Blood Sugar Swings

All day long your blood sugar swings; the glucose levels fluctuate continually as sugar is consumed or added to the blood stream. This is not only what you do or eat, but also how your body reacts under various conditions. At times, there are mysterious variations in your blood sugar levels, even though you keep strict control of what you eat and do. Knowing and understanding the causes will go a long way towards minimizing the penalties of diabetes. 

Every person is unique and reacts differently to various stimuli. The only way you could know if and how much these factors interfere with your blood sugar control is to be an experiment of one; test, test and test around these issues.


Hidden Causes of Blood Sugar Swings

Hormonal fluctuations

Illness, injuries, and surgery can create hormonal fluctuations that will affect blood-glucose. Test when these incidents occur and adjust medications accordingly.


Stress

Physical or emotional stress triggers the release of catecholamines, which are hormones that cause general physiological changes that prepare the body for the fight-or-flight response by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and blood-glucose levels.


Puberty

During puberty growth hormones and the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, can be attributed to blood sugar swings.  

 

Menstruation

Progesterone and estrogen can cause insulin resistance which last for a few days and then taper off. A few days before menstruation, the blood-glucose levels could increase. This elevated glucose level may continue throughout the duration of the menstruation for some women. With others, the blood-sugar levels drop sharply at the start of menses.

Track your blood-glucose and cycle closely and update your blood sugar profile accordingly, so that your health care team can better assist you in maintaining good blood sugar control.

 

Menopause

Hormonal changes during menopause could result in blood sugar levels be more variable and less predictable. It is often noted by women that during menopause, their blood sugar levels are less predictable and vary more.



Lifestyle choices

Daily lifestyle choices have a huge influence on blood-glucose levels, especially diet and activity levels. Some decisions can trigger severe blood sugar swings without being aware of the fluctuation or even why it occurs.

 

Sleep

In this modern world with artificial lights, all-night TV and other conveniences, it is possible to remain awake 24/7. However, our bodies have not been able to adjust to this modern environment and actually need sleep to do all kinds of reparation to be at the best when aroused. A study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, found that type-1 diabetics with only four hours of sleep increased their insulin resistance by 14 to 21 percent. This would also hold true for type-2 diabetes. It is not only important to get enough sleep, but the best night of sleep, every night.


Exercise/activity level

An inactive lifestyle is not only unhealthy and for a diabetic, it creates a favourable platform for increased blood sugar levels. Research published in 2012 shows that cutting typical number of daily steps by at least half, increases blood sugar levels noticeably after just three days of reduced activity. Increasing activity levels with such simple matters as household chores and walking more will go a long way to better blood-glucose control.


Trying any method

As for exercise, tailor it to your needs. The aim is to deplete the glycogen stores and make your cells need fresh glucose, thus becoming more insulin sensitive. The best for this is a muscle-building type of exercise, with weights or resistance bands, also endurance-type training. 

If you take any medication that increases insulin, exercise can bring on hypoglycemia. Check your blood-sugar levels before, during and after exercise and watch for signs of reduced blood sugar levels. Treat immediately if your blood sugar swings too low. If you are at risk for hypoglycemia during training, try a snack before exercising. Do not let this situation prevent you from exercising, find a way that works for you and preserve your activity levels.    

 

Heat

High temperatures can affect your testing kit, meter and strips, as well as your medications, do not leave them in a hot car. Heat also makes it harder to control your blood sugar. When it is hot, avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water, stay indoors and monitor your blood sugar closely.  

 

Dehydration

When dehydrated, the sugar in your blood becomes more concentrated. Additionally, high blood sugar triggers the kidneys to flush the excess glucose, drawing liquid from the body to do it; resulting in increased urination. Drink plenty water to facilitate the escalated liquid demand by the kidneys and to prevent dehydration. When plain water becomes boring, spruce it up with a few drops of lemon/lime or cucumber slices, else try unsweetened iced herbal tea.    

 

Sports drinks

Sports drinks are there to help replenish minerals and fluids quickly. They were not designed with diabetics in mind; most of them contain plenty of sugar, often as much as soda. Plain water should cover all your needs when exercising.  

 

Fruit

Fruits are considered healthy, containing valuable nutrients. However, fruit also includes loads of sugar, mainly in the form of fructose. Whether it is in the form of fruit juice, fresh or dried, it still has all that delicious, dangerous sweetness. For a diabetic, fruit can give an unhealthy spike in blood-glucose. Weigh the benefits of the nutrients against the blood sugar swings and decide if fruits are really worth it. All the nutrients of fruit can be obtained from other safer sources.   

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates end up in the blood as glucose, resulting in higher blood sugar readings. Therefore, it would be sensible to limit the ingestion of carbohydrates.  Leafy green vegetables contain enough carbohydrates to cover your needs, stay away from all other sources of carbohydrates.


