The Skinny on Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreas affecting its ability to produce insulin; this usually happens at a young age.  In this case scenario, insulin has to come into your body from outside a good example of which is an insulin pump.  FYI not all autoimmune disorders happen at a young age.

Type 2 diabetes is a different ball game.  Contrary to the popular belief, increased sugar consumption doesn’t cause type 2 diabetes.

Just because type 2 diabetes is linked to high levels of blood sugar, it may seem logical to assume that eating too much sugar is the cause of diabetes.  However, it’s not that simple.  High-sugar diet can increase the risk of developing diabetes but doesn’t directly cause it.  There is no proven link between the two.   By analogy, driving on the road can increase your risk for an accident but a mere fact of driving doesn’t cause it.

What happens with type 2 is that people develop insulin resistance.  Here’s how it works.  When you consume sugar, it attaches to hemoglobin that delivers it to your body cells to be used for energy.  Think about insulin as a key to open the door (of a cell) to let glucose in.  In case of insulin resistance the door won’t open and glucose can’t get in.  As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by the cells.

It is believed that excess weight and physical inactivity largely contribute to the insulin resistance.  Genetics play a role, as well.

How type 2 diabetes is diagnosed:  A1C test   A1C test kit

A1C is a widely used test to diagnose type 2 diabetes. It is also called HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin test.  Hemoglobin is a substance found in the red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout your body.  When blood sugar level is elevated, sugar combines with hemoglobin making it “glycated” in which case scenario A1C test shows an elevated number.  This test is being used to show how well your diabetes is being controlled.  Since red blood cells live up to 3 months, this test should be at this interval.   This very test was used to diagnose my type 2 diabetes.

For people without diabetes, the normal range for the A1C test is between 4% and 5.6%.  A1C levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes.  The goal for people with diabetes is a A1C level less than 7%.  The higher the A1C number is, the higher the risks of developing diabetes-related complications.



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What goes up, should eventually come down, or what lowers blood sugar

This is a sequel to my earlier post about blood sugar spikes.

After dolng some research, I came up with a few things that can actually lower blood sugar. The first one is my favorite lol.

1. Household Chores.
Believe it or not, cleaning the house or mowing the lawn can have an added bonus for people with diabetes: it lowers blood sugar. Don’t you love getting your closet organized? (it remains on my to-do list of the next projects). This one can lower your blood sugar so you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Many of the chores you do every week count as moderate physical activity, with plenty of health perks. Make a point of walking around the grocery aisles or parking farther from the entrance to the store. (I do this often as I want to back into the parking space which is impossible with the sign right smack in the middle in between the parking spaces). Small amounts of exercise add up.

2. Exercise.
Physical activity is great for anyone but for those of us with diabetes it requires some maintenance. When you work out hard enough to sweat and raise your heartbeat, your blood sugar may spike up, but then it can drop. Intense or endurance-type exercise can make your level drop for at least 24 hours afterward. Eating a snack before you start may help. As well as checking your BG before, during, and after you exercise.

3. Sleep.
It is not uncommon for BG to drop during sleep, especially for those of us who take insulin. (I am not on insulin and haven’t had a low fasting number yet, knock on the wood).  It helps to check your BG at bedtime and again in the morning when you wake up.  If you start having lows, a snack before bedtime may help. I usually have a cup of milk and (approx) 2 squares of graham crackers or any other low-carb cookies I have sitting around. This amounts to about 2 carbs. However some folks experience a rise of BG in the morning, so some sources recommend a continuous BG monitor.

4. Alcohol.
This could have a roller coaster effect as alcoholic drinks have plenty of carbs. At first your BG can rise but can drop for as long as 12 hours after drinking. Having your booze with food might help, and of course checking your BG. The ADA guidelines advise no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. The ADA definition of one drink is 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer or 1.5 oz of liquor like vodka or whiskey.

5. Heat.
Another roller coaster. The problem is, heat makes your BG harder to control. High temperatures can also affect your medications, glucose meter, and test strips so don’t leave them in a hot car. Test your BG often and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can lead to rise in BG and blood sugar becomes more concentrated. Overall, you’d be much safer inside with the AC on when it’s hot outdoors.

6.  Yogurt.
It belongs to the probiotics, the foods that have healthy bacteria. Yogurt can improve digestion as well as help control BG. Plain or light yogurt is your best choice. I usually buy a Greek variety plain, and even then, I take my time to check the carbs content because you never know.

7. Vegan Diet.
The jury is out on this one but some studies suggest that those of us with T2D who switched to a vegan diet – or all vegetable based – had better BG control and needed less insulin. This is possibly due to the fiber content in whole grains and beans that slows down the digestion of carbs. However, more research is needed. I personally don’t know if I ever could switch to the vegan diet permanently. Maybe for a day or two but then I start craving meat which is where my vegan diet ends.

If you think you want to make a permanent switch, talk to your doctor.

