The blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it’s also formed and stored inside the body. It’s the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it’s carried to each cell through the bloodstream.
Hyperglycemia is the technical term for high blood glucose (blood sugar). High blood glucose happens when the body has too little insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when the body can’t use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes).
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time (over months or years) can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
What causes high blood sugar?
A variety of things can trigger an increase in blood sugar level in people with diabetes, including:
- an illness, such as a cold
- eating too much, such as snacking between meals
- a lack of exercise
- missing a dose of your diabetes medication, or taking an incorrect dose
- over-treating an episode of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
- taking certain medicines, such as steroid medication
Occasional episodes of hyperglycaemia can also occur in children and young adults during growth spurts.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- peeing a lot,
- drinking a lot
- losing weight even though your appetite has stayed the same
- feeling tired,
- itchy skin, dry skin,
- it takes time for your wounds to heal,
- difficulty in concentrating,
- problems with nerve,
- blurred vision,
- weight gain,
- fatigue and infections.
- dry mouth,
- constant hunger.
Dieting for Diabetes
Dietary changes are among the first actions taken by diabetics. Not only does a healthy diet make you feel good, but you can also lower your blood sugar during the process. Carbohydrates are often a source of criticism because they affect glucose more than any other food group. But it’s important to know that some healthy carbs can actually raise blood sugar. One way to formulate a healthy diabetes diet is by concentrating on low glycemic index (GI) foods. Low-GI foods are less likely to increase blood sugar.
Using the glycemic index to choose a healthier diet is easier than you might think. “It’s actually quite simple,” says Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller, a professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney and an advocate of the glycemic index. “Swap high glycemic index foods for low ones.” See the table below for examples of these swaps.
Brand-Miller and others suggest three categories of carbohydrate-containing foods:
Low glycemic index (GI of 55 or less): Most fruits and vegetables, beans (Brand-Miller calls beans “star performers”), minimally processed grains, pasta, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts.
Moderate glycemic index (GI 56 to 69): White and sweet potatoes, corn, white rice, couscous, breakfast cereals such as Cream of Wheat and Mini Wheats.
High glycemic index (GI of 70 or higher): White bread, rice cakes, most crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, waffles, most packaged breakfast cereals.
Choosing healthy, low-GI foods is easier in Australia, where hundreds of foods carry the GI label.
Swaps for lowering glycemic index
|Instead of this high glycemic index food
||Eat this lower glycemic index food
||Brown rice or converted rice
||Peas or leafy greens