Everyone wants normal blood sugar levels. In fact, managing your blood sugar levels (also known as glucose levels) is the core focus of your diabetes self management plan. It doesn’t matter if you are focused on your diet, exercise, insulin or medications, all of these components are geared towards managing your sugar levels.
The tricky part about all of this, is that every person is different. You might need more exercise than me. Alternatively, I might respond to a low carb diet, while you may prefer a vegan diet.
This uniqueness is what keeps healthcare professionals from proclaiming a “one size fits all” treatment approach to diabetes.
But before we get to how to control blood glucose levels, we must determine what exactly are normal blood sugar levels? It’s not as easy as you think. Again, what might be normal for you, may not be right for others. Below, you will find some guidelines concerning what your normal fasting blood glucose level should be.
Initially, you should understand that there are a number of ways to test blood sugar levels. Some tests can be done at home, while others need to be done at your doctor’s office. Depending upon which test you are taking will depend on what a “normal blood sugar level” is.
Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Test: This test is done at your doctor’s office or laboratory and is only accurate if you fast for a pre-set period of time before having your blood drawn.
A normal (non-diabetic) level is between 70 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL. The test is administered in the morning prior to eating, as the test requires a “fast” of at least 8 hours, otherwise the results will be skewed.
A blood glucose level above 126mg/dL is considered a diabetes diagnosis (subject to a confirmatory test).
A level between 101 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL is considered “pre-diabetes”.
If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has established the following blood sugar target levels:
Before Meals (Preprandial) – Between 70 to 130 mg/dL
One – Two hours after the start of a meal (Postprandial) – Below 180 mg/dL
- A1c Testing: This test is also widely utilized. The A1C test is a very accurate indicator of how well you are self managing your diabetes. The test is actually able to measure your glucose levels over a three month period of time. As of 2010, the ADA also began recommending the A1C test as a screening tool for diabetes diagnosis.
At a minimum, the American Diabetes Association recommends that this test is done semi-annually, but it can be done quarterly or even more frequently if warranted. A result that is 6.5% or above is considered a diabetes diagnosis.
- Home Glucose Testing: Good self management requires you to self monitor blood glucose levels daily, often multiple times a day. This is usually done at home with a personal glucose meter. Glucose meters have come a long way in the past several decades, but they are still not as accurate as testing by the doctor.
We have an extensive number of worth checking out. Our reviews page also has links to articles occurring concerning meter accuracy concerns and even a section on how to get a free meter! Check it out for a wealth of information.
Highs, Lows and Complications
- Hyperglycemia: Unfortunately, trying to maintain normal blood sugar levels can result in hitting extremes. Hyperglycemia is when your blood sugar is too high. This means your body is not processing the glucose properly and it is dangerously building up in your system.
Fortunately, there are signs and symptoms that you can recognize when this occurs. But, you must be aware that they are occurring or you can pass out and be faced with a serious medical emergency.
- Hypoglycemia: By comparison, this condition is when your glucose levels get too low. This can be caused by a variety of situations including too much exercise, too much medication, etc. Just like with hyperglycemia, there are a number of symptoms to be aware of to make sure you don’t develop a more serious medical problem.
- Complications: The bottom line is that regardless of which test you use or what precautions you take, the objective is to normalize your blood sugar levels to avoid developing diabetes related complications. If you are curious about what the end game can be with poorly controlled glucose levels, take a look at this section of our site.
Diet and Exercise
- Exercise: There are two cornerstones of controlling your glucose levels. One of them is making sure you get some exercise. Interestingly enough, some exercise are better than others. I take a look at some of the better choices such as yoga, weight lifting and even kettlebell training.
- Diet Advice: Good nutrition is the other cornerstone. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know this. But, the problem with diabetes and choosing the right diet is that there is so may choices it’s hard to figure out what is the best solution. On this page, we take a look at the many different choices including choices offered by the ADA, commercial choices, such as NutriSystem and the South Beach Diet.
- The Blood Sugar Solution: From time to time, I review books by nutritional thought leaders. This is a great book on how what we eat leads to huge health problems, not just diabetes. However, I found its message very informative and the discussion on how to choose the right foods was very helpful.
- Whole Food Plant Based Diet: I wrote this article because I personally believe this is the best diet for people to follow regardless of their physical condition. The resources listed in this article are extensive and thought provoking. Please take a look at this style of eating and discuss with your doctor or nutritionist if you want to learn more.
Insulin and Your Glucose Levels
- What is the Highest Blood Sugar Reading Recorded? Okay, this article is one of the most popular on the site. Would you believe we have well over 100 comments, and rising, regarding what peoples’ highest glucose reading are?
While some of the consequences have been serious, this article will suck you in and won’t let you go until you have read at least a few of the experiences that are detailed here.
- Insulin Guide is the hormone that helps transfer glucose (sugar) from the blood to the cells. When insulin is either not produced or there is a resistance to insulin, then a person’s blood sugar cannot be properly managed.
This guide is your first stop for getting a quick overview of insulin, how it works and how it affects your diabetes health.
- How is Synthetic Insulin Made: If you are under 50, or even 60, you may not be aware that insulin shots used to be made with insulin derived from animals. I wasn’t until the 1970’s when scientists discovered how to make a more stable and effective insulin not derived from animals.
- How to Boost Your Body’s Insulin Production: Before researching this article I didn’t even know this was possible! While some of the tips or methods are somewhat obvious, others aren’t.
- What is the Role of the Liver and Blood Sugar Management?: One of the things about diabetes is that habits that you previously never gave any thought to become more significant. This article looks at how your liver, and what you do to it, play an important part in your overall diabetes health. Absolutely a worthwhile couple of minutes to spend learning how you need to treat your liver better!
- What Is The Treatment For Hyperinsulinism? Most people with diabetes worry about not having enough insulin, but from this article you should also be aware of the opposite situation: Too Much Insulin!
Medications To Help Achieve Normal Blood Sugar Levels
- Type 2 Medications: Ever wonder what all the different diabetes medications are? The chart in this article let’s you know what all of them, are, who makes them, and what the generic equivalent is. I also go into the details of how each category of medication works.
Some of these medications assist with stimulating insulin production, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering glucose output, and assisting with carbohydrate absorption. Wow! Until there is a cure, you are stuck with the medications, so take a look to see what all the choices are.
- Glyset: It’s All About Control: Here is a quick look at one particularly popular diabetes medication. Are you taking it? Should you be? Read the article and discuss with your doctor if you have any questions.
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed May 2013.