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Blood sugar spikes are sudden and relatively large increases in an individual's blood sugar levels. People generally experience spikes in their blood sugar after eating, especially if the meal was particularly sweet. Although spikes normally go beyond the usual blood sugar threshold of 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), those that measure 350mg/dL or more are considered to be dangerous. When sudden high blood sugar levels approach 500 to 600mg/dL, the spikes can result in either comas or death.
When an individual eats, the sugars contained in the food are absorbed into the blood in order to fuel the body's metabolic processes. When this occurs, blood sugar levels are naturally high when measured. In response, the body produces insulin to lower the blood sugar back to normal levels. As a result, these spikes typically last around two hours. If blood sugar spikes do not significantly drop after a few hours, it is possible that the pancreas is not functioning properly, or the body's ability to utilize insulin is compromised.
If blood sugar reaches upwards of 350mg/dL, yet the amount of sugar consumed wasn't particularly large, it is likely that the individual has hyperglycemia, or abnormally high blood sugar levels. Spikes that measure this large can pose significant risks to patients, as these individuals often have difficulty in lowering their blood sugar. Such spikes can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and even chest pains. People with hyperglycemia might even lose consciousness after large blood sugar spikes.
There are cases when blood sugar spikes can result in serious neurological damage and prove to be fatal. Individuals who reach these levels are considered to be in the hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state. This state is reached when several large spikes in blood sugar occur in succession without ample recovery time in between. When in this state, individuals can go into shock and even fall into comas. In the most severe cases, the hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state can lead to death.
If the body is unable to efficiently lower blood sugar through insulin production, there are several ways to manage the spikes. Drinking water can help dilute any excess sugar, as well as promote healthy liver and kidney function. Taking 1 or 2 tablespoons (14.78 to 29.57 ml) of vinegar has also been found to lower blood sugar during spikes. In case of an alarmingly large spike, however, patients should seek the advice of a medical professional.
Another option to reduce your blood sugar levels is to simply focus on eating whole foods. Sure, you can look at the glycemic index, but what it will tell you is that most refined foods have a high GI and most whole foods have a low GI.
A whole food, if you're not familiar with the term, is basically what it sounds like. A banana. An egg. Oatmeal.
Of course, meat, whole milk cheese, butter, etc. are also whole foods, so that's not the whole story. I like Michael Pollan's rules: Eat food. Mostly plants. Especially leaves.
The best thing for everyone is to try to keep yourself at a normal blood sugar level all day! Basically, you don't want to eat a lot of white foods - white bread, white potatoes, white sugar, etc. Those will raise your blood sugar and then let it *crash.* That's the sort of monkeying with your metabolism that leads to weight gain and potentially to heart disease and diabetes.
You can look up the glycemic index to get a better idea. Foods with a low GI reduce glucose more slowly after eating, meaning that your blood sugar levels stay more constant. Foods with a high GI will give you a sugar rush and crash.