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Let’s talk about blood sugar - particularly, what are normal blood sugar levels, how can you maintain them, and why is it important to do so?
Let’s dive in.
In this article: -
- What are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
- Most People Have High Blood Sugar
- The Solution to High Blood Glucose Levels
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
Typically, a normal range of blood sugar levels is between 80 and 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If you’re completely giving up sugar in your diet, your blood glucose levels may go even lower than that and still be considered completely normal.
Now, what exactly does that number mean? Basically, it’s the ratio of how much sugar you have in your blood. The average person - who weighs, let’s say, 165 pounds - has 1 ⅓ gallon of blood in their body. If that person were to have normal blood sugar - around 90 mg/dl - that would be slightly more than a teaspoon of blood sugar in the 1 ⅓ gallon of blood.
And, believe me, it’s not hard to get this amount of blood sugar. You can actually convert protein - and even fat - into sugar, so you don’t even need carbs to get this normal ratio.
Why is it important to maintain normal blood sugar levels?
Well, maintaining a normal blood sugar range is important for avoiding long-term health issues, managing your weight, and just feeling good overall.
That said, blood sugar frequently goes out of whack and gets either too low or too high. Here's how:
How Do You Get Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar - or hypoglycemia - still happens. Causes include:
- Medication, particularly quinine, which is used to treat malaria. Also, if the kidneys and liver do not work correctly, breaking down and excreting medication from the body becomes harder.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Critical illnesses, including hepatitis and kidney disorders
- Insulin overproduction. Excessive insulin production or supplementation can lead to hypoglycemia. Some tumors can cause low blood sugar, as they produce chemicals similar to insulin. A tumor may also consume so much glucose that it does not leave enough for the rest of the body.
- Hormone deficiencies
- Surgery. People who undergo gastric bypass surgery might also experience hypoglycemia, as they will be able to take in less food than they were able to before surgery.
- Nesidioblastosis, a rare condition involving the enlargement of beta cells, often results in an overproduction of insulin. Beta cells produce insulin in the pancreas.
If you have hypoglycemia, symptoms can include:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Pale skin
- Visual disturbances
- Loss of consciousness
Most People Have High Blood Sugar
That said, most people have high blood sugar levels, not low blood sugar. Why? The average American consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar every single day. That translates to 130-145 pounds of sugar a year. In an average lifetime, that’s a dumpster full of sugar.
You can also get high blood glucose for a variety of other reasons. This can happen if you:
- Skip or forget your insulin or oral glucose-lowering medicine
- Eat too many grams of carbohydrates for the amount of insulin you took, or eat too many carbs in general
- Have an infection
- Are ill
- Are under stress
- Become inactive or exercise less than usual
- Take part in strenuous physical activity, especially when your blood sugar levels are high and insulin levels are low
Symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Increased thirst
- Trouble concentrating
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar more than 180 mg/dL
Ongoing high blood sugar may cause:
- Vaginal and skin infections
- Slow-healing cuts and sores
- Worse vision
- Nerve damage causing painful cold or insensitive feet, loss of hair on the lower extremities, or erectile dysfunction• Stomach and intestinal problems such as chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach and intestinal problems such as chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Damage to your eyes, blood vessels, or kidneys
Additionally, ongoing high blood sugar can cause type 2 diabetes.
The Biggest Concern: Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Most drastically, this excess of blood sugar is why a huge portion of the population has pre-diabetes or diabetes. What’s worse - they don’t know that they’re diabetic or prediabetic because it’s doesn’t show up in their blood tests. Instead, these conditions start out small and gradually get worse until suddenly you find yourself with the full-blown disease. Some of the symptoms of prediabetes include:
- Getting tired after you eat
- Craving sweets
- Being unsatisfied after meals
- Inability to go many hours without eating
- When you eat, you feel better
If you develop full-blown type 2 diabetes (which, according to the American Diabetes Association, is most common) you can develop lots of diabetes-related health complications, including problems with your:
- Heart and blood vessels: With type 2 diabetes, you’re up to five times more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. You’re also at high risk of blocked blood vessels (atherosclerosis) and chest pain (angina).
- Kidneys: If your kidneys are damaged or you have kidney failure, you could need dialysis or a kidney replacement.
- Eyes: High blood sugar from type 2 diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the backs of your eyes (retinopathy). If this isn’t treated, it can cause blindness
- Nerves: Type 2 diabetes can lead to trouble with digestion, the feeling in your feet, and your sexual response.
- Skin: Your blood doesn’t circulate as well, so wounds heal slower and can become infected.
- Pregnancy: Women with diabetes are more likely to have a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a baby with a birth defect.
- Sleep: You might develop sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing stops and starts while you sleep.
- Hearing: You’re more likely to have hearing problems, but it’s not clear why.
- Brain: High blood sugar can damage your brain and might put you at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Solution to High Blood Glucose Levels: Cut Out Dietary Sugar
There are many possible solutions that doctors recommend to decrease high blood glucose. Specifically, the American Diabetes Association recommends things like:
- Drinking more water: Water helps remove excess sugar from your blood through urine, and it helps you avoid dehydration.
- Increasing exercise: In some instances, working out can help lower your blood sugar.
- Changing eating habits: You may need to meet with a dietitian to discuss specific changes to the amounts and types of foods you eat.
- Switching medication: Your doctor may change the amount, timing, or type of diabetes medications you take to control blood glucose.
That said, the single best way to decrease blood glucose levels is to cut out your dietary sugar completely.
You don’t need a lot of sugar in your diet to have normal blood sugar levels. In fact, if you get zero sugar from your diet, you will clear up many health problems along with achieving normal blood glucose levels. Specifically, cutting out sugar from your diet can reduce your risk of life-threatening conditions like:
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Chronic inflammation
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Dental plaque and cavities
Consider the Keto Diet to Normalize Blood Sugar Levels
So what do you replace the sugar with for healthy blood glucose? Fat.
See, fat is the only macronutrient that doesn’t cause blood sugar levels and insulin to spike in the body - both protein and carbohydrates do cause some sort of spike.
That’s why I recommend the keto diet with intermittent fasting. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet - you can find exactly how to start here. Now, there are a few reasons that keto is a good idea (besides the fact that it can help with blood sugar):
- We have a lot more fat than stored sugar in our body, so it’s more regularly available for fuel. In fact, an average thin person has about 77,000 calories of stored fat! That’s a huge number, and it only gets higher for other members of the population.
- Fat and ketones provide a better quality of fuel. With better fuel, you're much more likely to achieve your health goals.
- High blood sugar levels in the body, as we've mentioned, can lead to lots of serious health issues, including insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Ketosis - the state of burning fat for fuel - can improve mitochondrial function.
- Many people experience increased energy and less brain fog on ketosis (check out our full video on the benefits of ketosis.)
And why intermittent fasting? If you’re just doing keto and you’re consuming multiple meals, you’re going to spike insulin every time you eat. That means it’s going to take longer to get your body settled burning fat and ketones (instead of relying on sugar). It's also going to be harder to achieve any kind of significant weight loss.
With keto + intermittent fasting, you solve both of these problems. See, fat is the only food group that doesn’t really spike insulin, so if you’re not eating as frequently and you’re consuming more fat at the same time, then you’re going to drop insulin and solve your sugar problems much faster.
The main point I want to make? You don’t need sugar: Your brain doesn’t need sugar - it can run on fat and other fuels. And your body will be healthier for it.
Up Next: -
- Blood Sugar Basics
- Emotional Testimonial With Blood Sugars
- How to Prevent Afternoon Blood Sugar Crash
Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.