If you have diabetes, blood sugar levels are an important part of your everyday life. Normal fasting blood sugar levels range between 60 mg/dL and 90 mg/dL, and anything under 100 is considered normal. Those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, however, have fasting blood sugar levels over 100, and anything over 126 is considered diabetes. Prediabetes is indicated when fasting levels fall between 100 and 126, which means the person is at higher risk (5 to 6 times more likely) of developing diabetes at some point. The good news is those with prediabetes can avoid diabetes by following a proper diet and exercise program.
High blood sugar affects the normal function of the body by decreasing the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin, which causes the body to overcompensate by producing too much insulin, and eventually damaging the pancreas. High blood sugar levels can also damage other areas of the body, such as kidneys, heart, eyes, nerves, and sexual function. High blood sugar over a long period of time can also cause neuropathy and other complications that can be avoided by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
For those who have diabetes, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels involves daily blood sugar level checks to keep track of any fluctuations. Of course, exercise and a proper diet are also very important in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. For diabetics, eating healthy will mean managing carbohydrate intake, since carbohydrates are all converted to sugar (glucose), which will affect blood sugar. Most doctors will recommend that patients start counting carbs each day to help keep blood sugar levels low. The amount of carbs allowed per meal or per day will depend on the person, but most of the daily carb intake should come from fruits, vegetables, and other foods low on the glycemic index (meaning foods that minimally impact blood sugar level).
Some diabetics cannot control blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, however, and will require medication to control their diabetes. Insulin injections or insulin pumps are used when the body no longer produces enough insulin on its own and needs supplemental insulin in order to properly function. There are also medications available (such as Metformin) to decrease the amount of glucose produced by the liver. Combined with insulin, it is possible for diabetics to control blood sugar levels and keep them in a normal range, especially when medication is paired with regular blood sugar checks, a healthy diet, and an exercise program.