Fewer carbohydrates mean less insulin needed.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant found in many beverages, such as coffee, tea, diet cola and energy drinks. Stimulants can compromise the body's response to glucose. A study has shown that caffeine increases average blood sugar levels throughout the day. Each diabetic's body reacts differently to stimulants; it is best to know your individual body and its reactions - by keeping track of your particular responses.  

 

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages contain plenty of carbohydrates, which will elevate blood-glucose  levels. It is best to have your drinks with food to prevent the extreme sugar spikes. It is even better to avoid the alcohol, when unable to, test and know your blood sugar reaction for each type of drink.    

 

Artificial Sweeteners

Natural foods that are sweet-tasting contain sugar. A soon as you taste something sweet, the body proactively gets ready for this influx of sugar. When the expected sugar does not arrive, the body assumes it has overreacted and therefore, needs more sugar to counter the excessive response. This need for more sugar, creates cravings for more. There is some controversy on how much synthetic sweeteners influence blood sugar, even so; it would be better to avoid it altogether if only because of the conflicting signals artificial sweeteners trigger in the body.    


Sugar-free foods

Some foods marked as "sugar-free" include sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol, which could be enough to raise blood sugar. Just because the package says sugar free, does not mean that it is carbohydrate-free, which could also boost blood-glucose. Furthermore, to maintain sweetness without sugar, artificial sweeteners are used, which should really be avoided. Make informed choices to avoid blood sugar swings by reading the labels.


Spices

Although there is evidence that some spices do help controlling blood sugar levels, it is no "magic pill." Your blood-glucose level will not get lower just because you ingested cinnamon or curcumin. However, regular use of these spices can aid in fewer blood sugar swings. View it as a long-term investment.

Cinnamon:- Large doses from supplements may cause other side effects; however, a sprinkle of cinnamon increase flavor without adding calories. There is some evidence that it increase insulin sensitivity; nonetheless, it is a great spice, not just for taste but for many other health benefits. It is better to use the Ceylon variety than Cassia, due to the significant amounts of coumarin in Cassia.      

Curcumin:- Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, curtail inflammation - the basis of most lifestyle diseases. It may reduce swelling and help ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin is an effective deterrent against diabetes by protecting the pancreas from inflammation and oxidation. For a tasty snack, try some turmeric in Greek yogurt. 

 

Medications

Medicines sometimes contain sugar and/or alcohol, especially most cold medicines. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine can raise blood sugar and are usually in decongestants, check labels and avoid.

Other medicines that interfere with blood sugar control are birth-control pills, antidepressant, antipsychotics, diuretics, steroids and corticosteroids. Ask your pharmacist about possible effects. It is also important that your doctor must know about every medication you take, prescriptions or over-the-counter.

 

Dental Health

One of the complications of diabetes is gum disease. Germs from diseased gums get into the blood stream, sending the body into a defensive mode, producing substances to counter the infection. Some of these may cause the increase of blood glucose. Brush twice a day and have regular visits with your dentist to have your gums checked.


Factors contributing to Blood Sugar Swings



Top Tips in Controlling Blood Sugar

Keep strict record of everything

In diabetes, knowing the cause and effect is very important, keeping records will make it possible to connect the effect to a cause. As more items are documented, correct analysis become easier. Record more than just your glucose levels; keep notes of meals, weather, temperature, medications, observations, activity levels and your general emotional and physical state, actually everything you can think of. Taking photos of your meals, snacks and drinks is an easy way documented it, instead of describing it in your journal/logbook. Remember to store it with the correct date and time.


Know your blood sugar trends

Use your logbook/journal to know your blood sugar profile and continually refine it. Knowing beforehand what effect a specific action will have, will give you the opportunity to make an informed and wise decision of going ahead or not. 


Measure regularly

When testing blood-glucose regularly, deviations can be picked up sooner and corrective actions can be taken faster, minimizing the long-term effects of diabetes complications. Together with your health care team develop a test schedule that works for you. Additionally, test whenever you suspect high or low blood-glucose, and check if your blood sugar has anything to do with your mood swings, whenever it occurs.


Know your symptoms during blood sugar highs and lows

Tell your family, friends and co-workers how to recognise the symptoms and what to do about it. It could actually save your life.


Have a sick-day-plan

Together with your health care team establish a strategy on how to cope in the event of illness or injury.



Benefits in Curtailing Blood Sugar Swings

Awareness of what are the possible causes of blood sugar swings, will greatly assist in achieving good blood sugar control. Better control will show improved stamina and alertness. All the negative consequences of diabetes would also be nullified with great blood sugar control. Get together with your health-care team and devise a plan and continually improve it, above all do all you can to maintain control of your blood sugar levels. 




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