Things That Make You Have High Blood Sugar Levels

Your recent blood glucose level was high despite your best efforts to control your diabetes with diet, exercise, and medication. Some possible suspects are listed below.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor has likely stressed the need of keeping your blood sugar levels under control.

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDCES, a certified personal trainer in Prescott, Arizona and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health, states, “Controlling blood sugar is critical for two main reasons.” When blood sugar levels are maintained within a healthy range, people report feeling better on a daily basis. It’s the most effective long-term strategy for avoiding diabetes-related problems. The American Diabetes Association lists nerve damage, kidney illness, skin disorders, eye damage, cardiovascular disease, and stroke as the complications of diabetes.

A high carbohydrate diet is often cited as a major cause of hyperglycemia since all that extra glucose has to go somewhere (glucose). She says that the most common foods to cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels are those that are high in carbohydrates (such white bread, white-flour pasta, sugary drinks, and french fries).

“Many individuals with diabetes also get into difficulties with processed meals, which include additional sugars they may not be aware of,” says Gregory Dodell, MD, assistant clinical professor of endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes can be managed by eating a diabetic-friendly diet, increasing physical exercise, sometimes taking medication, and keeping close tabs on blood sugar levels.

But other causes of hyperglycemia are beyond your control or can creep up on you. Even if you think you’re doing everything properly to control your diabetes, triggers like these might make it difficult to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

 

1. Artificial Sweeteners May Cause Hyperglycemia in the Long Run

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Most patients with type 2 diabetes should avoid drinking regular soda, but diet soda should be fine, right? It’s possible that’s not the case. Long-term consumption of zero-calorie artificial sweeteners, such as those found in diet sodas and those frequently added to coffee and tea, may raise blood sugar levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care in January 2020. The study’s authors claim that artificial sweeteners have a negative impact on insulin resistance and the body’s capacity to maintain consistent blood sugar levels after consumption.

Nonetheless, Dr. Dodell says that the effects of artificial sweeteners on blood sugar are probably smaller than those of true sugar. As a rule, “diet soda” is preferable than “normal soda.” However, he underlines the importance of moderation and suggests substituting water for soda (both regular and diet) to improve blood sugar levels.

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association released a scientific advisory in 2018 acknowledging that these sugar alternatives can be a temporary option for people weaning off sugary beverages but asserting that they should not be used over the long term due to the unknown health effects.

2. Foods High in Saturated Fat Have the Potential to Worsen Insulin Resistance

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Carbohydrates are a major focus in the discussion of type 2 diabetes. But diabetics need to be especially careful with all types of diet, not just carbohydrates. Examples of such research include a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in February 2017 which indicated that high-fat diets, particularly saturated fat in particular, promote insulin resistance. However, the researchers found that dietary fat affected insulin resistance even in those who maintained a steady weight but did not see an increase in abdominal fat despite being overweight.

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When consumed as part of a well-rounded meal, the healthful fats found in foods like nuts, avocado, and salmon can help slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream and even promote heart health, as noted by the American Heart Association. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep an eye on how much fat you’re consuming, Grieger says. Current federal standards recommend that roughly 20-35% of your daily calories come from fat, with less than 10% coming from saturated fat found in foods like cheese, red meat, fried foods, and baked goods.

3. Skipping Breakfast Can Lead to Higher Blood Sugar All Day

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Some research suggests that persons with type 2 diabetes may benefit even more from a hearty breakfast than those without the disease. For instance, in a pilot trial published in Diabetes Care in July 2015, researchers monitored the diets and blood sugar levels of 22 persons with type 2 diabetes over the course of two days. There was no significant variation in the subjects’ dietary intake across days, with the exception of their morning breakfast consumption. Research indicated that participants’ blood sugar levels were consistently higher on the day when they did not have breakfast. Scientific studies suggest that not eating breakfast may have a negative impact on insulin production by the beta cells in the pancreas.

But bear in mind, warns Grieger, that hardly any breakfast will do when it comes to maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. She stresses the need of a healthy morning meal. “I advocate for individuals to expand their horizons and consider alternatives. The combination of sugary cereal and a large glass of juice is not beneficial. She suggests low-carbohydrate breakfast options such scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes for people with diabetes.

4. Hormonal Changes in Menstruation Tend to Mess With Blood Sugar Levels

The menstrual cycle is well-known for causing mood swings and certain food cravings, but did you know that it can also induce blood sugar level changes? Dodell notes that “blood sugar surges” occur for a few days during the ovulatory phase and then again in the final week of the cycle, in the days leading up to the commencement of a period. “This is because of high amounts of estrogen and progesterone.” Additionally significant: Perimenopausal women, due to fluctuating hormone levels and menstrual cycles, may experience erratic blood sugar levels, explains Grieger.

The Mayo Clinic suggests keeping track of your blood sugar readings on a monthly basis if you notice that your levels fluctuate throughout the month based on your menstrual cycle. You and your doctor would be better able to manage your condition if you could identify a pattern in your blood sugar fluctuations.

