Our body’s blood sugar (or blood glucose) needs to remain in a specific range to maintain proper metabolic health. If we eat, get stressed, or exercise, our blood sugar levels increase or decrease as a response. It is then up to our body to produce hormones like insulin or glucagon to bring our blood sugar back into a healthy range.
Glucose, the primary sugar we use for energy, is toxic if levels remain elevated for too long. This can clog arteries and form free radical causing advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), inflammation, increased triglycerides, increased risk of heart disease, and diabetes (1).
The longer your blood sugar stays elevated, the more insulin resistant you become. This breaks down your body’s ability to accurately regulate your blood sugar, further putting your health in peril. What’s worse is that during this process you begin to crave sugar more; the stuff that’s screwing you up in the first place! And the destructive cycle continues…
What Most People Do To Test Their Blood Sugar
So how can you check to see if your blood sugar is in the correct range? The most common method a hemoglobin A1c test (or A1c for short) when you get a physical with your doctor. This test measures the amount of glucose that has been permanently bonded to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. This allows a rough average over the past 3 months. The problem is things like dehydration or anemia can change the results and skew the data (2).
What I Recommend You Do To Test Your Blood Sugar
This brings me to why I wrote this article… I’m going to teach you a cheap and easy method you can do in the comfort of your own home, without needing to see a doctor, to self-check your blood sugar.
Using a device called a glucometer, you can easily check your blood glucose whenever you want. These devices can easily be found online at places like Amazon, or at any local drug store. These devices aren’t some expensive tech gadget either… some are cheaper than $20. What a deal!
Here’s how to check your blood sugar…
- Check your fasting glucose 4x per day.
- Buy a glucometer
- Once in the morning upon waking
- Once before lunch
- Once before dinner
- Once before bed
- Write down your results
- Track for 1-2 weeks
Your results should fall between 80-90 mg/dL. You might read on the internet or hear from your doctor that anything under 100 mg/dL is normal, but research is showing that individuals with a fasting blood glucose above 95 have a 3 times higher risk of developing diabetes than people with a fasting blood sugar below 90 (3). Another study found that men with a fasting blood glucose above 85 had an increased risk of heart disease (4).
So this is important stuff! And yes, you are going to have to prick your finger every time you want to get a reading… but it’s really not that bad. Suck it up! This is for science and your health! 🙂
What To Do If You Have A High Fasting Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar reading is higher than the ideal 80-90 mg/dL range, there are a few factors you need to look at…
1.) Are you hydrated enough?
I feel like a broken record here… It seems that being properly hydrated is the solution to everything. But truthfully, being adequately hydrated helps thin your blood and bring down your blood sugar. Drink more water. Do it. I even wrote an entire article on hydration. Check it out.
Yes, exercise, just don’t go crazy and over do it… For most people exercising 3 times per week is plenty. Or you can do a program like HIT, and exercise even less! The point here is to exercise adequately and you improve your body’s ability to burn and store glucose. This will more effectively keep your insulin system working properly and your blood sugar in proper balance.
3.) Decrease stress
If you are overly stressing, you’re going to be secreting the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells your body to dump your stored sugar called glycogen back into your blood so you can get some extra energy when you’re freaking out. This is a good thing for acute situations, but if you are chronically stressed you are doing harm to your body. When glucose is elevated too long it weakens your insulin function and causes additional inflammation to the body. Be mindful of your stress and practice good habits such as meditation, gratitude reflection, or getting rid of negative emotional patterns to keep the stress under control.
4.) Eat less carbs and sugars
Surprise! Carbohydrates raise blood sugar… But fear not, I’m not talking about vegetables here; I’m mostly talking about refined, processed carbohydrates. But if you do have an elevation in fasting blood glucose you should restrict the following foods:
- All breads (even whole grain)
- snack/breakfast bars
- Baked goods
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Agave nectar
- potatoes/sweet potatoes
If you really want to nerd out, try shooting for a specific range of carbs per day. Use an app such as MyFitnessPal and try to calculate around 150-200 grams of carbohydrates per day.
And That’s a Wrap!
I recommend self-testing your blood sugar with a glucometer periodically throughout the year. It’s cheap and easy and this information could possibly save your life!
So that’s it for now. I hope you found this health tip useful. Please leave me a comment below with thoughts or questions.