In a normally functioning body, the proper blood sugar levels of 70 to 110 mg/dl are maintained by hormones secreted by the pancreas. These hormones are insulin and glucagon. If there is too much insulin in the blood, such as after eating a sugary or starchy meal, insulin is released to lower the levels of glucose in the blood. If the glucose levels drop too low, glucagon is released; this stimulates the liver to release glucose into the blood stream, increasing the blood sugar levels.
A person suffering from Type 1 diabetes will need to control their blood sugar levels through insulin injections because their pancreas no longer produces insulin. The only way for them to decrease their blood sugar level is through carefully measured doses of insulin after meals.
Type 2 diabetes is slightly different and occurs either when a person’s pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin effectively. This type of diabetes causes high blood sugar levels and usually occurs later in a person’s life. There are a number of different ways to control the blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. These include diet, exercise and medications, either oral or injections.
Hypoglycemia is the opposite in that a person’s blood sugar levels are low. This is caused by an insufficient amount of glucagon or too much insulin and is treated through diet or glucagon injections. Mostly it can be treated through consuming high carbohydrate foods or drinks. This includes all food made of carbohydrates. Examples of these foods are 4 teaspoons of sugar, a tablespoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of raisins, 5 crackers or half a glass of fruit juice or non-diet sodas.
A person with diabetes needs to pay close attention to what they are eating, because everything will have an effect on the blood sugar levels, in either a good or a bad way. Meat and fats do not contain carbohydrates, but every other type of food does. A diabetic will need to work with a dietitian to determine the number of carbohydrates they can eat in a day without causing a spike in their blood sugars. This will probably mean that 6 sugar donuts are not allowed, but a meal plan with plenty of vegetables will probably form the basis of a diabetic menu, as well as high fiber options. High carbohydrate foods can still be eaten, as long as it is in moderation and in the quantities that have been found to be safe for the individual.
Exercise is an important part of maintaining blood sugar levels. When a person exercises, the body needs a source for all the energy it is expending. This comes in the form of fatty acids and glucose in the blood, liver and muscles. It not only lowers the blood sugar levels, but it also helps the body to use insulin more effectively. The varieties of possibilities are abundant. They include aerobic exercises, resistance or strength training and stretching. Being more active during activities is also a good way to get more exercise. For example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator; walking the dog; parking far away from the entrance.
Everything that has an effect on blood sugar levels need to be taken into account. For example, on a day that very little or no exercise is done, a person will need less carbohydrates to maintain their blood sugar levels. Each individual body responds differently to diet and exercise, and that balance needs to be found and maintained in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.