A Sweet Little Machine

April 22nd, 2013

If you aren’t feeling so hot on a consistent basis and are postponing that visit to an expensive specialist, one simple question might help in making that decision.

How’s your blood sugar?

It’s surprisingly simple to find out if your diet and eating schedule needs to be altered to counter that sudden drop in energy, improve flagging spirits or understand a sudden and fierce thirst. Blood sugar swings can be responsible for a very wide variety of problems without necessarily meaning you are a diabetic or suffering from chronic ‘hypoglycemia’ (low blood sugar). Both ends of the spectrum can be equally debilitating and many people have been mistakenly diagnosed with depression when this is the author of their problems.

Diabetes is so common these days that nearly every pharmacy sells the meters necessary to test and record blood sugar levels without a prescription. A pharmacist can show you how to use the equipment if following the instructions defeats you when you first open the boxes.

I was traveling in Greece when the need to assess this became urgent. The instructions were in Greek and a few other languages because the product was made by Bayer and not for sale in the USA. Let’s leave that for some other time :-)

I stumbled along in Spanish and managed the trick successfully and most fortuitously. It gave me my warning that my levels were swaying in the wind, from low to high (68 to 134). It wasn’t alarming because in past years, my sugar levels were habitually on the low side. That means you may be at risk in later years for hitting the high C notes above the 110 range. The results will depend upon whether you’ve eaten or not so it is important to recognize fasting blood sugar levels from other points in the day. Whatever your reading, don’t panic! There are different forms of blood sugar problems and not all of them mean you require injections or will even lead a particularly abnormal lifestyle. Here are some sources on that topic:

http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/overview/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diabetes/types.html

http://www.idf.org/types-diabetes

Of greatest import is my realization that chemical exposures alter blood sugar readings. Readers of my blog know I am acutely aware of the role of toxicants in society. From various experiences, I’ve learned that exposure to acetone (the chemical in nail polish remover) raises my sugar levels. An exposure to other items may lead it to plummet. Given these warnings, I’ve learned to alter my schedule of eating and drinking to include a midnight snack if awakened and to increase protein intake. Your particular needs will vary and the guidance of a physician is, of course, optimal. You don’t want to play around with a real case of diabetes and end up being wheeled into an ER as a comatose patient. On the other hand, insulin levels may not need artificial supplementation for everyone who occasionally shows a mildly elevated level. For those needing insulin, be sure to consider your environmental exposures to chemicals if you can’t figure out the right dosage for your needs. Perhaps the situation is more complicated than just your particular physiological status.

Categories: Letters

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