Every diabetic knows that sugar is the enemy of blood sugar control. A leafy green salad on the other hand, is the diabetic’s nutritional best friend. Or are they?
The reality is, the biology of diabetes creates some results that most diabetics don’t expect. Here are five examples of the “strange biology” of diabetes of which every diabetic should be aware of.
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1. Sugar is not absolutely always bad for diabetics.
There are rare circumstances when diabetics experience predictably low blood sugars. Examples are prolonged aerobic exercise (taking a hike, for example), slow stomach emptying (after a very fatty meal or due to diabetic damage to the nerves controlling the stomach), and over-medication with diabetes drugs. When blood sugars crash, consuming sugar is the best way to get them back to normal. The amount of sugar most diabetics need to correct low blood sugars, however, is the equivalent of about 15 grams of glucose. That’s about the amount of carbohydrate in half a cookie or half a cup of juice… all a diabetic needs to get back to normal.
2. A large bowl of salad can send blood sugars soaring skyward.
That’s because receptors in the lining of your stomach send a message to the pancreas to get ready for a large release of glucose as if your stomach were full of, say, potato chips. The pancreas releases a small amount of insulin to take care of the released sugar combined with a large amount of glucagon, the latter a hormone that stimulates the liver to release stored sugars just in case the meal in the stomach was low-carb.
3. Carbs eaten at breakfast sometimes raise blood sugars more than carbs eaten any other time of day.
This is because of the “dawn phenomenon,” a peculiar characteristic of the liver in some type 2 diabetics… but not all… that causes it to recycle more insulin in the hours just before sunrise than at any other time of day. Even if you have carefully regulated your blood sugars all day long, you can wake up with your levels 20 to 150 mg/dl higher in the morning than when you went to bed.
4. Salt can raise blood sugars as much as sugar. That’s because excessive salt is dehydrating. The kidneys flush salt away to keep bloodstream sodium levels constant. With less fluid however, blood sugar levels soar, that is, until your body is rehydrated. Sometimes just drinking water can significantly lower these levels.
5. Gum infections can change body chemistry so that almost any food becomes dangerous to diabetics. Gum infections raise blood sugars, and high blood sugars feed gum infections. An easy test for gum infections is to swish some ice water in your mouth for 30 seconds. If a tooth hurts, or if you then notice swollen gums or bleeding from your gums, you need to make an appointment with your dentist right away. Regular dental care, surprisingly, helps you control diabetes.
So what is the message of these examples? No food is always safe for diabetics. No food is always dangerous for diabetics. But the best diabetic diet provides all foods in modest portions… so if you happen to be eating something that isn’t good for you, at least you won’t eat too much!
Would you like more information about alternative ways to handle your type 2 diabetes?
To download your free copy of my E-Book, click here now: Answers to Your Questions… its based on questions many diabetics have asked me over recent months.
Beverleigh Piepers is a registered nurse who would like to help you understand how to live easily and happily with your type 2 diabetes. http://drugfreetype2diabetes.com/blog
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