Food

FOODS THAT LOWER AND RAISE BLOOD SUGAR

What are hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia? How to lower or raise blood sugar levels? This is told by the expert of Roskachestvo, endocrinologist Tatyana Gorbunova.

HYPERGLYCEMIA VS HYPOGLYCEMIA

People with diabetes can have high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Therefore, someone needs to know how to lower sugar, and for someone, on the contrary, it is necessary to understand which foods increase sugar.

THE LEVEL OF SUGAR IS DETERMINED BY A BLOOD TEST FOR THE AMOUNT OF GLUCOSE

Normally, the glucose level in adults should be 5.6 mmol / l on an empty stomach and not higher than 7.8 mmol / l two hours after a meal. In children under 14 years old – 3.3-5.6 mmol / l, and in women during pregnancy – 4.1-5.1 mmol / l. In some countries, blood sugar is measured in milligram% (mg%). To convert milligram% to mmol/liter, you need to divide the indicator by 18.

WHAT IS HYPERGLYCEMIA?

Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose (greater than seven mmol/L on an empty stomach) or >11.1 mmol/L during the day, occurs when there is too little insulin in the body (helps glucose get into cells) or if the body cannot use insulin properly. This condition, as well as when the level of glycated hemoglobin => 6.5%, indicates the presence of diabetes.

A fasting blood glucose level of 5.6 to 7 mmol/L means that glucose tolerance is impaired or there is prediabetes.

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Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus occurs more often in children and young people and is insulin dependent from the very beginning of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle and old age and does not require insulin at the onset of the disease.

PROBLEMS CAUSED BY HIGH BLOOD SUGAR

A slight increase in blood glucose for a short time is not scary. But high sugar levels for a long time are dangerous and can lead to:

  • damage to the vessels of the lower extremities (angio- and neuropathy);
  • the development of vascular atherosclerosis, especially in people with high cholesterol and smokers;
  • irreversible damage to the vessels of the eyes and problems with vision (diabetic retinopathy);
  • diabetic foot;
  • damage to the kidneys’ vessels leads to terminal renal failure and hemodialysis.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis is an acute complication.
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SYMPTOMS OF HIGH SUGAR

The symptoms of high blood glucose usually come on gradually and become noticeable only when the reading is very high.

For those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is especially important to know the early signs of hyperglycemia. If left unchecked in people with type 1 diabetes, it can develop into ketoacidosis, in which ketones, toxic acids, build up in the blood. This is very dangerous and can lead to coma or death.

The first symptoms of hyperglycemia:

  • increased thirst and/or hunger;
  • blurred vision;
  • frequent urination;
  • headache.

Subsequent symptoms:

  • weakness, increased fatigue;
  • weight loss;
  • vaginal and skin infections;
  • slow-healing cuts and sores.

Symptoms of the onset of ketoacidosis:

  • vomit;
  • dehydration;
  • the unusual fruity smell on the breath;
  • deep labored breathing or hyperventilation;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • disorientation;
  • coma.

CAUSES OF HIGH BLOOD SUGAR

Common causes of high blood glucose levels in people with diabetes are:

  • Stress.
  • Eating too many sugary or starchy foods.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Missed diabetes medications.
  • The dawn phenomenon (a surge in the hormones your body produces each morning), approximately 4 to 5 o’clock).

Other possible causes of hyperglycemia:

  • Endocrine diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome cause insulin resistance.
  • Pancreatic diseases: pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and cystic fibrosis.
  • Diuretics and steroids.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs in 4% of pregnant women and is caused by decreased insulin sensitivity.
  • Surgery or trauma.

MAJOR RISK FACTORS FOR HYPERGLYCEMIA

  1.  Having a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  2.  Increased body weight.
  3.  High blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
  4.  Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  5.  History of gestational diabetes.

HOW TO CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

If you have diabetes, you should not skip or change the prescribed drug dose yourself without your doctor’s advice.

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can manage hyperglycemia by eating well, maintaining a healthy body weight, being active, and minimizing stress. In addition, insulin is an important part of treating hyperglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes, while people with type 2 diabetes may also need oral medications.

