Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in America and blood sugar levels are a major factor in whether or not you’ll develop diabetes. As a leader within your organization, it’s important to take care of yourself. It can be difficult to balance work and life, but the health benefits are worth the effort.
As a continuation of our series on the 5 Keys to Healthy Living, this article discusses how to reduce your risk for diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels in a normal range.
Understanding Blood Sugar
What is blood sugar and why does it matter? Blood sugar is a measure of the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucose comes from the foods we eat, especially simple carbohydrates (carbs), and is produced by the liver. It’s important to maintain healthy glucose levels to fuel our bodies to think, learn, exercise, and rest. We need glucose to survive, but if our levels get too high, it can create health problems. Diabetes develops when blood glucose cannot be processed properly or overwhelms the cells in your body.
What is Normal?
Normal levels of blood sugar are a Fasting Glucose < 106 or an A1C < 5.7. If your levels are elevated for an extended period of time, it can lead to resistance and possibly heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Please be aware that your glucose targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to see your doctor regularly to discuss what levels are right for you.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of high blood sugar may be:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness, fatigue or lethargy
- Slow blood clotting time/bleeding from cuts takes longer to stop than normal
If you have any of these symptoms and think that your levels are high: check with a healthcare provider immediately.
Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar may be:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Fatigue, weakness or drowsiness
- Confusion and disorientation
If you have any of these symptoms, they can be signs of a serious condition, so please check with a healthcare provider if your level is too low.
Lowering Blood Sugar Levels
In order to lower your blood glucose, you should consider the following:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. This includes fresh vegetables, legumes, proteins, grains (avoid refined ones), fruits, low sugar foods like yogurt.
- Limit your intake of processed sugars: soft drinks and other sweets or desserts that are high in added sugars. These include cookies/cakes/pies, ice cream, and candy.
Foods that can help keep your blood glucose in check are as follows:
- Oatmeal and other whole grains
- Lentils, beans and other legumes (eat them in place of meat)
- Fish like tuna or salmon are high in Omega-three fatty acids and have blood sugar controlling properties
- Lean meats such as skinless chicken or turkey
If you have any of these symptoms, they can be signs of a serious condition, so please check with a healthcare provider if your blood sugar is too low.
Here are a few tips for living a healthier lifestyle with diabetes or pre-diabetes:
- Test your blood glucose levels regularly, as you may not be aware of elevated levels
- Stick to your treatment plan (diet, medications) as closely as possible
- Know the warning signs of a low or a high blood sugar level so you can take steps to get them back in range quickly
Here are a few resources you may find helpful:
If you would like to talk about how to influence your employees or your community to better manage the 5 Keys of Healthy Living, please schedule a problem-solving session here.