Whats A Blood Sugar Spike And Why Do They Happen
Postprandial spikes are temporary high blood sugars that occur soon after eating. It is normal for the blood sugar to rise a small amount after eating, even in people who do not have diabetes. However, if the spike is too high, it can affect your quality of life today and contribute to serious health problems down the road.
The reason blood sugar spikes is a simple matter of timing. In a non-diabetic, consumption of carbohydrate results in two important reactions: the immediate release of insulin into the bloodstream, and production of a hormone called amylin which keeps food from reaching the intestines too quickly. In most cases, the after-meal blood sugar rise is barely noticeable.
However, in people with diabetes, the situation is like a baseball player with very slow reflexes batting against a pitcher who throws 98 mph fastballs: the timing is not good. Rapid-acting insulin that is injected at mealtimes takes approximately 15 minutes to start working, 60-90 minutes to peak, and four hours or more to finish working. And dont forget about the amylin hormone effect. In people with diabetes, amylin is either produced in insufficient amounts or not at all. As a result, food digests even faster than usual. The combination of slower insulin and faster food can cause blood sugar to rise absurdly high soon after eating. This is followed by a sharp drop once the mealtime insulin finally kicks in.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
- Weight fluctuations
If your blood sugar is too low, the best thing to do is to eat a balanced meal based on the data youve collected since you started tracking your blood sugar after eating.
If you dont have enough data just yet, start with something thats moderate in carbohydrate and also contains some protein and healthy fats. An apple with some nut butter is a good option, as is meat or seafood with some vegetables cooked in olive oil.
Clearly, theres a huge range in the effects different types of food have on your blood sugar.
Thats why tracking your blood sugar 1 hour after eating and your blood sugar 3 hours after eating over a few weeks can be such a valuable tool.
When youre learning how to improve your blood test results and optimize your long term health and longevity, you must have data as the foundation.
Your blood sugar is one of the fundamental indicators of your current and future health, and if you focus on this one metric alone, all the other biomarkers in your annual labs are likely to improve as well.
Ready to get to work on improving your own blood sugar levels? Interested with working with an online functional medicine doctor? The Mini Health Review as an easy first step to getting started: .
What Do My Results Mean
When you finish the blood sugar check, write down your results and note what factors may have affected them, such as food, activity, and stress. Take a close look at your blood glucose record to see if your level is too high or too low several days in a row at about the same time. If the same thing keeps happening, it might be time to change your diabetes care plan. Work with your doctor or diabetes educator to learn what your results mean for you. It can take time to make adjustments and get things just right. And do ask your doctor if you should report results out of a certain range right away by phone.
Keep in mind that blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings. Blood sugar numbers can leave you upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down. Itâs easy to use the numbers to judge yourself. Remind yourself that tracking your blood sugar level is simply a way to know how well your diabetes care plan is working, and whether that plan may need to change.
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How To Measure Your Spikes
The American Diabetes Association recommends you check your blood sugar levels right before mealtime with a blood sample from a finger stick. Then do it again 1 to 2 hours after that first bite of food.
Keep this up for a week or so. Write down the time and the blood sugar number. Make a note about anything you think might affect your levels, like medicine or exercise. And don’t forget to log exactly what you ate, along with portion sizes and the amount of carbs.What levels are too high after a meal? Experts vary on what the number should be, but the ADA says a general goal is a blood sugar level under 180 mg/dL, 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Talk to your doctor about what you should aim for, and don’t adjust your medicine without speaking to them first.
Can You Eat Before Any Blood Test
Many types of blood tests dont require you to fast. A healthcare provider will let you know if, and for how long, you need to avoid eating.
For all types of blood tests, including fasting tests, you can still drink plain water. You should avoid other drinks like coffee, tea, juices, and alcoholic beverages.
The following tips may help make fasting for your blood test easier:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water before your test makes your blood vessels easier to find.
- Schedule a morning test. If your blood test is in the morning, youll likely only need to skip one meal.
- Eat before fasting. Eating directly before your fasting window reduces the amount of time you need to avoid food. For example, if your test is at 9 a.m. and you need to fast for 12 hours, you may want to eat your last meal around 8:30 p.m. the night before.
- Avoid exercising during your fast. Exercise speeds up digestion and causes you to burn extra calories.
