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Last Updated on April 16th, 2023
Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is a vital component of human health. It is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food we eat. Our blood sugar levels must be regulated and stay within a healthy range, as fluctuations can have serious consequences on our health. In this article, we will explore what blood sugar is, how it is regulated, and what can happen when blood sugar levels become too high or too low.
What is Blood Sugar?
Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is a type of sugar that is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to cells in the body. It is created when the body breaks down the carbohydrates in the food we eat, turning them into glucose. The pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
The normal range for fasting blood sugar is generally considered to be between 70 and 99 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). A fasting blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL is considered low, while a level above 126 mg/dL is considered high and may indicate the presence of diabetes.
How is Blood Sugar Regulated?
The body carefully regulates blood sugar levels to ensure that there is enough energy available for cells to function properly. When we eat, our blood sugar levels naturally rise as the body breaks down the carbohydrates in our food and turns them into glucose. In response, the pancreas releases insulin, which helps move the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used for energy.
On the other hand, when we haven’t eaten in a while and our blood sugar levels begin to drop, the pancreas produces another hormone called glucagon, which helps to release stored glucose into the bloodstream to keep energy levels up.
What Happens When Blood Sugar Levels Become Too High?
When blood sugar levels become too high, it can lead to a condition called hyperglycemia. This can occur when the body is not able to use the insulin it produces effectively, a condition known as insulin resistance. It can also be caused by a deficiency in insulin production, as in the case of type 1 diabetes. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to coma and even death. Hyperglycemia can lead to many serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage
- Nerve damage
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
What Happens When Blood Sugar Levels Become Too Low?
On the other hand, when blood sugar levels become too low, it can lead to a condition called hypoglycemia. This can occur when the body produces too much insulin, as in the case of type 1 diabetes, or if a person takes too much insulin or other diabetes medication.
It can also occur if a person with diabetes does not eat enough food to balance the insulin or medication they are taking. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to coma and even death.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Mood changes
The Role of Stress in Blood Sugar Regulation
Stress can play a significant role in blood sugar regulation. When we are stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol, which can interfere with the action of insulin and lead to higher blood sugar levels.
Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of insulin resistance, which can lead to long-term high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, low levels of stress can help to lower blood sugar levels. This is because when we are relaxed and not under stress, our bodies are better able to use insulin effectively and regulate blood sugar levels.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Both high and low can be dangerous blood sugar levels can lead to serious health problems if left unchecked. Here are a few additional tips to help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels:
Eat regularly spaced meals and snacks
Eating at regular intervals helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Avoid skipping meals or going too long without eating.
Include fiber in your diet
Foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and keep blood sugar levels stable.
Avoid sugary drinks and snacks
Sodas, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks can cause blood sugar levels to spike quickly. Choose water or unsweetened beverages instead.
Choose healthy fats
Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, can help to slow the absorption of glucose and keep blood sugar levels stable.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can affect blood sugar levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
In conclusion, blood sugar, or blood glucose, is an essential component of human health. Make sure that blood sugar levels are regulated and stay within a healthy range to avoid serious health complications. By eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, monitoring blood sugar levels, taking medications as prescribed, and seeing a healthcare provider regularly, it is possible to effectively manage blood sugar levels and maintain good health.
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