Understanding Blood Glucose

March 30th, 2024

What is Blood Glucose?

Glucose is the body’s most common source of energy. Specifically, it’s a form of sugar the body can absorb after breaking down the food you eat.

While blood glucose levels vary throughout the day, they’re usually lowest after long periods of fasting or sleeping and highest after eating. The pancreas senses when blood glucose levels rise, and this causes it to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin lowers the levels of glucose in the body and acts like a key to let the glucose into cells.

Blood glucose levels will naturally vary, but there’s a target range, an elevated range and a low range. If you can keep your average levels in the target range, it’s better for your overall health.

Why Pay Attention to It?

Knowing your blood glucose levels over time can help you understand your diabetes risk, of if you already have diabetes, help you manage it. This is important because diabetes is a leading cause of death around the world, and the number of people with the condition has grown steadily.

Elevated sugar levels can damage blood vessels and other parts of the body. This means people with diabetes face a greater risk of serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, vision loss or blindness, and kidney disease or kidney failure. They also deal with weakened immune systems, greater risk of infection, poor circulation in the legs and feet, and nerve damage.

How to Measure Blood Glucose

Finger sticks, blood tests or a continuous glucose monitor are three ways to assess blood glucose. A doctor may recommend measuring your glucose at different times throughout the day to understand how food, exercise and medications influence it.

Doctors typically place people with elevated blood glucose into one of four categories.


Prediabetes means blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they aren’t high enough to be considered diabetes. Without changes to diet and exercise, adults and children with this condition are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

This is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it effectively. While Type 2 diabetes usually develops in people over the age of 45, you can get it at any age. There’s a higher risk of having Type 2 diabetes if you’re older, overweight, have a family history of diabetes or are not physically active. Your risk also increases if you’ve had gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

This form of diabetes accounts for roughly 10% of all cases. It is the most common form of diabetes in children but may occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin. Losing the ability to produce insulin causes persistently elevated glucose levels. Doctors aren’t sure why the body attacks the cells, but genetics or exposure to viruses may play a part.

Gestational Diabetes (Diabetes during pregnancy)

This is a temporary condition that affects some people during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related hormones can change the way the body is able to use insulin, resulting in elevated glucose levels.

How to Manage Blood Glucose Levels

Some people with diabetes will need to take insulin or other medication to regulate their blood glucose levels and will need to do so under the care of a doctor.

Anyone interested in lowering their blood glucose levels could benefit from eating healthy food, getting enough exercise, and avoiding tobacco.

Eating fruit, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding added sugars or sugary drinks, saturated fats and trans fats is a good foundation for a healthy diet. How you prepare your food makes a big difference as well, with frilling or baking being healthier than frying. When and how much you eat can also be as important as what you eat. Your doctor may be able to provide you with an eating pattern that works well for you.

Exercise may also lower blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor to see if you’re healthy enough to exercise, and if so, you goal should be do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensive activity on most days. This could include walking briskly, doing housework, mowing the lawn, or riding a bike.

Written by doctor from WeCare Medical Centre.