- Keep yourself distracted. Keeping yourself busy may help take your mind off your hunger.
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What Is The Fasting Blood Sugar Test Used For
The fasting blood sugar test is also used to test the effectiveness of different medication or dietary changes on people already diagnosed as diabetic
Fasting blood sugar levels are measured by taking a blood test after a period of fasting, usually of 8 hours without food. Typically, fasting blood glucose levels are taken in the morning before any breakfast is eaten. When having your fasting blood glucose levels take, you should not have any drinks apart from water during the period of fasting.
A fasting blood glucose test can be useful to see how well the body is able to manage blood sugar levels in the absence of food. When we do not eat for several hours, the body will release glucose into the blood via the liver and, following this, the bodys insulin should help to stabilise blood glucose levels.
A fasting blood glucose test therefore shows:
- Whether the body is able to bring down the raise in blood glucose levels from the previous meal
- How effectively the body copes with its own release of glucose
The target for fasting blood glucose levels are the same as the targets for before meal readings.
- For adults with diabetes, the target level is between 4 and 7 mmol/l
- For children with diabetes, the target level is between 4 and 8 mmol/l
However, some people may be set individual targets, by their doctor, that differ to the above levels.
Risks Of High Readings
If you experience spikes in blood glucose after you eat high-carbohydrate meals, your levels will be higher than normal for as much as six to nine hours out of each day. High blood glucose damages blood vessels, which leads to complications such as diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, or nerve damage. High blood glucose levels after meals also increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the arteries that can cause heart attack or stroke.
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When Is The Best Time To Test Blood Sugar
The preferred time to test blood sugar isnt before breakfast any more. Researchers looking at studies of hundreds of people with type 2 diabetes suggest that high blood glucose levels after meals has a greater effect on A1C levels among people who have their diabetes under good control than among those with poor control.
When A1C results are low less than 7.3 percent mealtime glucose contributes about 70 percent of the A1C. However, when A1C results are high greater than 10.2 percent fasting blood glucose contributes 70 percent of the A1C value.
If your A1C levels are above 7.0 percent, you run a much greater risk of complications. That means getting your diabetes under control needs to be your top priority. After you do that, you can concentrate on testing after meals.
But do we start counting from the beginning, the middle, or the end of the meal? And should we test one, two, or more hours after eating?
There is a great variation in the length of a meal. So it is more precise to start counting from the time of the first bite. Another reason to start counting from the beginning of a meal is because our glucose levels begin to rise about 10 minutes after the start of a meal.
Both organizations recommend that most of us test two hours after eating. While your blood glucose level could be highest one hour after a meal, there are good reasons to wait until two hours after the first bite. Writing on a diabetes mailing list, someone called Helen said it best:
Recommended Blood Sugar Targets For Most People With Diabetes*
Your targets may not be the same as the examples in this chart. Your targets are important and should be specific to you.
|4.0 to 7.0||5.0 to 10.0|
* This information is based on the Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada and is a guide.** A1C is a measurement of your average blood sugar control for the last two to three months and approximately 50 per cent of the value comes from the last 30 days.
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How To Improve Blood Test Results
Identifying the foods or meals that regularly spike your blood sugar too high, too fast, or too long can help you to individualize your diet for longevity.
After a few weeks of testing your blood sugar levels after eating various types of food, you should have a clear record of how your body responds.
A balanced blood sugar results in a greater sense of wellbeing, having more energy, preventing the afternoon crash and feeling hangry , and getting a better nights rest.
Heres what It feels like to have normal blood sugar:
- No extreme hunger between meals
- No sleepiness after meals or mid-day
- Balanced mood
How Food Affects Blood Sugar
When you eat food, your body breaks it down into essential parts:
- Vitamins and minerals
All parts are necessary in a healthy diet, but the three types of carbohydrates are particularly important when it comes to your blood glucose level. While the general rule is that the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar level, not all three types of carbohydrates convert to blood sugar at the same rate.
The foods that fit into each carb category include:
- Starches, or complex carbohydrates: Starchy vegetables, dried beans, and grains
- Sugars: Fruits, baked goods, beverages, and processed food items like cereals or granola bars
- Fiber: Whole wheat products, chickpeas, lentils, berries, pears, and brussels sprouts
The glycemic index helps you find out which foods can increase or help decrease blood sugar levels. Based on a scale ranging from 0 to 100, high-indexed foods are rapidly digested, absorbed, and metabolized, resulting in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels, while low-indexed foods produce smaller fluctuations in your blood glucose.