8.  Female Hormones.
Another roller coaster. When a woman’s hormones change, her BG follows. Keeping a monthly record of your BG levels might help to get a better idea of how your menstrual cycle affects you. Hormone changes during menopause may make BG even more difficult to control. You may want to discuss a possibility of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor.

9.  Birth Control Pills.
Generally oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes, but the types that contain estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. The ADA suggests a combination pill with synthetic estrogen.

10.  Glycemic Index or GI for short.
This is a rating of how individual foods raise BG levels. Consequently, the lower the better. For example, beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread or regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit, mainly due to the fiber content. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.

I personally never even think about GI as this information isn’t available on the Nutrition Panels, at least not in the U.S.  Can probably find it on the internet but this is a chore considering that I don’t own a smartphone, so can only do the GI research on my laptop when I come home. So I’m only counting carbs and I think it’s enough. Works for me so far.

A word of warning – when comparing Glycemic Index or carbs, keep in mind the serving sizes. Content is based on the Serving Size that varies between the manufacturers.  For example, carbs content per one slice versus two slices can make a dramatic difference.


After all said and done, the question remains – is sugar bad for you?

If you love sweets, don’t despair. You don’t have to give them up forever. While it’s true that sugar will raise your BG levels more quickly than other carbs, diabetes experts now say that it’s the total mount of carbs that is more important. Keeping your serving sizes small and accounting for the total carbs is the most important.

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Blood sugar spikes – why, oh why

I will be talking about type 2 diabetes that I am more familiar with, since I happened to have it.

As a common belief has it, the only reason for the blood sugar spikes is indulging in sweets. However it’s not that simple. A vast number of other factors can cause it. Even something as trivial as a cup of coffee.

1. Artificial sweeteners.
Many folks with diabetes reach for the diet drinks as a substitute for regular soda or juice because they assume that sugar-free beverages won’t raise their blood sugar. But artificial sweeteners may or may not be completely neutral after all, and the jury is out on this one. A few sites such as Healthline report several studies with mixed and inconclusive results.   The problem is, sugar-free foods might contain sugar alcohols that can increase blood sugar level.  They add sweetness with fewer carbs than sugar, but they may still have enough to boost your BG levels.

2.  Chinese food, pizza, bagels
When you dig into a plate of sesame beef or sweet and sour chicken, it isn’t just the white rice that can cause a problem.  High-fat foods can make your blood sugar stay up for longer.  The same is true for pizza, french fries, and other goodies that have a lot of carbs and fat. The dough and the sauce are the culprits as well.  Bagels for once are packed with carbs, and pizza has a high glycemic index. You might want to check your postprandial (after meals) BG level to know how this food affects you.

3.  Coffee
Can coffee raise blood sugar? It depends. Some studies suggest that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing T2D. However if you already have diabetes, drinking coffee can raise both blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. This doesn’t happen with decaf coffee.

4.  Bad cold
Here’s what happens when you have it. Your blood sugar rises as your body works to fight off an illness. Drinking water and other fluids to stay hydrated might help. Beware that some medicines, such as antibiotics and the decongestants that can clear your sinuses, can affect your blood sugar as well.

5. Stress
Overwhelmed or unhappy at work or elsewhere? It takes a toll. When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones that can make your blood sugar rise. This is more common for people with type 2 diabetes. Relaxation techniques can help, such as deep breathing and exercise. Or else, you can always try to change the things that are stressing you out.

6. Meds
Some of them can boost your blood sugar and may even trigger diabetes in some people. Such as corticosteroids commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, asthma and other conditions; diuretics (water pills), some antidepressants, decongestants (cold medicines) and probably more. I believe that my T2D might have been triggered by corticosteroids that I was taking for the Rheumatoid Arthritis back in the day.

7. Alcoholic drinks
Some sources believe that drinking alcohol can spike blood sugar, especially mixed cocktails loaded with sugar, calories and carbs. However, what alcohol does is that it prevents the liver from doing its job which is to store glycogen (stored form of glucose), hence your BG can drop. This can happen within a few minutes of drinking alcohol and up to 12 hours afterward. It’s probably a good idea to wear a diabetes bracelet to alert everyone to the fact that you have diabetes.

8. Hot weather
Remember how hot it can get in summer? You’d know what I’m trying to say if you live in the Midwest USA where we’re right in the middle of a quite cold winter right now and the summer is nowhere in sight.

In the summertime, however, high body temperature can lower blood sugar. On the other hand, folks with diabetes tend to get dehydrated for a number of reasons, and this can raise blood sugar. This can happen if your don’t drinking enough water or when high BG causes polyuria (frequent urination). Dehydration can also lead to heat exhaustion; people with diabetes tend to feel heat more than those who don’t have it.

If you are on insulin, keep in mind that warm skin absorbs it faster, while dehydrated skin, more slowly. It would help to keep your injection site close to the normal temperature and hydration.

Here now, my last fasting number. I don’t check it every morning but when I do, it’s always normal. 91 is super normal for me. As you can see, it was taken at 12:18 pm which is what happens when I am up all night and then sleep til noon. Oh well. Am not complaining about insomnia, though. I am a night owl, feel just fine and full of energy at night. I used to work nights and chances are, my internal clock is still ticking in the same way.

