What are normal blood glucose levels?
Blood sugar levels in healthy adults before eating or after an overnight fast are considered normal if they are in the range of 70-100mg/dl, while they should stay below 180 after a meal.
While insulin demand is higher in pregnancy, the body compensates for this by producing more insulin. Therefore blood sugar levels should stay approximately the same as in non-pregnant adults. If they are significantly high, this might be the sign of a condition called gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy. While the blood sugar levels often return to normal after the delivery, gestational diabetes is a sign that the mother is at increased risk for developing diabetes later in life.
Patients with diabetes who take medication for this condition are encouraged to keep their blood sugar levels as close a possible to the normal range. Since diabetes treatments like oral medications or insulin shots lower blood glucose levels, they come with the risk of lowering it too much, a condition that is called hypoglycemia and that can cause, among other things, shakiness, lack in judgment, moodiness, lack of coordination, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases seizures, coma and death. To balance the risk of hypoglycemia and long-term complications of diabetes from blood sugar levels chronically too high, the blood sugar level of diabetes patients is considered good, or in other words the diabetes is well controlled, if the fasting blood glucose levels are between 80 and 120mg/dl.
What are high blood glucose levels and what can cause them?
Blood glucose levels rise after meals, so fasting blood glucose is always lower than after-meal (so-called random) blood glucose levels. However, there are guidelines for both as to what is considered normal. Any blood sugar level outside this range can be a sign for diabetes or a condition called prediabetes which shows a certain inability to handle sugar correctly, but not to the same extend as in diabetes.
Any fasting bloods sugar level above 100 and any random (after-meal) blood sugar level above 180 is considered too high. Fasting blood glucose levels between 100 and 125 are a sign that your blood glucose control is impaired and that you might develop diabetes later on. This condition that does not have other symptoms is called prediabetes.
After meal blood glucose levels between 140 and 200mg/dl are also considered to be in the pre-diabetic range. If your fasting blood sugar level is above 126mg/dl, your doctor will do further tests like e.g. an oral glucose tolerance test in which you will be asked to drink a liquid meal with a set amount of glucose and regular blood glucose checks over the next few hours to determine whether you have diabetes. If your fasting blood glucose level is above 200mg/dl and you have any diabetes symptoms like increased thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision etc. than you might be diagnosed with diabetes without any further tests.
What are low blood glucose levels and what can cause them?
A low blood sugar levels is a condition known as hypoglycemia. Whether low blood sugar levels cause actual symptoms, and from what blood sugar level on, is different for different people and still subject to scientific debate. Nevertheless there are guidelines for when medical treatment should be given for low blood sugar levels.
Generally, since the brain is the organ that is most affected by hypoglycemia, hypoglycemia symptoms usually have to do with brain function. Most people show a subtle but measurable impairment of their cognitive functions, when the blood glucose levels fall below 65mg/dl. Significant impairment is apparent at blood sugar levels below 40mg/dl. Diabetic patients who had increased blood sugar levels over a long period of time, might develop hypoglycemia symptoms at blood sugar levels that are significantly higher than these values.
The most common causes of hypoglycemia in the US are side effects from diabetes medications, especially injected insulin. Since the effect of these medications cannot be turned off, serious hypoglycemia can develop, if mild to moderate hypoglycemia is not treated. Treatment can be ingestion of sugar-rich foods like honey, orange juice, sugar-sweetened soda etc. or in some cases injection of glucagon, the hormone in the body that functions as the opponent of insulin and raises blood sugar levels.
Repeated hypoglycemia can alter the way the body reacts to it, so that many diabetics do not feel the first symptoms, which can lead to the hypoglycemia already being quite severe once symptoms appear. Hypoglycemia can also be caused be a variety of other medical conditions ranging from hereditary diseases to prolonged starvation, but they are much rarer than diabetic hypoglycemia.
What natural ways regulate blood glucose levels and take control of your blood sugar?
There are two different kinds of diabetes: Type 1, which strikes most often children and young adults and Type 2, which is associated with obesity and therefore is most common in adults. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections as means of blood sugar control. Type 2, however, can maybe not be cured in all cases, but can definitely be helped in a number of natural ways.
The best way to treat Type 2 diabetes in a natural way and take control of you blood sugar is to change your life style. Overweight causes the body to need more insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal. This overworks the beta-cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. Eventually they will not be able to keep up with the demand and the result is Type 2 diabetes. Loose weight and start exercising and your body does not require as much insulin, resulting in lower blood sugar levels.
There are other natural ways to take control of your blood too: eating 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones can help keeping blood sugar levels from spiking too high and falling too low in between.
Some foods are said to have a low glycaemic index (GI). These foods are either low in carbohydrates in general or if they contain carbohydrates, they contain complex carbohydrates like whole grain foods, and beans instead of white flour and they need longer to be digested. Therefore these foods don’t raise the blood sugar after a meal as much as for example a piece of cake or a candy bar that are absorbed by the body very fast. Diets rich in low GI foods that avoid foods rich in sugar and white starches are also a good natural way to take control of your blood sugar.
There are many herbs and supplements that claim that they can help control blood sugar levels naturally. However the scientific evidence for most of these is inconclusive.