Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about signs of blood sugar abnormalities. The main effect of diabetes is that your body cannot properly manage your blood sugar, either because of a lack of insulin being produced or the inability of your body to use the insulin that is produced. Insulin helps your body use the sugar (glucose) in your blood and redistributes the sugar out to other cells in your body for energy.
Watch Out If You Have Type I Diabetes
But if youre type 1 diabetic, you’re not producing any insulin. This will, in turn, cause your body to have high blood sugar levels. Actually, your blood sugar does not have to increase that much – even go as high as 250 and you can still go into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)! There are two extremes that your blood sugar can be at as a diabetic: hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, though diabetics are way more likely to be hyperglycemic.
You’re considered to be hyperglycemic if your blood sugar level is above 130 mg/dL after not consuming anything for a while, or 180 mg/dL after eating. High blood sugar can cause serious damage to your blood vessels and veins, and if youre diabetic, you can’t process this sugar very easily.
Watch Out If You Have Type II Diabetes
Another potential danger of hyperglycemia is that if you have too high of a blood sugar level, you can develop an often fatal condition in which your body stops being able to process sugar altogether.
This condition is more prevalent among type 2 diabetics than it is among type 1. If youre worried that you may be hyperglycemic, you can watch out for a few telltale symptoms that may tip you off to it.
For example, you’ll most likely feel fatigued, since the rest of your body isn’t getting the energy it needs from the sugar in your blood. You may also experience headaches and excessive urination.
Beware of Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately get your blood sugar levels tested at a medical facility. Although its less common, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can also occur in diabetics.
Most of the time, it’s brought on by taking too much insulin, and breaking down too much of the sugar in your blood. This can also occur if you take your normal amount of medicine but also exercise more than usual or eat less than usual.
There are many symptoms that accompany hypoglycemia. Youll still feel fatigue like you would with hyperglycemia, but youll also become more anxious, shaky, irritable, and just all around more nervous.
If you notice any of these symptoms and you’re a diabetic, the appropriate response is to first drink some juice or take a glucose tablet to try to normalize your blood sugar levels. If this doesnt work, immediately get to a doctor, because unchecked hypoglycemia can be fatal.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices):
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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