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HOW TO PREVENT HYPERGLYCEMIA?

  • Make a daily exercise schedule with your healthcare provider.
  • Follow the developed optimal nutrition plan, and exclude sugary and starchy foods.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. It can both raise blood sugar levels and lower them to dangerous levels.

WHEN TO CALL AN AMBULANCE?

Call 911 immediately if you suspect a severe rise in blood sugar and:

  • feel nausea or stomach pain;
  • breathe faster than usual, and there is a strong heartbeat;
  • experience severe drowsiness and struggle to stay awake;
  • the breath has a fruity smell (like pear sweets);
  • experiencing difficulty concentrating.

If the diagnosis shows high levels of ketones in the blood or urine, this is a clear sign of a serious illness, including diabetes.

SYMPTOMS OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR

You can suspect a low glucose level by the first symptoms:

  • severe sweating;
  • disorientation, impaired coordination;
  • fatigue;
  • dizziness;
  • hunger;
  • tingling in the lips;
  • a feeling of trembling;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • increased irritability, anxiety, or moodiness;
  • pallor.

If the sugar level is not normalized, the situation will worsen and appear: weakness, blurred vision, confusion, difficulty concentrating, slurred speech or clumsiness, drowsiness, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.

Blood sugar levels can also drop during sleep. This leads to a person waking up in the morning in bed, damp with sweat, and experiencing a headache and fatigue.

CAUSES OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR

In people with diabetes, the main causes of low blood sugar are:

  • An overdose of insulin or taking sugar-containing tablets.
  • Skipping or delaying meals.
  • Insufficient intake of carbohydrates.
  • Sudden or intense physical activity.
  • The use of strong alcoholic beverages (vodka, cognac).
  • Food poisoning, accompanied by vomiting and loose stools.

Sometimes the cause of a drop in blood sugar is not obvious. Very rarely, this can happen to those who do not have diabetes.

HOW TO INCREASE SUGAR? 

If your blood sugar level is below four mmol/L or you have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should do the following:

  1.  Drink hot tea with 3-5 pieces of sugar or swallow one tablespoon of honey or jam.
  2. Check your blood sugar after 10 minutes: if it has increased and you feel better, go to step 3. If there is little or no change, eat or drink something sweet again and check your glucose after 10-15 minutes.
  3.  Snack on complex carbs like a slice of whole grain bread or toast, or drink a glass of cow’s milk.

If your blood sugar drops regularly, be sure to let your doctor know.

HOW TO HELP SOMEONE UNCONSCIOUS

If a person with suspected diabetes has passed out or is experiencing extreme sleepiness (for no apparent reason), do the following:

  1.  Lay the person down, and check that there is nothing in his mouth (so that he does not choke).
  2.  If you don’t have a glucagon injection or know how to use it, or if the person had alcohol before the hypoglycemia, call 911.
  3.  Give it immediately if a glucagon injection is available and you know how to use it.
  4.  If the person wakes up within 10 minutes after the injection and feels better, go to step 5. If the condition does not improve within 10 minutes, call an ambulance.
  5.  Give them a carbohydrate snack if the person is fully awake and can eat and drink normally.

If hypoglycemia leads to loss of consciousness, this should also be reported to the doctor.

HOW TO PREVENT LOW BLOOD SUGAR

You can reduce the risk of low blood glucose levels by:

  1. Check your sugar levels regularly and watch for symptoms.
  2. Carry glucose tablets or sugar with you. If you have a glucagon injection kit, keep it with you.
  3. Make sure to eat all meals.
  4. Be careful when drinking alcohol. Only drink a little and snack on carbs.
  5. Be careful when playing sports. A carbohydrate snack before exercise will reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

LOW BLOOD SUGAR WITHOUT DIABETES

Low blood glucose is rare in people who do not have diabetes. However, it does happen.

Possible reasons:

  • Insulin resistance syndrome (blood sugar is normal, but insulin is elevated).
  • The body releases too much insulin after meals (reactive hypoglycemia or postprandial hypoglycemia).
  • Refusal to eat or malnutrition.
  • Complications during pregnancy.
  • Tumors of the pancreas (insulinoma), adrenal insufficiency, and some brain tumors.
  • Bowel disease that leads to malabsorption.
  • Problems with hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, or heart.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as quinine (used for malaria).

