By Karen Best Wright
Published in Albemarle Tradewinds
What causes high blood sugar levels, and why is it harmful? The body needs and uses the nutrients in foods to nourish body organs. Without proper nutrients, body cells die. The pancreas releases the hormone insulin that allows the glucose from digested food to enter and nourish the body cells. When large amounts of sugar or simple carbohydrates inundate the body, the pancreas pumps out increased insulin. Eventually, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, or the body becomes resistant to the insulin. When insulin is ineffective, too much sugar remains in the blood and does not nourish the cells. When the blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes, it is prediabetes.
Approximately 96 million American adults (one in three adults) have prediabetes, and most don't even know it. Without intervention, they are at increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A simple blood test by your healthcare provider will diagnose prediabetes. Reducing blood sugar levels back to normal is possible and much preferred than the alternative.
STEP 1: Know your blood sugar levels
A glucometer is a simple blood glucose monitor. Purchase a glucometer at a pharmacy or online. It is easy to use and is necessary when tracking one's blood sugar levels. When fasting for at least eight hours or more, a healthy blood sugar level would be less than 100. Two hours after eating, a healthy range would be less than 140. Tracking one's blood sugar level is only the first step in lowering it.
STEP 2: Foods to eat and not eat
Learning what foods to eat and not eat is the next step. Read labels on all foods that have them. When "sugar" is listed, or one of its many names (such as corn syrup), it might be one to put back on the shelf. Learn the glycemic index (GI) of different foods. The higher the glycemic index, the faster it will raise your blood sugar level. The American Diabetes Association rates the glycemic index scores as "low" for 55 or below, "moderate" for 56 to 69, and "high" for 70 and higher. A simple internet search for the glycemic index of white bread is 71, while the glycemic index of 100% whole grain bread is 51. Become familiar with the GI of various foods. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugary desserts, soft drinks, and processed foods will spike blood sugar levels faster than high fiber complex carbohydrates.
STEP 3: Herbal Remedies
Along with monitoring one's blood sugar levels and eating the proper types and amounts of food, many people have found numerous herbal and natural remedies helpful. This is not a complete list, but a few include cinnamon, fenugreek tea and seeds, marshmallow root tea, aloe vera, ginseng, prickly pear cactus, ginkgo, and garlic.
For those already taking diabetes medication or pregnant or nursing women, consult your healthcare provider before adding herbal remedies.