5. Physical Inactivity Can Elevate Blood Sugar in a Matter of Days

In order to control type 2 diabetes, physical activity is crucial. Physical activity boosts insulin sensitivity, which allows cells to more efficiently take glucose from the blood and use it for energy, as well as helping you maintain or lose weight and reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease, adds Grieger. People with type 2 diabetes may be able to lessen their reliance on glucose-lowering medicine and insulin if they engage in regular exercise, suggests an analysis published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in March 2020.

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Instead, sedentary lifestyles can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. In healthy, regularly active people, blood sugar levels rise after just three days of reduced activity.

Increase your awareness of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) symptoms when you workout. If you have diabetes and aren’t sure how your blood sugar will behave during exercise, she advises getting a reading before you start and after you finish. A dangerous drop in blood sugar level requires prompt medical attention.

6. Stress Increases Cortisol, Which Affects Insulin Sensitivity

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You’ve had too much on your plate at work, and there’s a crisis in the family, and now your blood sugar is through the roof. What’s that you say? In his opinion, “stress undoubtedly raises blood sugar levels,” Dr. Dodell explains. The hormone cortisol, responsible for our “fight or flight” response, is elevated. If your cortisol levels are high, you may find that your body responds less favorably to its own insulin production or to exogenous insulin injections.

Stress can manifest itself physically, as in the case of an injury, or mentally, as in the case of financial difficulties or marital strife. He warns that even favorable changes to your regular routine, such as a promotion at work or going on vacation, might produce a sudden surge in blood sugar.

Best techniques to relax and restore hormone balance? According to Grieger, “people often turn to food, which doesn’t help.” However, “new stress management skills can be learned.” In the heat of the moment, when work stress has you ready to yank your hair out, you can take some action. She suggests taking a five-minute stroll or counting to ten while breathing deeply to help calm down. And there are regular habits you may form, such as making exercise or meditation part of your daily routine.

7. The Body’s Inflammatory Response to Infection Can Cause Blood Sugar to Rise

You’ve had too much on your plate at work, and there’s a crisis in the family, and now your blood sugar is through the roof. What’s that you say? In his opinion, “stress undoubtedly raises blood sugar levels,” Dr. Dodell explains. The hormone cortisol, responsible for our “fight or flight” response, is elevated. If your cortisol levels are high, you may find that your body responds less favorably to its own insulin production or to exogenous insulin injections.

Stress can manifest itself physically, as in the case of an injury, or mentally, as in the case of financial difficulties or marital strife. He warns that even favorable changes to your regular routine, such as a promotion at work or going on vacation, might produce a sudden surge in blood sugar.

Best techniques to relax and restore hormone balance? According to Grieger, “people often turn to food, which doesn’t help.” However, “new stress management skills can be learned.” In the heat of the moment, when work stress has you ready to yank your hair out, you can take some action. She suggests taking a five-minute stroll or counting to ten while breathing deeply to help calm down. And there are regular habits you may form, such as making exercise or meditation part of your daily routine.

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8. Medication and Supplements May Contribute to Blood Sugar Changes

The disease process itself, as well as the medication used to treat it, can all raise blood sugar levels. Many medicines, both OTC and prescription, as well as various vitamins and supplements, have been shown to increase blood sugar levels. Antidepressants, birth control pills, medications for severe acne, and corticosteroids are just a few examples cited by Dodell. Blood-pressure lowering medication may cause a rise in blood sugar for unknown reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, changes in blood flow and direct effects on insulin release and receptors.

Consequently, he advises disclosing to your primary care physician the use of any and all medications you use, whether over-the-counter or prescribed. They could recommend a prescription that is safer for your blood sugar, or they could help you control your levels regardless of whatever medication you use.

 

9. Lack of Sleep Can Increase Stress and Lower Insulin, Raising Blood Sugar

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The relationship between lack of sleep and many diseases has been the subject of extensive study. The vast majority of diabetes-related studies have reached the same conclusion, claims the National Sleep Foundation (NSF): Not getting enough sleep can cause your blood sugar to increase. The current guidelines for adults with type 2 diabetes and sleep are the same as those for those without diabetes. According to a March 2015 research published in Sleep Health, people need 7–9 hours of sleep every night, whereas seniors need only 7–8 hours.

According to the NSF, the correlation exists because lack of sleep causes a rise in the stress hormone cortisol and a subsequent drop in the amount of insulin released in response to food consumption. Dodell explains that getting a good night’s rest is especially important since it lowers hunger hormones, making it easier to stick to a healthy diet. One revealing study found that when men and women cut their evening sleep time by a third, they consumed 559 more calories the following day.

Dodell suggests keeping a close eye on your blood sugar levels, especially after a sleepless night.

10. Poor Dental Health

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of gum disease. However, the American Dental Association reports that poor gums might raise blood sugar levels in the body. Dodell adds that a rise in blood sugar level is just one of many negative health outcomes associated with gum disease, which can also raise the risk of infection and inflammation throughout the body.

Those with type 2 diabetes should take extra precautions to maintain healthy gums, according to the American Dental Association. Keep your gums healthy by brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental checkups. Diabetes is a serious condition, so it’s important to tell your dentist.

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