By Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N
Q Please settle this bet. I love to keep my blood sugar level as low as possible. I mean really low, below 60, if possible. I take quite a few shots of insulin to help me do this. My mother says that this is really dangerous. Isn’t lower better? Who is right?
A I have to side with Mom on this issue. The human body isn’t meant to be at an extremely low blood sugar level. It is even designed to release additional glucose into the system if it goes too low. Pushing the body’s sugar level down can lead to brain damage, seizures, and possibly death. Low is defined as 70 or below. Please try to maintain your level above that.
Q I was just tested for diabetes. My first fasting blood sugar level was high, but my 2nd test was normal. What should I do now?
A Unless you have unmistakable high blood sugar symptoms, any diagnostic test should be confirmed with a second test before making the diagnosis of diabetes. Because your second test didn’t detect diabetes, you probably fall into the pre-diabetes range. If you make a few changes in your current health behaviors, you should be able to delay or possibly avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Here are some actions that you can take right now:
- Do some form of physical activity at least 3 days each week, (with no more than two consecutive days without any activity), and try to increase your movement throughout the day. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with a 10 minute session and increase your daily workout by 5 minutes each week, until you reach a 30 minute goal.
- Meet with a dietitian to learn how to make healthier food choices. If you wish, follow the Plate Method, which is very simple to do. It uses your plate as a measuring tool and enables you to continue to eat out. The basic plan is to fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ of your plate with carbohydrate foods, and ¼ of the plate with your protein choice. A serving of fruit and low-fat milk can also be enjoyed.
- Nuts and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.) are healthy, high in calories and shouldn’t raise your BS level. Just sprinkle chopped or ground nuts onto your cereal and yogurt, mix them into burgers and meat loaf, and enjoy them between meals. You can also enjoy diabetes-friendly snack bars and meal replacement drinks as snacks.
*This article originally appeared in 2007
**please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diabetes regimen.