Managing blood sugar (glucose)

What's blood sugar? The job of glucose and insulin1

Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the main source of energy for our cells. It mainly comes from the foods we eat and may go up or down depending on when and how much we eat. Our pancreas helps manage these levels by making insulin, a hormone.2  The job of insulin is to take the glucose from our blood and help it move into our cells, creating energy for our bodies.

What happens if our insulin may be out of control?

With diabetes, the body may either stop making insulin, slow way down or “forget” how to use insulin. When the insulin is either gone or not working properly (also known as “insulin resistance”), the glucose can’t get into the cells where it needs to go. This is what happens with type 2 diabetes.1

With type 1 diabetes, there’s no insulin to let glucose into the cells, so sugar piles up in the bloodstream.3 In response, the kidneys may go into overdrive, trying to get rid of that glucose. This may make a person urinate more often or feel really thirsty, tired or hungry, among other side effects. Many of these side effects may be symptoms of diabetes.4

Frequently asked questions about managing blood sugar

How can I lower my blood sugar or keep it at a normal level?

Checking your blood sugar may help you keep your levels in a normal, healthy range. You may further reduce the chance of complications through:

  • Eating low-carb, high-protein meals.18
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. If you don’t have diabetes but may be borderline, you may benefit from the National Diabetes Prevention Program, designed to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  • Choosing foods that are lower in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt.19
  • Exercising regularly. Regular exercise may help keep blood sugar in a healthy range.20
  • Managing stress21
  • Getting enough rest11
  • Drinking more water to flush glucose from the blood22
  • Seeing your doctor at least twice a year for an A1C test, foot check, weight check, blood pressure check and to talk about your self-care plan. These appointments may help stop potential problems and help make sure that you’re doing what you can to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.