Blood Sugar or Blood Glucose
Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is sugar that the bloodstream carries to all the cells in the body to supply energy. Blood sugar or blood glucose measurements represent the amount of sugar being transported in the blood during one instant.
Blood sugar comes from the food we eat. The human body regulates blood glucose levels so that they are neither too high nor too low. The blood’s internal environment must remain stable for the body to function. This balance is known as homeostasis. The sugar in the blood is not the same as sucrose, the sugar in the sugar bowl. There are different kinds of sugar. Sugar in the blood is known as glucose.
Blood glucose levels change throughout the day. After eating, levels rise and then settle down after about an hour. They are at their lowest point before the first meal of the day, which is normally breakfast.
How does sugar get into the body’s cells?
The glycemic index shows how much sugar different foods provide. When we eat carbohydrates, such as sugar, or sucrose, our body digests it into glucose, a simple sugar that can easily convert to energy. The human digestive system breaks down carbohydrates from food into various sugar molecules. One of these sugars is glucose, the body’s main source of energy. The glucose goes straight from the digestive system into the bloodstream after food is consumed and digested. But glucose can only enter cells if there is insulin in the bloodstream too. Without insulin, the cells would starve. After we eat, blood sugar concentrations rise. The pancreas releases insulin automatically so that the glucose enters cells. As more and more cells receive glucose, blood sugar levels return to normal again. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen, or stored glucose, in the liver and the muscles. Glycogen plays an important role in homeostasis, because it helps our body function during starvation states. If a person does not eat for a while, blood glucose concentrations will fall. The pancreas releases another hormone called glucagon. Glucagon triggers the breakdown of glycogen into glucose, and this pushes blood glucose levels back up to normal. High and low blood sugar levels In healthy people, fasting blood sugar levels should be below 99 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In people with diabetes, the levels will fluctuate more, so the aim of managing blood sugar is to keep the levels within a healthy range. The American Diabetes Association recommend target levels for a person with diabetes between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating, and less than 180mg/dL 2 hours after eating.
How can I maintain a healthy blood sugar level?
People with diabetes need to be especially careful to maintain steady blood glucose levels, but those without diabetes should also follow healthy habits to avoid putting themselves at risk.
What is blood glucose monitoring?
Blood glucose monitoring is the regular testing of glycemia, or glucose levels in the blood. It is an essential part of good diabetes control. Many people with diabetes must check several times each day so that they can plan for activities and meals and know when to take their medications. A person can test their blood glucose levels with a glucometer, which comes supplied with lancets, or tiny needles, a logbook, and test strips. A glucometer measures blood glucose levels.
Lifestyle choices can often help to control blood sugar. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise can help.
Other tips for controlling blood sugar include:
- Eating at regular times and not skipping meals
- Drinking water instead of juice and soda
- Choosing fruit instead of a candy bar
- Using portion control, so a plate will contain one fourth meat, one fourth starchy foods and one half non-starchy vegetables
Anyone who experiences symptoms of low or high blood sugar should see a doctor, whether or not they have been diagnosed with diabetes.