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Understanding blood sugar levels and how they affect your body

Maintaining good sugar levels is key, not only for those who have conditions like diabetes which make it more difficult to maintain a normal blood glucose level. Anyone is liable to feel the “crash” after eating particularly high sugar foods, and not having a balanced diet or skipping meals can result in low blood sugar levels that make you feel fatigued and unmotivated.

What is hypoglycaemia?

Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for low blood sugar; you may sometimes hear a person or level being referred to as “hypo”. This is something that usually only affects people with conditions like diabetes where their body doesn’t release the correct levels of insulin to maintain a good sugar balance in the blood.

What is hyperglycaemia?

Hyperglycaemia is the opposite of hypoglycaemia and describes high blood sugar, again mostly only common in those with diabetes. It also affects those who have recently had a heart attack, stroke or are suffering with a severe infection.

Diagnosing high or low sugar levels

The symptoms of low sugar levels usually come on quite quickly but are different for everyone. These can include sweating, feeling shaky and dizzy, fatigue, feeling hungry, heart palpitations, sudden and unpredictable mood swings, and turning pale.

High blood sugar levels are much slower to develop than hypoglycaemia but include: increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, weight loss (often rapid), and blurred vision.

Avoiding imbalance of sugar levels

Understanding how your body deals with sugar will help you manage your sugar levels better. A simple NutriQlu DNA test can show accurate blood sugar levels and how well your body tolerates glucose as well as any flagging any underlying conditions you might not know you have that could be affecting these or any conditions you may be predisposed to genetically.

Some might worry that having sugar in any amount at all is unhealthy – not only in terms of sugar levels but because of the effects it can have on your teeth.

While it is true that it’s important to monitor sugar levels to avoid damage to teeth, sugar is also crucial in keeping the body running as it should do.

This is does not necessarily mean pure sugar, however, or the kind you might find in a bar of chocolate, no matter what our cravings tell us. The reason why we have such cravings is due to the spike of dopamine, a “happy chemical”, our brain receives when we eat high sugar foods as our glucose levels rapidly increase. The crash you get a little while after eating these can make you feel anxious, restless and, more often than not, worse than you did before.

What affects sugar levels

To avoid an imbalance of sugar levels, it’s key to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Our body gains sugar not only from foods that have it added or ones that taste sweet, but also from foods that are higher in carbohydrates which the body converts to into glucose to give you energy.

Low Glycaemic Index (GI) Foods

You’ve probably heard of slow release carbs or low GI foods. These are ones which are more slowly digested and absorbed by the body, meaning they allow blood sugar to rise more steadily. Having high GI foods will cause blood sugar to spike.

Foods high in fibre

Foods high in fibre can help to reduce blood sugar spikes. It is especially important for those with diabetes to eat plenty of fibre to help slow digestion and absorption of carbs.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can be dangerous for those with fluctuating sugar levels or conditions that affect glucose absorption such as diabetes as it alters the body’s capacity to maintain a good blood glucose level.

How to treat low sugar levels

If you experience hypoglycaemic symptoms, you can raise your blood sugar quickly by having a sugary snack such as a fizzy drink, chocolate bar or handful of sweets. Once your blood sugar has returned to normal levels (above 4mmol/L if you’re testing it), you can eat your normal meal or have a good carbohydrate containing snack.

How to treat high sugar levels

Treating high sugar levels is a matter of maintaining a healthy diet that incorporates fewer sugary foods or drinks, drinking plenty of fluid and exercising often. If you take insulin, it may also be that your dosage needs adjusting, and should always be checked with a healthcare provider.


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