Why is it so hard for a diabetic to keep blood sugar levels stable? Why blood sugar levels can go up or down without a change in diet.

Why is it so hard for a diabetic to keep blood sugar levels stable?

Most of you will know how food containing starches or sugars will raise blood sugar levels, and those of us who are dependent on insulin to control blood sugar levels, either because they are born with diabetes (type 1) or develop it later in life (type 2), are keen on keeping their blood sugar levels within a certain range.
This isn't always easy, even when ingesting a precalculated amount of carbohydrates.

There are several reasons why blood sugar levels can fluctuate

Situations when blood sugar can go up

1 Sugary and/or starchy foods or drinks, including 'health' foods such as dried fruits.
2 Caffein: caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee, and energy drinks an cause blood sugar level to go up. Each diabetic reacts differently, so keep track of your own responses. By contrast, coffee has been proven to help healthy people avoid contracting diabetes!
3 Sugar-free foods that contain sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol can still influence blood sugar level
4 Fatty fastfood doesn't just make the blood sugar level go up due to the starch content, but also because the fat can make the blood sugar level stay up for longer
5 A bad cold can raise blood sugar level while the body fights to make you better. Some cold medicine such as decongestants containing pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine also influence blood sugar levels.
6 Stress will elevate cortisol and adrenalin levels, which also cause the blood sugar to go up.
7 Medications that are known to raise blood sugar levels are corticosteroids (prednisone), diuretics and some antidepressants, as well as antibiotics.
8 Birth control pills containing estrogen can also influence blood sugar levels

Situations when blood sugar can go down

1 EXERCISE, which includes mundane household tasks, requires the body to use up glucose, resulting in blood sugar levels going down. A big bonus for those predisposed to diabetes.
2 Probiotic foods such as kefir or yoghurt can lower blood sugar
3 A High-fiber diet will slow down digestion of carbohydrates and hence stabilize blood sugar levels
5 Spicing your (sugar-free) food with cinnamon can help lower blood sugar level

Situations when blood sugar can go both up and down

1 Obviously you can't eat while asleep, which results in a significant drop of blood sugar overnight, sometimes even so much, that the body will auto-correct a too low blood sugar level, by cranking out glucose from the liver, resulting in a too high fasting blood sugar level.
2 Hard exercise can result in blood sugar levels going up as the body releases glucose to meet the demands but if the exercise goes on for a longer period of time, it can result in an undesirable hypoglycemic crash.
3 Alcohol is a food source as well, and especially sweetened alcoholic drinks can make blood sugar levels go up, making it go up at first, but hours later, your blood sugar levels will go down again.
4 Intense heat will thicken the blood, making it harder to keep blood sugar levels stable
5 During a menstruation cycle as well as during menopause hormonal levels will fluctuate, which can cause blood sugar levels to go both up or down.


We can all agree on how a healthy body is a miraculous machine when it comes to keeping blood sugar levels within a strict range . It will be hard to imitate that homeostasis, even when you try hard to keep it stable. I hope this article has helped you understand, why this isn't always possible despite your best efforts.
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