Figuring Out Blood Glucose
Glucose is created from the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the diet. It is a simple sugar that provides the body with the energy it needs to function on a day to day basis. Some examples of foods that convert to glucose rapidly are carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes. When there is an increase of glucose in the body, it is carried through the bloodstream and a hormone called insulin assists with its uptake to provide energy to the cells.
Why test for Blood Glucose?
Blood Glucose levels can be used to screen for and diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. Fasting blood glucose tests (no food or non-water drinks for eight hours prior to screen) are more accurate, as food and drink can have an unpredictable accute impact on glucose levels. In a lot of cases, individuals with pre-diabetes may have no symptoms so these tests are critical for early diagnosis of the disease.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes which are characterized by high blood glucose levels which result from the inability of cells to convert glucose to energy.
Type 1 Diabetes: This type is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. Most times it is diagnosed in children or young adults and it is not related to poor nutrition, health, or lifestyle habits. This occurs because the body is unable to make insulin and it is usually treated with daily doses of insulin medication.
Type 2 Diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes and it is also referred to as non-insulin dependent. When this occurs, cells in the body become resistant to the action of insulin and this elevates blood glucose levels. Lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition greatly increase the risk of this disease.
Pre-Diabetes: This condition occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but have not yet reached the range where they can be officially diagnosed as diabetes. This is the beginning stage of insulin resistance and should be a red flag that preventative measures must be taken to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Simply making healthier lifestyle changes, like considering weight loss and incorporating physical activity, can reduce this risk.
What Are Other Risk Factors for Diabetes?
-High Blood Pressure
-45 years or older
-Family member with diabetes
-Family member background: African American,
Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander
What Can You Do to Prevent Diabetes?
-Exercise at least 30 minutes five days a week
-Avoid eating foods high in fat and sugar
-Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as foods high in fiber
-Maintain a healthy weight, lose weight if necessary