What Are the Recommended Blood Glucose Levels for Diabetes?

A person with diabetes checking her blood glucose levels.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2014
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The recommended blood glucose levels for diabetes vary based on the time of day it is and how long it has been since one has eaten. Upon waking, healthy blood sugar ranges between 80 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/l) and 210 mg/dl (11.6 mmol/l), as well as before meals. Within two hours after eating, blood sugar should be at or below 160mg/dl (8.8 mmol/l) and before bed levels should be somewhere between 100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/l) and 140 mg/dl (7.7 mmol/l), although this depends on how long it is has been since one has eaten. A patient’s doctor is the most reliable source for exact blood glucose recommendations, as these are only rough guidelines.

Those who are diabetic have what is known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a substance manufactured by the body in the pancreas that helps it process and break down glucose, or sugar. When too many high sugar or highly refined carbohydrates are consumed, the body makes more and more insulin to help break them down. Eventually the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, so even more is needed, and this cycle continues until glucose is no longer broken down properly. This leads to excessive glucose remaining in the blood at any given time.

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There are various ways to control blood glucose levels for diabetes treatment and prevention. Eating fewer foods containing high amounts of sugar or refined carbohydrates is the first step. Testing one's blood sugar several times daily is another. By keeping track of sugar levels throughout the day, one can see whether diet and exercise are working to keep high blood glucose levels at bay.

Exercise, drinking enough water, and eating plenty of healthy foods are also helpful at lowering blood glucose levels for diabetes treatment. The goal is to not put in more sugar than the body can effectively break down. As less sugar is consumed, less insulin is manufactured, and the body can eventually become less resistant. Some studies have suggested that Type 2 diabetes is reversible if caught early and a proper diet and exercise plan are followed. This is under debate, however, although most experts agree that Type 2 diabetes is totally treatable.

The exact blood glucose levels for diabetes patients may vary based on food consumption and the individual’s makeup. Some may have naturally higher levels, while some may be slightly lower than average. Levels should not range too far from what is considered normal, but a slight deviation can be healthy and normal for some individuals. If blood glucose levels are consistently well above the normal range, though, patients may need to more closely evaluate what they are eating to be sure no hidden sugar is being consumed.

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Pippinwhite
Post 3

There's just no substitute for frequent self-testing. It's the only real way to keep a handle on which foods are more problematic, and whether the diabetic is really controlling the disease. You either control it, or I guarantee it controls you.

I know test strips are expensive, but there are cheaper brands that will at least allow you to get an idea of what your sugar is doing, and I can't recommend getting your own meter enough. I think every newly diagnosed diabetic should test five times per day. If you do, then you know very quickly what's going on with your body, and you can start learning ways to help yourself.

Early control means fewer complications in the long-haul.

Rotergirl
Post 2

My doctor wants my waking levels to be no more than 110, and preferably, under 100. That's mg/dl. Ninety percent of the time, I hit that mark.

I also aim for under 140 two hours after a meal. That's the ideal, and generally, I'm in the target zone. I don't always hit it, but I usually do, and my numbers are usually pretty good. I have bloodwork done every three months, and I'd advise most diabetics to do the same. It keeps you honest. It can also allow your doctor to get an early jump on any problems before they become problems. I'm on oral medication only, so staying in the recommended range is largely up to me, since I'm not taking insulin. However, the longer I keep my levels in the normal range, the less damage I do to my body, and the longer I'm able to stay there, without insulin.

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