A "Sweet" Topic: Let’s talk about blood sugar!

Published on October 30, 2017 by Dr. Pamela Ovadje

Another Halloween is upon us and if you are like me, you are getting very “excited” for all that sugar. Unfortunately, it is another celebration, where sugar treats and exaggerated amount of carbohydrates exceed reasonable consumption. Let’s be honest, even adults can’t wait to celebrate those trick-or-treat activities in order to get their hands on those amazing sugar high treats.  While enjoying the festivities, we need to be mindful of the fact that all this sugar may spell some doom by throwing off our sugar balance.

How does it work? Normally, the human body is very clever at converting excess glucose into metabolites that can be utilized by the body’s organs or excreted, when in excess.  When blood glucose levels are higher than normal (higher than 8 mmol/L or 144 mg/dL), the pancreas produces insulin to convert the glucose molecules into usable by-products and when blood glucose levels are low, the body send us signals to consume or to produce sugars to sustain us. However, when glucose levels are higher than normal and the glucose doesn’t get metabolized, this can cause inflammation in the blood vessels and nerves. Ultimately, it could lead to increased risks for cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases and neuropathy.

 


It is important to be aware and understand the symptoms and impact of “hyperglycemia,” (elevated level of glucose) and “hypoglycemia,” (lower level of glucose) especially for people who are diabetic. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels lower than 3.9 mmol/L or 70.2 mg/dL) include: light-headedness, dizziness, anxiety, hunger, faster heart rate, the potential for seizures and possible loss of consciousness. On the other hand, some symptoms of hyperglycemia (blood sugar levels higher than 11 mmol/L or 198 mg/dL) include: increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination and extreme tiredness. Prolonged increase in blood sugar levels becomes a risk factor for other diseases, including heart-related and eye diseases. 


These words all sound scary, especially to sugar lovers. However, there are many ways to ensure a healthy sugar balance while indulging in the goodness of sugars during special festivities.

  1. Monitor (things you check) your blood sugar levels, discuss it with your physician
  2. Manage (things to do) your sugar intake, by adjusting your meal plan and nutrition, based on informed decision
  3. Promote (things to prevent) a healthy sugar intake and healthy lifestyle by adjusting your physical activity levels and lifestyle management of stress.

Want to read more about blood sugar overload and prevention? Follow the link here.

References:

Aucoin, M., & Bhardwaj, S. (2016). Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Hypoglycemia Symptoms Improved with Diet Modification. Case Reports in Psychiatry2016, 7165425. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/7165425

Snell-Bergeon, J. K., & Wadwa, R. P. (2012). Hypoglycemia, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics14(Suppl 1), S–51–S–58. http://doi.org/10.1089/dia.2012.0031

Dokken, B.D. (2008). The Pathophysiology of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: Beyond Blood Pressure and Lipids. Diabetes Spectrum, 2008, 21(3): 160-165. https://doi.org/10.2337/diaspect.21.3.160

Nielson, C., Lange, T., & Hadjokas, N. (2006).  Blood Glucose and Coronary Artery Disease in Nondiabetic Patients. Diabetes Care, 2006, 29(5): 998-1001.