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Blood glucose levels generally go up after eating, depending on the types and amounts of food consumed. It takes time for the pancreas to react and release insulin to use the glucose in the blood. A small rise in levels is normal and considered safe.
With diabetics, normal blood sugar after eating is harder to achieve due to the pancreas not sending out insulin or the body becoming resistant to insulin. In either case, the blood glucose levels rise above the normal range.
Blood sugar tests after eating are usually done with a glucose monitor. Using a small drop of blood, the monitor records what the glucose level is. Tests for post-prandial, or after meals, should be taken two hours after the meal.
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Blood Sugar Levels
A normal range for blood glucose averages between 70 and 125 in most people. At two hours after eating, a blood sugar level of below 140 is considered normal. This range indicates that the body is using and metabolizing glucose properly. If the blood sugar tests in the range of 140 to 199, it can be a sign of pre-diabetes. Results over 200 means the blood sugar is in the diabetic range. Anytime the blood sugar drops below 70, it signals hypoglycemia which can be a dangerous condition.
While these levels are currently the standards in diagnosing diabetes, some physicians and researchers, including Dr. Bernstein author of "The Diabetes Diet", suggest that elevated blood sugar levels should be treated. Elevated blood glucose causes the symptoms common in diabetes, such as neuropathy, and can begin when blood sugar reaches the pre-diabetic range.
A diabetic may have a different acceptable range of blood sugar after a meal, especially when taking medications. Most diabetics should aim for levels below 180 in the 2 to 4 hour range after meals. Diabetics should discuss normal ranges with their health care provider and aim for the levels she advises.
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Maintaining Normal Blood Glucose Levels
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels throughout the day is an important part of diabetes management. Some diabetics may require insulin to help maintain blood sugar.
Keeping a log of foods eaten and testing blood glucose regularly can help a diabetic see which foods cause blood sugar spikes. Reducing simple carbohydrates and sugar intake can reduce blood sugar levels. Eating a diet that includes greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish high in omega-3 and lean meats is recommended by the American Diabetes Association since diabetics are prone to heart disease.
Exercise can help as well, especially muscle building exercises because muscle uses glucose more efficiently that fat.
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The Diabetes Diet; Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.; 2005
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Diagnosis of Diabetes
American Diabetes Association: Blood Glucose Control
Islets of Hope: Normal Blood Glucose