bodies cannot produce or regulate insulin naturally without the assistance of man-made insulin.
How to Test Blood Glucose Levels?
People who have diabetes will need to conduct regular blood glucose monitoring to make sure that their blood glucose levels do not get too high or too low. Depending on what type of diabetes you have, you may need to do this several times a day. Creating a schedule and a routine for your monitoring is the best way to stay on track and stay safe. You can monitor your blood glucose with blood glucose meters. A blood glucose meter is a device that is able to rapidly test the amount of glucose in your blood through a small finger prick so that you can quickly address hyperglycemia with an injection of insulin.
Here’s a quick guide on how to use a blood glucose meter:
1. Turn on the meter and insert a blood glucose test strip.
2. Wipe the planned injection site with an alcohol prep pad to sanitize.
3. Prick the finger with the lancet and squeeze the finger to extract blood.
4. Place the drop of blood on the blood glucose strip and allow the meter to read the sample.
5. Note the results on the meter’s screen and address according to your doctor’s instructions.
How to Maintain Healthy Blood Glucose Levels?
Obviously, one way to maintain healthy blood glucose levels is to test your blood regularly and supplement with insulin when needed. However, there are other things that you can do to help ensure that your blood glucose levels don’t get too low or too high:
- Eat a healthy diet that contains fruit and vegetables
- Stay fit by exercising
- Eat meals at set times and avoid skipping meals whenever possible
- Stay away from artificial sugars that may exist in juices, sodas, processed foods, etc.
- Plan your meals based on information from the glycemic index – focusing on foods that have a lower score, release energy slowly, and will not cause blood sugar levels to spike
Based on your condition, you might struggle with keeping your blood glucose levels within a healthy range. The good news is that there are things you can do to address this. Whether that means testing your blood several times a day using a blood glucose monitor, planning out each and every meal during the week, or following a strict natural and healthy diet – all of these things are great ways to manage your blood sugars, prevent episodes of hyperglycemia, and keep your body healthy and functioning properly.