You might not have diabetes now, but do you know the risk factors?
In 2015, 22% of Canadian adults were pre-diabetic and the number of Canadians suffering from diabetes has increased by 44% in the last 10 years. As the leading cause of blindness, kidney problems, and non-trauma amputations, it is important to protect ourselves against diabetes. In 2022, almost 6 million Canadians have pre-diabetes.
But it’s not all bad news, diabetes is often a preventable disease. Knowing whether you have normal blood sugar levels is one of the best indicators of risk. If your blood sugar levels are high, mindful eating and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Read on for all the most useful tips on how to manage your blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.
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What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Level in Canada?
You can measure blood sugar levels with an at-home finger-prick test that gives you an instant reading of the mmol's (millimoles per litre) of sugar per litre of your blood. Generally, depending on the time of day and when you last ate, this can vary between 5.0-10mmol/L.
But what is a normal blood sugar level in Canada? Here is a handy blood sugar level chart based on the guidelines by Diabetes Canada:
Fasted/morning state: 4.0-7.0mmol/L
After eating (1-2 hours): 5.0-10.0mmol/L
Most diabetic adults: 4.0-7.0mmol/L fasted state, 5.0-10mmol/L after eating
Diabetics who are pregnant: <5.3mmol/L fasted state, <6.7mmol/L after eating
Gestational diabetics: <5.3mmol/L fasted state, <6.7mmol/L after eating
Children with diabetes: 4.0-8.0mmol/L fasted state, 5.0-10.0mmol/L after eating
The wide ranges in each group allow for individual differences. For example, we know that sugar regulation deteriorates with age and in pregnancy. So, if you are elderly you may find that you are on the higher end of each range.
However, each person is different and if you think your blood sugar is not in a normal range, it is important to seek medical advice.
What Level of Blood Sugar Is Dangerous?
When your blood sugar levels peak to the danger zone, there are various symptoms that can arise and should be considered serious. Having high blood sugar damages the nerves and blood vessels. They also have the ability to starve your organs of crucial energy. Look out for fluid accumulation in the eyes. As well, the body often times will produce more urine in an attempt to regulate normal levels.
Unfortunately, it is possible to not have any symptoms and still have high blood sugar. A reading of above 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is above normal and can cause these symptoms.
The blood sugar danger zone is considered to be a reading over 300 mg/dL, and it is definitely recommended to inform your doctors if you have shown two or more readings over 300. There are severe cases as well to look out for and those readings will show well above 300 mg/dL. Symptoms of severe cases include dizziness, confusions and nausea. If you display those, proceed to the nearest emergency room.
Controlling Blood Glucose Levels
Uncontrolled blood sugar can result in regular episodes of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst and urination
- Abdominal pain
- Recurrent infections
- Blurred vision
These symptoms are uncomfortable to experience but there are things you can do at home to reduce your blood sugar. In terms of drinks, water is the best as it will help to maintain hydration and dilute excess sugar in the blood. Also, try to add more fiber to your diet to reduce your blood sugar; apples, bananas, oranges, and strawberries are all fibrous fruits.
However, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can also lead to more severe, long term disease. Poorly managed diabetes leads to vision loss, kidney problems, nerve damage, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore, if your blood sugar level reaches 16.7mmol/L, this could be dangerous and you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, but the biggest changes happen around mealtimes. Before eating, a healthy sugar level is between 3.9-5.5mmol/L. Around 1-2 hours after eating, expect blood sugar to rise to 5-10mmol/L.
If your blood sugar doesn't stick within these ranges, the body may have stopped regulating blood sugar effectively which can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.
Adjusting your diet can help to manage your blood sugar. Read more about the Type 2 Diabetes Diet.
Prediabetes - the Warning Signs
Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you to never touch sugar again, sugar is essential for life. We obtain sugar from our diet and the body regulates levels of sugar in our blood; enough to fuel our cells with energy but not so high our blood is overloaded with sugar.
Anyone can develop diabetes but some groups are at higher risk. Anyone with a BMI (body mass index) over 25, over 45 years old, pre-diabetics, and some ethnic minority groups should be screened for diabetes.
Think you might be prediabetic? The symptoms are very much similar to those of high blood sugar (increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.) But also, excessive hunger is a telltale sign of prediabetes. Regularly checking you have normal blood sugar levels is an easy way to monitor how well your body is coping with your lifestyle and dietary choices.
Around a quarter of people with prediabetes will become diabetics within 3-5 years. But luckily, prediabetes can be reversed and go away completely with careful management at home under the supervision of a physician. The best treatment for prediabetes is to eat a healthy diet, avoiding refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, candy, etc.) You should also exercise regularly to keep your BMI within a healthy range.
There are some medications that can help diabetics regulate blood sugar, including Acarbose, Metformin, and Linagliptin. However, in the first instance, lifestyle modification will be recommended to help cure prediabetes.
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The Best Healthcare Options to Prevent Diabetes
Health care is expensive. Canada spent an estimated $253.5 billion in 2018, and as the cost of health care increases, so does the cost to you. In 2021, Canada spent 308 billion on healthcare, so you can see the steep increase for yourself. Pre-existing medical conditions, family history, and BMI are all factors that increase the cost of health care. These factors also increase your risk of diabetes, so you must be covered.
Of course, as a Canadian, you are entitled to some free and subsidized health care, which is great. But many people opt for private healthcare and for diabetes prevention this can be very useful. If you're shopping around for private healthcare, it's important to choose the right package.
Basic health insurance will usually cover health care, medical services, and prescriptions, but they tend to lack customizations. If you opt for a premium/guaranteed health insurance you have the bonus of a custom plan based on your needs; if you are worried about your risk of diabetes this is like gold dust.
Private healthcare plans can cover the cost of many expenses related to diabetes such as blood tests, blood sugar monitors, specialist referrals, hospital stays, and much more! The most important thing to note about private health care is that it covers costs for preventative care, not just treatment for diseases.
There are many different options available, so make sure you search for the best quotes.
Juvenile Diabetes Is on the Rise
Learn about how to prevent it from developing in your child here.View Article
Change Your Life Today and Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
Diabetes can be a massive burden on both your health and your wallet. But, maintaining normal blood sugar levels, managing your weight, and staying physically active are great ways to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
If you are looking to improve your health and monitor your risk factors for disease, getting covered is a great way to relieve the financial pressures of looking after yourself.
Why not contact us today at Insurdinary for a free, personalized, no-obligation quote from some of the best health care providers in Canada!