The most important source of energy for the cells of the body, glucose is transported from the intestines or liver via the bloodstream. The blood glucose/blood sugar level indicates the amount of sugar or glucose present in the bloodstream. Failure to maintain the level may lead to conditions like hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. When a person has hyperglycemia/elevated blood sugar levels (levels above the reference range), he/she is diagnosed with diabetes. If left untreated, elevated levels of blood glucose could lead to serious health problems like stroke, heart disease, or kidney problems. On the other hand, individuals affected by hypoglycemia experience symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nervousness, pounding heart, anxiety, etc.
Hormones that Regulate Blood Glucose
Our body synthesizes glucose when we consume food items that are rich in carbohydrates. The blood glucose level in a healthy individual is controlled by two mutually antagonistic hormones called insulin (hormone that facilitates the absorption of glucose into the cells) and glucagon. Known as pancreatic endocrine hormones, these are secreted by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin secretion increases with the increase in blood glucose. Glucagon is a catabolic hormone that is secreted by the pancreas when the glucose level in the blood decreases. This hormone induces the liver to release the stored glucose into the bloodstream.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels
The mean blood glucose level in humans is between 90-100 mg/dl. Normally, the level of glucose is highest after meals, and lowest in the morning. According to the American Diabetes Association, the pre-meal plasma glucose range is 90-130 mg/dl, and the post meal glucose value should be less than 180 mg/dl. These values indicate normal glucose levels. A plasma glucose level that is less than 70 mg/dl indicates hypoglycemia. If the post-meal glucose level exceeds 180 mg/dl, the person has hyperglycemia. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
However, some other conditions like pregnancy, lactation, severe injuries, etc., could influence the blood sugar level. Temporary increase could be observed after strenuous physical exercises. A blood glucose test is necessary to ascertain the amount of glucose present in the blood at the time of sample collection. The blood test is used to monitor glucose levels in diabetics, and also help in the diagnosis of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
Ways to Regulate Blood Glucose Levels
If you are a diabetic, in addition to the prescribed treatment for diabetes, you need to follow a healthy diet. The key to regulating the amount of glucose is by identifying food items that are good for you, along with the ones that are not.
Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cornflakes, oatmeal, wheat, etc., break down into glucose, which helps provide energy. However, excessive consumption of carbohydrates can cause a drastic increase in the amount of glucose present in the blood. Following a diet consisting of protein-rich foods and high-fiber foods could help keep the blood sugar level under control. Limit your protein intake to fish, grilled chicken, or soy products. Fiber-rich foods, when consumed with a high carbohydrate diet, can slow down the rate at which the body absorbs the carbohydrates. Diabetics should also limit their fat intake to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like sunflower oil and olive oil.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is very crucial for maintaining safe plasma glucose levels. Make sure that you stay physically active. Light exercises like walking or bicycling, if done after every meal, helps to divert the glucose from the bloodstream into the muscles. Take a 15 minute stroll after lunch. Aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, or swimming also improve the body's response to insulin, which further helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Make sure that you take the medication as per the recommended dosage. Consult your doctor, if you feel that your glucose level has dropped too low, after taking the medication. Also, inform your healthcare provider about other preexisting medical conditions and the drugs you are taking currently. This is to avoid adverse drug interactions.
While drug therapy is essential, a healthy lifestyle is extremely essential to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. So, follow the right kind of diet and exercise daily. Also, monitor your blood glucose levels at regular levels.
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.