Vitality Checks

ALL ABOUT GLUCOSE

Doctor speaking with nurse

What exactly is glucose?

Glucose is a form of sugar that your body uses as energy to perform its vital processes.

The measurement of glucose in your blood is a measurement of sugar in your blood and is typically performed either by a finger stick or using blood from a vein in your arm. This number tells us how well your body is metabolizing or using food as energy.

Are there different types of glucose tests?

Yes; a glucose test and an A1C test. Glucose testing is performed after eight hours of fasting and measures how much glucose is present in the blood. An A1C test measures how long your blood sugar has been the way it is.

How does an A1C test work?

When there’s excess sugar, or glucose, in the body, it starts to stick to things. One of the things it sticks to is hemoglobin, which is the substance in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen throughout the body. When sugar sticks to it, it circulates through the system for a longer period of time than the glucose you eat does. So if your hemoglobin A1C is high, it means that your blood sugar has been high for quite some time. If it’s normal, it tells us that your blood sugar hasn’t been elevated for long.

If my glucose level is off, what's going on in my body?

In extreme conditions, your body isn’t processing glucose at all, which is typically called diabetes. In other circumstances, your body may not be processing glucose fully or completely, which is called pre-diabetes. Your body’s unwillingness to process sugar appropriately may be the result of a combination of things, including diet, medications or lack of physical activity.

Where can I find more information on glucose?

Diabetes.org, a product of the American Diabetes Association, is an informative website where you can find the latest diabetes news and research, food and fitness tips, community support and more.

Ask Dr. Tom

How can I lower my glucose?

  • Plan ahead. Half the battle to eating right is figuring out how to organize your meals. Before heading to the store, research healthy recipes you’d like to prepare for the week, making a list of ingredients as you go.
  • Discover diabetes-friendly recipes. Even if you aren’t at risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes, limiting sugar intake is a wise decision. Start by visiting MayoClinic.com, where you will find a variety of delicious, low-sugar recipes to choose from.
  • Keep a food/glucose log. It’s easier to tell what foods are negatively affecting your body if you’re writing down what you’re consuming and when you’re consuming it. Find a tracker to help you get started on the Diabetes page on www.heart.org.
  • Manage your weight. Check your BMI frequently to ensure you’re staying in range.
  • Start sweating. While increasing physical activity alone won’t lower your glucose level, adding an exercise regimen along with improving your diet can make a significant impact on blood sugar.
  • Check your medications. If you take medications, talk with your doctor about whether they may be negatively impacting your blood sugar.

Sources
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/PreventionTreatmentofDiabetes/Choose-a-Healthy-Lifestyle_UCM_313880_Article.jsp

Dr. Thomas Van Gilder, MD, JD, MPH, is board-certified in internal medicine and general preventive medicine and public health. He currently serves as Humana’s national medical director for wellness, providing medical direction to HumanaVitality and other Humana wellness initiatives.

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