Jan 2 - 91

And that’s all for now. In my next post, will write about what lowers blood sugar.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers!

20 MS Word - for WP

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Guess who’s calling

Guess who’s calling.  My car registration, that’s who.

A bit of history.  Last year I have traded my old car for the snap orange VW Bug.   Now that the Bug plate stickers are up to expire next month, the time has come to renew them.   I first tried OPlates (online renewal),  only to be told that in the last summer a plate transfer was never completed, therefore my Bug was never registered.  Everything was still registered to my old car that is likely pushing daisies by now.   So I went to the local BMV who basically reiterated what I already knew and requested to produce the title so that we can start from square one.  Inasmuch I didn’t have one with me, I went home to retrieve it.

To be honest, I am the kind that tends to lose car titles.  Not anything else but only this.  With that in mind, I turned everything in the file cabinet upside down, had a vague idea where it could be, and bingo, found it!  Of course, it was sitting in the wrong folder.  Am bringing it to the BMV first thing tomorrow morning.

What I think happened was that someone at BMV checked the wrong box last year.  In hindsight, I should have double checked and read the small print.  But who in the world reads the small print on the car registration after you paid your due by a credit card and receive all the paperwork that you blindly trusted the BMV do it right??  But don’t bet on it.  A lesson learned.

And the good part is, I am single aka happily divorced.  I can’t even fathom what would have happened had I still been married to my now ex.  Most likely we would have gotten divorced anyway, right now, oh yeah over the misplaced car title, so the good thing is, it’s already done and over with (back in the 1990s).   Yay.

Glad I didn’t have any traffic tickets in the meantime.  A cop tells you that by the way, there’s something wrong with your plates — imagine that.


So much for the calling that WordPress wants us to write about.

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Post-meal blood sugar spikes

Contrary to the popular belief, a spike in blood sugar after eating also known as postprandial hyperglycemia is not uncommon and typically not dangerous. Unless advised otherwise, most folks with diabetes don’t even have to check their blood sugar after meals. Postprandial numbers are different from the fasting ones. The normal postprandial number is under 180 mg/dL within 1 or 2 hours after eating. And yes, we  can consume carbs. According to my dietitian, the plan is to consume up to 2 carbs per snack and 3-4 carbs per meal. One carb is 15g. Once you start counting carbs, after a while you do this pretty effortlessly.

I almost never check my postprandial BG.  Did check it once when my fasting number was 116, but that must have been due to a bad strip. After having a bowl of oatmeal and checking it again 2 hours later, my number was 101. Otherwise my fasting numbers are normal, around 100 give or take. A few times it was even under 100 which is super normal. I am not on insulin or any diabetes medication, and am hoping this will last forever.

Diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all. Hence some of us will react differently to certain foods. There probably aren’t too many foods that we can never eat again. The keyword is how much. If for example you want some cheesecake, a bite or two would be enough.

Should you want to eat out, keep in mind that the portions nowadays grew up compared to what they used to be some good 20 years ago. This website provides some information about today’s phenomenon of a portion distortion along with a few solutions to such.  For example, a cup of coffee.  Does this look familiar?

Portion Distortion 2


Happy eating!


Source: Everyday Health

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My Morning Fasting Blood Sugar

It was a whopping 116. I couldn’t believe my eyes as this hasn’t happened in a long time. Lately my fasting numbers were fairly close to a 100, sometimes even 99 that was super normal for me. And now this.

I immediately jumped by the computer and went on googling. Guess what, a number of websites state that for those who are blessed with diabetes (type 2), fasting numbers should be under 130 mg/dl, while for those without it, 70-99. So my number was normal after all.  Or maybe it was a bad strip.
11. Nov 8. BG chart

So I went on about my usual morning business, having breakfast and drinking lots of water. 2 hours later my postprandial number is 102. Woo hoo!
102 postprandial

A few words about my breakfast.  I had cream of wheat that I thought was an innocent low carb food.  However, after having taken a close look at the Nutrition Panel, I found out that it in fact, contains 24g of carbs for a serving size of 3 tablespoons.   Here now, see for yourself.
1a cream of wheat

Hmm.  I never count how many spoons I eat, usually pretty much eyeball it.  So I might have overdone a bit with that.  Nevertheless, my postprandial number speaks for itself.  Yay.

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Who Discovered Insulin

It was back in the day in 1921 that Frederick Banting and Charles H Best discovered insulin. Banting and Best injected the hormone into a diabetic dog and found that it effectively lowered high blood glucose levels to normal. So you can say that the dog received insulin by proxy.

I know this sounds like an excuse but I believe it or not, I was really going to write about this and then decided to peek at the Daily Prompts anyway.  Hence this post and the quote below.   Had to post a screenshot of the image as an embedded variation turned out too wide.

Frederick Banting


The Daily Prompt: Proxy

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