For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is an everyday part of life. The long-term complications of high blood sugar include nerve damage, vision loss, cardiovascular disease and more. In the short term, people who don't maintain normal blood sugar levels are vulnerable to diabetic ketoacidosis and diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. Diabetics routinely check their blood glucose levels in order to stay within their normal blood sugar range as often as possible.
A person who doesn't have diabetes should have a blood sugar level of less than 140 mg/dL about two hours after eating. The fasting blood sugar level of a non-diabetic is less than 100 mg/dL. Most healthy people who don't have diabetes have blood sugar levels much lower than those figures.
When a person has diabetes, his or her fasting blood sugar level will test above 126 mg/dL. This means the person's blood glucose level is elevated despite not eating for at least eight hours. When people with diabetes are tested two hours after eating, their blood sugar levels are above 200 mg/dL. A diagnosis of diabetes is made when the results of these tests line up with other hyperglycemic symptoms such as frequent urination and excessive thirst. You can find these benchmarks listed on blood sugar levels charts along with more specific information about high blood sugar levels in men and women.
Diabetics must take steps to control high blood sugar, especially when daily tests indicate constantly elevated levels. Medications are available for people with chronically high blood sugar, but many doctors recommend taking steps to lower blood sugar naturally. The best way to lower blood sugar levels naturally is through regular exercise and healthy dieting. Making better lifestyle choices can also help people to avoid dangerous blood sugar levels. Restricting caffeine intake, avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking are all things that can help people normalize their glucose levels. Reducing stress levels, getting enough sleep and avoiding illness are also helpful.
One of the best tools for monitoring your blood sugar level is the A1C test. This test is designed to indicate your average blood sugar level over a three month period. The test works by measuring the amount of glucose that has linked up with hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar level, the more glucose will be linked with the hemoglobin. If your A1C test result is high, then you need to make changes to more effectively control your blood sugar. If your test is in the normal blood sugar range, then you can rest easier knowing that you're taking the right steps to stay healthy. A test result showing less than 7 percent of glucose in the hemoglobin is viewed as a normal, acceptable result.
A person with diabetes may have significant ups and downs from one day to the next, with factors such as illness, forgetting to exercise or eating the wrong foods playing a big role in blood sugar levels. The A1C test provides a much better picture for diabetics and their doctors.
Diets to lower blood sugar often make the biggest difference. Officially known as medical nutrition therapy for diabetes, a low blood sugar diet is characterized by lean, nutritious foods that are low in fat and calories. Staple foods in these diets include more fresh fruits and vegetables than most people consume, as well as whole-grain breads and rice that are packed with fiber. Meat can be a part of a diabetic's diet plan, but lean cuts of white meat and seafood are preferred over fatty burgers and steaks. In fact, research has shown that large portions of red meat are slowly broken down into sugar, which can cause a delayed elevation of blood sugar levels. Desserts are allowed as part of a low blood sugar diet plan, but in moderation. Even better are sugar-free desserts, or desserts which lean on the sweetness of fresh fruits.
The truth is that anyone could benefit from a diet to lower blood sugar levels. Even in people who aren't hyperglycemic, the over consumption of sugar is associated with many widespread health problems. A diet meant to control blood sugar naturally promotes weight loss and an improved state of mind, both of which are beneficial for people with diabetes who already face increased risks for heart disease and other serious health problems. Eating a healthy diabetes diet is also conducive to regular exercise, which is another highly recommended method of lowering blood sugar naturally. A combination of diet and exercise, combined with getting enough rest, provides a good foundation for avoiding the worst health complications that can arise from high blood sugar levels.
People who face an increased risk of developing diabetes - such as those who struggle with their weight or have family histories of diabetes - can benefit from having their blood sugar levels checked periodically by their doctors. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed at a young age, and there's no way to detect when the disease is setting in. However, type 2 diabetes is preceded by prediabetes, which is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. An estimated 79 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes, but most won't have alarming hyperglycemic symptoms such as increased thirst and the frequent urge to urinate. That said, people whose blood sugar levels are tested may be diagnosed in time to prevent full-blown diabetes through healthy lifestyle changes.
Knowing your blood sugar range is also valuable as you grow older. The American Diabetes Association has blood sugar level charts available on its Website, along with specific tips to stay healthy and prevent diabetes. People who are at greater risk of diabetes can live longer, healthier lives by playing it safe and naturally controlling their blood sugar before problems arise.