Glucose is our body's primary source of energy. During digestion, the carbohydrate-rich food items get converted into glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. The levels of blood glucose or blood sugar are regulated with the help of insulin. Insulin, which is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas, facilitates the absorption of glucose by the cells and tissues of the body. Glucose is also stored by the liver or muscle cells as glycogen.
It is normal for the sugar level to fluctuate throughout the day. Glucose levels are the lowest in the mornings, and mostly tend to rise for a couple of hours after meals, depending on the volume of carbohydrates consumed. The normal range of the blood sugar in the morning is about 70 to 100 mg/dL. Our body has an excellent mechanism to regulate blood sugar levels. Glucose that is stored in the liver as glycogen, gets reabsorbed in the bloodstream, when the sugar levels drop.
Reference Range for Blood Sugar
Normally, the blood sugar levels are tested on an empty stomach, usually after a gap of six to eight hours after having the last meal. This test is known as the fasting blood glucose test. The following chart provides the normal range for fasting blood sugar levels.
|Fasting Blood Sugar Levels|
|Diabetes||125 mg/dL and above|
The following table provides the average blood sugar levels of a normal healthy adult, 2 hours after eating a meal.
|Postprandial Blood Sugar Levels|
|Diabetes||200 mg/dL and above|
Note: As per the American Diabetes Association, for people with type 2 diabetes, the normal fasting blood sugar range is 70-130 mg/dL, whereas blood sugar levels after meals should be less than 180 mg/dL
Blood Sugar Levels in Pregnant Women
It is common for pregnant women to be screened for gestational diabetes anywhere between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of hyperglycemia (high sugar level). An oral glucose tolerance test is done to ascertain whether a pregnant woman is suffering from gestational diabetes. The urine glucose test is another method for monitoring blood sugar levels in the body. It is done using urinalysis, mostly as a part of a physical or prenatal checkup. The urine glucose test also helps to diagnose urinary tract infection. If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then her fasting blood sugar is greater than 95 mg/dL and her blood sugar readings before meals range from 140 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL.
How is Blood Sugar Measured?
Blood glucose testing is done to screen healthy, asymptomatic individuals for diabetes. Glucose in the blood is measured as whole blood serum, also known as plasma. An increase or decrease in the blood sugar levels in the human body can lead to either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Blood glucose can be measured on a fasting basis, randomly, postprandial (after a meal), and/or as part of an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT/GTT).
According to the American Diabetes Association, blood sugar should ideally be measured using the fasting glucose or the OGTT which may help diagnose diabetes. However, it is advisable that the test be done at least twice, at different times, to confirm diabetes.
Diabetics can monitor their own blood glucose levels, several times in a day, to record the levels of sugar in their blood. Many home testing kits are available in medical stores, and can be bought on medical prescriptions. The method to test blood sugar using home kits is fairly simple and straightforward. A drop of blood taken from the pricked finger is placed onto a glucose strip, which is then inserted into the glucose meter; a small machine that provides a digital record, as well as a readout of the blood glucose level. The test is completed in about 30 seconds. Most kits also come with charts, where one can record the sugar level changes. These charts have proved to be very useful to doctors, while determining the need for oral medication or insulin.
Keeping blood sugar levels in check is not that difficult. Diet plays an important role in maintaining normal glucose levels. Here are some measures that you could follow to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
► A lower intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, such as white flour, bread, and white rice is generally advised, as a preventive measure for diabetes.
► Eating smaller meals at regular intervals with a diet rich in protein and fiber will help regulate glucose levels in the blood.
► People suffering from diabetes are advised to follow a diabetic diet plan, which will help control sugar levels.
► Regular and moderate physical activity can also keep a check on a person's weight, enabling him/her to regulate sugar levels.
You can use the aforementioned charts for blood sugar levels as a reference to check blood sugar levels regularly. Sugar levels may vary, depending on one's diet and the level of physical activity. However, on an average, it should be within the normal range, to keep diseases associated with high and low blood sugar at bay.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.