If you regularly experience symptoms of low blood sugar, see your doctor to find out the cause.

PRODUCTS THAT LOWER SUGAR AND INCREASE

Let’s figure out which foods lower blood sugar and which increase blood sugar.

Foods high in carbohydrates that quickly convert into energy increase blood sugar levels the most: rice, bread, fruits, and sugar.

This is followed by foods high in protein – meat, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, and fatty foods.

However, while carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels, if you cut them out, your diet will be unbalanced, and you won’t feel full after eating, leading to the overconsumption of protein and fat-rich foods.

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There is the concept of “glycemic food index” (GI) – the ability of foods to increase blood sugar after eating compared to glucose. It is measured from 0 to 100.

When choosing foods that increase or decrease sugar, you must focus on the GI.

  • More than 70 (high GI) foods increase blood sugar and disrupt metabolic processes.
  • 40-70 (medium GI) – these foods should be consumed with caution and in limited quantities by people with diabetes. But they can safely be included in a low-sugar diet.
  • Less than 40 (low GI) are safe foods for people with diabetes. It is from them that a diet with high sugar should consist.

Foods with a high GI cause a sharp jump in glucose, and a large amount of insulin is released. Sugar is gradually absorbed when eating foods with a low GI, so its level in the blood rises slowly, the required amount of insulin is released, and the tissues quickly absorb glucose.

FOODS WITH A LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX

Knowing which foods have a low GI is important if you want to lower your blood sugar without pills.

Product name Glycemic index
Grape40
Green peas, fresh40
Mamaliga (porridge made from corn grits)40
Orange juice, freshly squeezed40
Apple juice, no sugar40
White beans40
Grain bread (wheat, rye)40
Fish sticks38
wholemeal spaghetti38
Bean soup36
Oranges, figs, dried apricots35
Yoghurt natural / low fat35
fresh carrots35
Pears34
Peanut butter32
Strawberry32
Milk with 3.5% fat32
Bananas are greenthirty
black beansthirty
Berry marmalade without sugarthirty
Milk with 2% fat thirty
soy drinkthirty
Peaches, applesthirty
sausages28
red lentils25
Cherries, plums, grapefruit22
Pearl barley22
Soybeans, canned22
Green lentils, yellow peas22
Chocolate black (70% cocoa)22
fresh apricotstwenty
Peanuttwenty
Fructosetwenty
rice brantwenty
walnutsfifteen
Eggplant, tomatoesten
white cabbage, broccoliten
Mushroomsten
Green pepperten
Leaf lettuce, lettuceten
Onion garlicten
Sunflower seedseight

FOODS WITH A HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX

If you have intense brain activity, while lowering sugar, then you can afford more foods in the diet with medium and high GI. The main thing is to know the measure.

Product name Glycemic index
Dates146
French bread136
rice noodles131
Beer110
Shortbread106
Watermelon103
Sand baskets with fruits96
baked potato95
hamburger buns 92
Canned apricots91
Spaghetti, pasta90
Mashed potatoes90
Honey90
Donuts88
Ice cream87
Cornflakes85
Carrots, boiled85
White bread, rice bread85
Boiled potatoes 83
Steamed white rice83
Potato chips, crackers80
Muesli with nuts and raisins80
rice brown79
Canned sweet corn78
Pumpkin (boiled)75
Packed orange juice74
Millet71
Fruit chips in sugar70
milk chocolate70
boiled corn70
Marmalade, jam with sugar70
Chocolate bars (“Mars”, “Snickers”)70
dumplings, ravioli70
Turnip70
Sugar70

For those who monitor blood sugar levels, it is important to know that: 

  • Some foods change their glycemic index after heat treatment. For example, the GI of a raw pumpkin is 25. After boiling, the GI becomes 75; after baking, it is almost 85. 
  • Protein doesn’t raise sugar much.
  • Bran, when added to food, slows down the absorption of sugar.

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