Friday, 9 December 2016

Artificial Sweeteners and 5 Other Surprising Causes of High Blood Sugar By Athena Philis-Tsimikas, M.D.

Puzzled by a high blood sugar reading? While most people living with diabetes know that sugar and carbohydrates are two of the most common causes of high blood sugar, several other sources may come as a surprise. The more you know about the many possible reasons for blood glucose readings that are higher than normal, the more control you may have over them. Here’s a look at some of the lesser-known culprits.

1. Artificial Sweeteners

If sugar is a problem, sugar-free should be fine, right? Not necessarily. Artificial sweeteners do contain some carbohydrates that raise blood glucose. Some sweeteners are better than others, so read the nutrition label to find out how many carbs you’re getting. Stevia, a natural plant-based sweetener that adds no calories, may be a better option.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine may help you feel more alert, but it can also boost your blood sugar. If you drink coffee, soda, black or green tea, or any other caffeinated beverages, track how they affect your glucose levels and adjust your intake accordingly. Or switch to caffeine-free options.

3. Dehydration

It’s a good idea for everyone to stay hydrated, but it’s especially important if you have diabetes. When your body is low on fluids, the sugar circulating through your blood becomes more concentrated, leading to higher blood sugar levels. Ward off dehydration by drinking plenty of water or zero-calorie beverages throughout the day, but minimize caffeine. Make plain water tastier by adding fresh lemon, lime, or cucumber, or try herbal iced teas.

4. Stress

Stress can trigger the body to release hormones that cause blood sugar to rise, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. You can’t eliminate all stress from your life, but you can learn healthy ways to respond to it and lessen its effects on your body. Removing yourself from stressful situations, learning stress management techniques, and exercising can all help reduce stress. Even just taking a few deep breaths can interrupt your body’s stress response.

5. Illness

The extra effort your body puts forth to fight an illness or infection can boost blood sugar. Monitor your blood glucose levels frequently when you’re sick, get plenty of rest, and be sure to stay hydrated. Call your doctor if you have two or more blood sugar readings above 250 mg/dl.

6. Medications

A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can tamper with blood sugar. Cold or sinus medications that have decongestants may cause elevated glucose numbers, and some cold remedies contain alcohol or sugar, both of which you want to avoid.

Other medications to be aware of include birth control pills, some antidepressants, and corticosteroids, which are often prescribed for allergies, asthma, and inflammation. Make sure your doctor is aware of all medications you are using, and check with her before you start anything new.

7. Lack of Sleep

Not only can a poor night’s sleep leave you groggy and unfocused, it can also increase your blood sugar and decrease your sensitivity to insulin. A study published in 2010 in Diabetes reported that insulin sensitivity was reduced by 20 percent in study participants whose sleep was restricted to just four hours. Try to get a full night of restful sleep; if you have problems falling or staying asleep, talk to your doctor.

Every individual is unique, and how your body responds to these factors may be different from someone else. Regular testing is the best way to know how your blood sugar levels are being affected and how to manage them most effectively.

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