Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health. High blood glucose, also known as hyperglycemia, can lead to a range of complications, including nerve damage, vision loss, and kidney disease. In this blog post, we'll discuss what high blood sugar is, symptoms of high blood sugar, and what you can do to avoid big blood sugar spikes. We'll also explore how hydration can help keep your blood sugar stable.
What is High Blood Sugar?
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar occurs when the level of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream is too high. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body's cells, and insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin signals the cells in the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar levels.
However, when there isn't enough insulin produced by the body, or the body's cells are unable to use insulin effectively, the glucose accumulates in the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia. This condition can occur in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, as well as in individuals who do not have diabetes but experience other health conditions or lifestyle factors that affect insulin sensitivity.
Several factors can contribute to high blood sugar levels, including a poor diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars, a sedentary lifestyle that reduces insulin sensitivity, stress and certain medications that can affect blood sugar regulation. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to complications such as nerve damage, vision loss, and kidney disease. Therefore, it is crucial to manage blood sugar levels to prevent these complications.
There are several strategies to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, including maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in fiber, quality protein, and healthy fats. Physical activity can also help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and promoting glucose uptake by muscles. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress hormone levels and improve insulin sensitivity. In addition, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly can help prevent and manage hyperglycemia.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
When blood sugar levels rise above the optimal range, it can cause a variety of symptoms in the body. These symptoms may include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches.
Nerve damage can occur as high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves with oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet, which can progress to more severe symptoms over time.
Kidney disease can also develop as high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste products from the blood. This can lead to an accumulation of toxins in the body, which can cause a range of health problems.
What are Optimal Blood Sugar Levels?
Fasting glucose is one of the most common measurements for assessing blood sugar health. The medical definition of a “fast” is a period of at least eight hours without food (e.g an overnight fast). The guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) set normal fasting glucose under 100 mg/dl. Anything above that would be considered a prediabetic or diabetic range.
However, newer research and clinical studies assessing blood sugar levels for healthy, non-diabetic individuals show a slightly different picture on fasting glucose averages: keeping blood sugar below 90 mg/dl (ideally between 80-86 mg/dl) can have a positive impact on decreasing the risk for metabolic dysfunction.
As for post-meal blood sugar levels, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) recommends that healthy individuals aim for a glucose level no higher than 140 mg/dL after meals, and blood glucose should return to pre-meal levels within 2-3 hours. When blood sugar levels consistently exceed these guidelines, it can increase the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes.
Again, standard ranges don't necessarily mean optimal ranges. According to newer research, keeping post-meal glucose 2 hours after eating under 110 mg/dL might predict better health outcomes. Postprandial glucose levels that are too high (post-meal hyperglycemia) defined as >140 mg/dl 1-2 hours post meal can increase your risk for metabolic dysfunction.
It's important to note that optimal blood sugar levels may vary depending on individual factors such as age, overall health, and activity level. Working with a healthcare provider to set personalized blood sugar targets based on individual needs and medical history is recommended. Additionally, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly through self-testing or CGM can help you see trends and make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to achieve optimal blood sugar levels.
What to Do to Avoid Big Blood Sugar Spikes
To avoid big blood sugar spikes, making lifestyle changes is key. Here are some tips to consider:
Pay attention to food: Foods high in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Foods like fiber-rich vegetables, low-glycemic fruit, quality protein, nuts, legumes, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping the body use glucose more efficiently. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt blood sugar levels and increase the risk of insulin resistance. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule to help regulate blood sugar levels.
Manage stress: Stress can also affect blood sugar levels, so finding healthy ways to manage stress is important. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Exercise and spending time with loved ones can also help manage stress levels.
Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water can also help regulate blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 8 large glasses of water per day, and more if you exercise or live in a hot climate.
How Hydration Can Help Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable
Water is a crucial component of our body and plays a vital role in regulating several bodily functions, including blood sugar levels. When we become dehydrated, our body produces more concentrated blood, which can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. Therefore, it's essential to stay hydrated throughout the day to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
But how much water should you drink? The answer is not as simple as the old 8 glasses a day rule. The amount of water you need depends on several factors, such as your age, gender, activity level, and climate. However, a general rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you're physically active or live in a hot climate, you may need more.
In addition to helping regulate blood sugar levels, staying hydrated can also help prevent overeating and snacking, which can contribute to blood sugar spikes. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated can help prevent unnecessary snacking. Additionally, drinking water before and during meals can help you feel fuller and reduce the amount of food you eat.
It's also important to note that not all fluids are created equal when it comes to hydration. Sugary drinks like soda or juice can actually contribute to blood sugar spikes, so it's best to opt for water, unsweetened tea, or low-calorie drinks instead.
How to Monitor Blood Sugar Health with CGMs and the kahla App
CGMs (continuous glucose monitors) paired with the kahla app can help you identify patterns in your blood sugar levels and make personalized adjustments to you diet. Alongside blood sugar monitoring, the kahla app also allows you to track your symptoms in real-time and understand how lifestyle factors can trigger those symptoms.
The app uses a unique algorithm to provide insights into your meals, such as scores based on your blood sugar data. It also provides recommendations based on your symptoms, blood glucose, and other factors like menstrual cycle, exercise, sleep, and stress levels. By tracking these factors, you can gain a deeper understanding of how your body responds to different stimuli, allowing you to identify blood sugar and symptom patterns and make more informed decisions about your health and lifestyle.
Focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to avoid big blood sugar spikes.
Regular exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping the body use glucose more efficiently.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can dilute the concentration of glucose in the bloodstream, helping keep blood sugar levels stable.
Managing stress and getting enough sleep can also contribute to stable blood sugar levels.
Consider using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) paired with the kahla app to gain personalized insights into your blood sugar levels and make more informed decisions about your health.
While there is no single magic solution for managing blood sugar levels, staying hydrated by drinking water can help keep your levels stable. By paying attention to what you eat and drink, getting regular exercise, and using technology to track your blood sugar levels, you can take control of your health and reduce your risk of complications related to high blood sugar.