How Much Do You Know About Blood Sugar?
When we say “blood sugar,” we’re talking about glucose
This simple sugar is the main source of energy for all the cells in your body. As your body digests the food you eat, glucose gets absorbed into your blood, which delivers it to your cells like a constantly moving buffet line.
The term is often used as shorthand for “blood glucose level,” or how much glucose is in your bloodstream (measured in milligrams per deciliter, mg/dL) at any given moment.
Too much sugar in your blood is called hyperglycemia
“Hyper” means “over” or “excess,” and glycemia means “glucose in the blood.” When your pancreas can’t make enough insulin (the hormone that helps your cells use glucose), or if insulin doesn’t work the way it should in your body, glucose builds up in your blood.
Poor sleep can throw off your blood sugar.
You use glucose faster during certain parts of your sleep cycle and more slowly during others. Don’t get enough good-quality sleep, and you’ll mess up that fast-vs.-slow balance. Some studies suggest that, down the road, this can put you in danger of developing type 2 diabetes.
Your blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL when you wake up in the morning.
Your fasting blood sugar is one way your doctor can tell how well your body uses glucose. If you’re in the 100-125 mg/dL range after not eating overnight, you likely have prediabetes. If it’s above 125 mg/dL, you could have diabetes.
When your blood sugar gets too low, your brain will notice it first.
You can’t think straight without glucose. That’s why low blood sugar symptoms typically begin with a headache, serious munchies, vision problems, and weakness. Things can get worse fast: Without a blood sugar bump, you can start to get confused, have seizures, or even slip into a coma.
Mashed potatoes will raise your blood sugar level.
Carbs boost blood sugar quickly, while protein, fat, and fiber offset their effect. The glycemic index (GI) scores foods by how fast they raise blood glucose. For example, the GI of a baked potato is about double that of potato chips. But you also have to consider serving size. While a cup of OJ and an orange have roughly the same GI, the raw fruit has much less of an impact on your blood sugar.
High blood glucose levels can make you have to pee a lot.
Your kidneys make it their mission to flush out extra glucose. They do this by making more urine, which means more trips to the bathroom. You may also feel thirsty from losing so much liquid. Very high blood sugar levels can also make you lose weight even though you’re eating, or feel tired all the time since your cells can’t get fuel.
Smoking affects blood sugar.
Nicotine changes chemical processes in your cells so they don’t respond to insulin. That means your cells can’t get the glucose out of your blood, and your blood sugar goes up. The chemical boosts insulin resistance in other ways, too.
If you take insulin for diabetes, nicotine can also cause severe low blood sugar, although scientists aren’t sure exactly how. Regardless, smoking is definitely not a good way to manage your diabetes.
Your body stores glucose in liver.
Once your body uses what it needs after a meal, your liver takes the leftover glucose out of your blood, turns it into glycogen, and hangs on to it. When your blood sugar level dips — perhaps between meals or after exercise — your liver can turn its glycogen stash back into glucose and release it into your blood to help bring you back up to speed.