The delicacy of the human body is quite a fascinating phenomenon. Our body is constantly working under very tight parameters in order to maintain equilibrium through a network of feedback loops and communication. These mechanisms deal with any abnormality that may disrupt the body’s natural rhythm. For people with diabetes, it is very common to see disruption in these things since the insulin mechanism is either malfunctioning (type 2 diabetes) or not working at all (type 1 diabetes).
This can cause a very disconcerting problem such as high or low blood sugar levels. Even if diet is controlled very well and the proper amount of insulin is given for a particular meal, there can still be other underlying problems which can affect you in the long run. These are called blood sugar spikes. Let’s take a look at what causes these blood sugar spikes, why they cause concern and how to minimize or prevent them from happening to you.
Blood sugar spikes (either high or low) are very dangerous for any person’s health. The consequences of these spikes have shown to increase the development of kidney disease as well as an accelerated progression to eye problems in people with type 1 diabetes. Studies also show that frequent blood sugar spikes in people with type 2 diabetes increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and may even account for slowed mental performance as well as lower attention and energy levels.
So we know the consequences of these sugar spikes, but why are they so prevalent in people with diabetes??? As I mentioned earlier, the body is a very fine tuned machine, so when one mechanism fails the others will fall behind. The greatest cause of blood sugar spikes has to do with the timing of insulin delivery. With type 2 diabetes, insulin sometimes does not make it to the cells in time due to resistance. With type 1 diabetes, it has to do with how the body absorbs insulin and when it is injected. Since it takes around 15 mins for rapid acting to start up, it is usually recommended to take your insulin 15 mins before eating. This does not always solve the problem though.
Even if it takes 15 mins for the rapid insulin to start working, it takes another 60-90 mins for the insulin to peak and then a few hours more to finish working. Another problem that causes rapid spikes in insulin is the lack of amylin being produced during digestion. Since insulin and amylin work together under normal conditions; if there is a malfunction with the insulin pathways then there will be one with amylin as well. The main function of amylin is to help control the rate that glucose appears in the blood after a meal. Since most people with diabetes are either amylin deficient or produce none at all; the rate of blood glucose concentration will increase quicker than it normally would. Because of this, food digests faster than it should leading to nutrient deficiency as well.
These blood glucose spikes are dangerous at both high and low levels. For people with type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemia can occur when too much insulin is injected into the blood stream. A quick drop has shown to have negative effects on the body just like high spikes. The best way to prevent glucose spikes in both type 1 and 2 diabetes is to control the portion of food you ingest and make sure you eat the right kinds of food. Eating small portions will limit how high your sugars will spike, but more importantly, you want to make sure your spikes are as small as possible. try eating foods with a lower glycemic index (such as oatmeal, non-starchy vegetables and carrots, whole grain pasta etc.) these foods are known to take longer to digest which means that your sugar will not spike as fast as with other foods ( high glycemic index).
Everyone is different so make sure that you stay on top of your sugars. It is recommended that your sugars are under 180mg/dL an hour after you eat a meal so try and aim for that range. Eating right and living an active lifestyle can have a number of positive effects for people with diabetes, so keep up with your testing and if you can, try and incorporate foods with low glycemic index into your diet.