7 Top Factors For Blood Sugar Levels
The amount of sugar in human blood continuously varies. That’s because many factors affect how your body metabolizes food into sugar and how it uses this sugar.
Self-monitoring helps you learn what makes your blood sugar levels rise and fall so that you can make adjustments in your treatment. It also can help you understand why your blood sugar level may be different from day to day or hour to hour.
Food and blood sugar levels
Food raises your blood sugar level. One to 2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar is at its highest level, then it starts to fall. What you eat, how much you eat and at what time you eat all affect your blood sugar level.
Strive for consistency from day to day in the time you eat and the amount of food you eat. By controlling when and how much you eat, you control the times your blood sugar is higher, such as after meals.
You also control how high your blood sugar rises. If you eat too much, your blood sugar will be higher than usual. Too little food may result in lower than usual blood sugar. If you take insulin, this could put you at risk of hypoglycemia.
It’s also important to understand that different foods have a different effect on your blood sugar. Food is made up of carbohydrates, protein and fat. All three increase blood sugar, but carbohydrates have the most noticeable effect. Even within the carbohydrates group, different types have varying affects on blood sugar.
Your liver and blood sugar
Sugar is stored in your liver in a form called glycogen. Your liver also makes new sugar from other substances, such as protein and fat. When your blood sugar level falls, your liver breaks down glycogen and releases it into your bloodstream. This generally happens when you haven’t eaten for a while.
The continuous process of storing and releasing sugar causes natural fluctuations in your blood sugar level.
Exercise and blood sugar level
Typically, exercise and physical activity lower your blood sugar level. With help from insulin, exercise promotes the transfer of sugar from your blood to your cells, where the sugar is used for energy. The more you exercise, the more sugar you use and the faster it’s transported to the cells, thereby lowering the amount of sugar in your blood. Exercise also reduces insulin resistance, making your cells more accepting of insulin.
Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels for several hours, and sometimes excessively. Some people find that strenuous activity reduces their blood sugar for 1 or 2 days. That’s why it’s always prudent to be prepared for a low blood sugar reaction during and following exercise.
Although fairly uncommon, sometimes exercise has the opposite effect it raises your blood sugar. This usually happens if your blood sugar is very high to begin with typically more than 300 mg/dL. When blood sugar is this high, exercise causes your body to release or produce extra sugar, and not enough insulin is available to use it.
If you take insulin, an increase in blood sugar also may happen if your insulin level is very low when you start exercising. Until you know how your body responds to exercise, you should test your blood sugar before and after exercising and again several hours later.
Physical activity such as housework, gardening or being on your feet all day also affects your blood sugar. Generally, the more active you are, the lower your blood sugar. Similar to exercise, physical activity promotes energy expenditure. You’ll want to monitor your blood sugar level and make adjustments in your medications to match your activity level, especially if you deviate from your normal routine.
Medications and blood glucose levels
Insulin and oral diabetes medications lower your blood sugar level. The time of day you take your medication and how much you take affect how much your blood sugar level drops. If your medication is causing your blood sugar to drop too much, or not enough, your doctor may need to make adjustments to your dosage.
Medications taken for other conditions also can affect blood sugar. Whenever you’re prescribed a new medication for a health condition, make sure to let your doctor know that you have diabetes and ask if the medication may alter your blood sugar level.
You may still need to take a medication that affects your blood sugar because of its benefits in treating another health condition. But by being aware of its effects and following simple precautions, such as increased blood sugar monitoring, you can keep it from causing significant changes in your blood sugar levels. If the drug does make it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar, contact your doctor.
The physical stress of a cold, influenza or other illness, especially a bacterial infection, causes your body to produce hormones that increase blood sugar. Trauma or a major illness like a heart attack also can increase blood sugar. The additional sugar helps to promote healing. But in people with diabetes, more sugar can be a problem. When you’re sick it’s important to monitor your blood sugar frequently.
Alcohol and diabetes
Alcohol prevents your liver from releasing sugar and can increase the risk of your blood sugar falling too low. If you take insulin or oral diabetes medications, you risk experiencing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when you drink alcohol even as little as 2 ounces (about two drinks). If you choose to drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. To prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low, never drink on an empty stomach or if your blood sugar is already low.
Less commonly, alcohol can do the opposite cause your blood sugar to rise. The increase is due to the high number of calories in alcohol. Monitor your blood sugar before and after consuming alcohol to see how your body responds to its use.