Have you found yourself having blood sugar spikes seemingly for no reason at all? We all know that sugar and carbohydrates cause spikes, but there might be a hidden culprit in your daily life that is causing those unexplained rises. We’ve got a list of 9 everyday things that may be spiking your blood sugar and how to avoid or correct them!
Many people turn to artificial sweeteners when they are trying to cut down on their sugar intake. However, there have been some studies that suggest these artificial sweeteners can cause sugar cravings and potentially lead to glucose intolerance and increased blood sugar levels. There have not been enough studies to confirm these findings, but the ADA’s recommendation is to proceed with caution until further research on artificial sweeteners can be conducted.
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can lead to all-day spikes in blood sugar levels. It is possible that this comes from the pancreas (which produces insulin) being negatively affected by the skip in meals. It is also possible that these spikes result from the correlation between a person being overly hungry having skipped the first meal after fasting all night and tending to select quick and high carb (or generally more processed and unhealthy) snacks and foods later on in the day. No matter the cause, avoid these blood sugar issues by having a healthful breakfast full of good nutrients such as eggs with veggies.
When your body is under stress (either physical in the case of injury or mental stress) the stress hormone cortisol is produced, causing the fight or flight response. Higher levels of cortisol can make the body less sensitive to its own naturally produced insulin as well as insulin injections. A great way to reduce stress is to go for a short walk or practice meditation and slow breathing.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Gum disease is a well-known complication of diabetes, and it can in turn lead to spikes in blood sugar. Infected gums can release germs into the blood stream, causing the body to release molecules to fight off the germs which can also lead to blood sugar spikes. People with diabetes are highly encouraged to maintain proper oral hygiene on a daily basis as well as get regular dental checkups to avoid this complication.
Packaged “Health” Foods
Many foods often marketed as ‘healthy’ have hidden sugars and generally very high carb counts. For instance, fresh fruit juice contains all the natural sugars from the fruit but loses the fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial for the body. Dried fruit is similar in the sense that all the natural sugar remains, but without the water content the sugar is concentrated into a much smaller package leaving people more likely to consume higher portions. It’s not just fruit related items here either, yogurt and Raisin Bran cereal both contain high levels of added sugars. It is important to always read the nutrition facts and ingredients lists on foods in order to know what levels of carbs are contained and what a proper serving size should be. Always read up on the nutrition before being sucked into “healthy” marketing.
Many common types of alcohol such as beer, cider and mixed drinks contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugars. The best thing to do to avoid blood sugar spikes when drinking is to have a balanced meal or snack prior to drinking and to limit the intake of alcohol in a night.
Exercise is a key component of proper diabetes management. Physical activity helps to maintain healthy weight, increases your body’s insulin sensitivity and helps your body burn off excess glucose for energy. In turn, physical inactivity can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Of course there are circumstances that require inactivity such as recovering from an injury or surgery, in which case a person with diabetes should keep an extra eye on their blood sugar levels.
In hot weather people often forget to drink additional water to stay hydrated, and people with diabetes may not sweat as effectively also leading to dehydration. Dehydration raises blood sugar levels, so always be sure to have water on hand and stay hydrated in the heat.
Similar to stress, caffeine intake can increase cortisol levels and lower sensitivity to insulin, causing spikes in blood sugar. In addition to the caffeine, coffee is often made with cream (containing lactose) and sweeteners and flavors that contain high sugar levels causing spikes. If you notice regular spikes in blood sugar after drinking coffee, try to reduce your caffeine consumption or use low-sugar flavors and additives in your mix.