The American Diabetes Association advises adding lean sources of protein and heart-healthy fats to help reduce the overall glycemic impact of a meal or snack.
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Normal Postmeal Blood Sugar Levels
Checking your blood glucose one to two hours after eating can help you understand how your blood sugar reacts to the food you consume. It can also offer insight into whether you’re taking the right dose of insulin or if you need to follow up with your doctor to discuss medication and diet or lifestyle adjustments.
There are two ways you can measure your blood glucose levels: by pricking your fingertip using a glucometer or by using continuous glucose monitoring. How often you should check your glucose levels varies from a few times per week to four to six times each day. As a general rule, the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood sugar below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after eating.
However, your target blood sugar range will depend on the following:
- Duration of diabetes
Why Is Fasting Required Before Blood Tests
Fasting before a blood test helps improve the accuracy and reliability of the test. Accurate test results are a critical component of diagnosing various health conditions and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment plans.
Your diet contains a range of nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. When you eat and drink normally, those nutrients are broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream. This can impact the levels of those substances in the blood and skew lab test results.
For example, certain methods of diabetes testing measure the patients baseline blood sugar levels after a period of fasting. Eating directly before the test will cause the patients blood sugar to spike, leading to an inaccurate test result. The patient could be misdiagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, unless their doctor recommends that they complete a second test.
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Testing Too Soon After Eating
Knowing when to test and why that information is useful can help you better control your diabetes. “Often, people will test blood sugar half an hour or an hour after they eat,” says Uelmen, but this is sooner than experts recommend.
Testing too soon after you’ve had a meal or a snack will give you results that are probably too high. The solution for better diabetes control: Test fasting blood sugar, and test every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
Blood Sugar Measurement & Goals
The exact timing of blood sugar spikes can vary from person to person and meal to meal. However, on average, the post-meal peaks tend to be about one hour and 15 minutes after starting a meal. But the best way to measure post-meal patterns is by using a continuous glucose monitor . These systems, available from Medtronic, Dexcom, Abbott and Senseonics, provide glucose readings every couple of minutes so you wont miss the peak, whenever it happens to occur.
So exactly how high is TOO High? There is no universal answer. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood sugar below 180 mg/dl 1-2 hours after eating. However, no specific guidelines are provided for type-1 vs. type-2 diabetes, insulin users vs. non-insulin users, or children vs. adults.
Based on my experience, I usually recommend the following:
Post-meal readings that are consistently above these levels should be addressed by you and your healthcare team .
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The Insulin Injection Technique Is As Follows:
Insulin comes in an airtight bottle that is labeled with the insulin type and the concentration. Before using, mix the contents. It says on the label to roll it gently, not shake it. The reason for this is to prevent foam formation which will make accurate measuring difficult. Some of the types of insulin used in dogs have a strong tendency to settle out of suspension. If it is not shaken properly, it will not mix well, and dosing will not be accurate. Therefore, the trick is to shake it vigorously enough to mix it without creating foam. Since bubbles can be removed , it is more important to mix it well than to worry about foam formation. When you have finished shaking it, turn the bottle upside down to see if any white powder adheres to the bottle. If so, more shaking is needed.
Insulin is a hormone that will lose its effectiveness if exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures. It should be kept in the refrigerator, but it should not be frozen. It is not ruined if left out of the refrigerator for a day or two and not exposed to direct sunlight, although this is not advisable. Insulin is safe as long as it is used as directed, but it should be kept out of the reach of children.
Why Do People Get Blood Sugar Spikes After Meals
When people eat a meal, especially when it contains carbohydrates, it is normal for them to have a temporary spike in their sugar level before the insulin their body produces immediately starts working to lower the spike. For someone with type 1 diabetes, who cant produce their own insulin, these spikes can be higher and last longer.
This is because it can take longer for the type of insulin they inject to start working, in comparison to the insulin that is produced naturally by the body of someone who does not have diabetes, to reduce these post-meal spikes.
Furthermore, it is important to know that people living with type 1 diabetes may have alterations in different digestive enzymes which will cause faster digestion of our meals . This can obviously impact on the size of the spike too.
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