What is glucose?

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What is glucose?

 

What is insulin?

 

What is a glucose spike?

Glucose is a simple carbohydrate - aka a monosaccharide -, a type of sugar we get from foods we eat, mainly high-carb foods like sweets, grains, bread, potatoes, fruits, etc. 

In other words:

Glucose is our body's primary energy source, and it is essential to keep the mechanism of our body running correctly.

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Sometimes, glucose is also called blood sugar; when we eat, the stomach and the small intestine absorb the glucose and release it into the bloodstream. Then, the glucose can be used immediately as energy or stored for later. 

Even though glucose is fundamental for us, it’s important to keep glucose levels in a healthy range. Otherwise, we can experience both short and long-term effects. That’s why, every time we eat, our body starts immediately to process glucose and tells our pancreas to produce hormones, like insulin, essential to managing blood sugar.

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WHY IS GLUCOSE SO IMPORTANT?

As we saw earlier, glucose is the main energy source for our body -but it's not the only one- so it's crucial for us. But, if glucose levels are out of balance, we get unhealthy effects: our hormones get out of whack, we feel tired, crave sugar, put on weight, our skin breaks out, and our hearts suffer.

All of these can bring us closer to developing type 2 diabetes and lead to various long-term health conditions, like heart diseases, cancer, Alzheimer's, infertility, etc.

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HOW GLUCOSE AFFECTS US

Non-diabetic people can also be affected by high blood sugar levels. This can happen if they consume too much sugar or are under stress. High blood sugar levels can cause symptoms such as tiredness, trouble concentrating, and hungrier. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys, leading to inflammation and more.

NOTE: Preparing an infographic about the effects of glucose

THINGS THAT AFFECT OUR GLUCOSE LEVELS

The primary thing that can affect our glucose levels is what we eat. If we eat a lot of sugar or carbs, our blood sugar levels will go up; especially if we eat them alone. 

 

But there are other things that can affect our glucose levels. 

 

One is stress. 

When we're stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can raise our blood sugar levels. 

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Another trigger that affects our glucose is the lack of sleep. 

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People who don't get enough sleep may unknowingly raise their blood sugar levels. That's because when you don't sleep, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep can also make it difficult to control your blood sugar if you already have diabetes. 

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GLUCOSE VS FRUCTOSE

Glucose and fructose are two different types of sugar. Glucose is a simple sugar that is found in fruits and vegetables. It is also the type of sugar that your body uses for energy. Fructose is a sugar that is found in honey, some fruits, and some vegetables. It is also used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is used in many processed foods.

 

Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits and vegetables. It is also the main ingredient in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is used to sweeten sodas, processed foods, and candy.

 

Fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars. Most of it is converted to fat in the liver, which can lead to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

 

Fructose also interferes with the hormone leptin, which regulates hunger and metabolism. This can lead to overeating and obesity.

 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting fructose intake to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. This includes fructose from all sources, including fruits, vegetables, processed foods, and sugary drinks.

 

Some research suggests that fructose may be more harmful than other types of sugar. Therefore, it is best to limit your intake of fructose-containing foods and beverages.

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Still thinking. 

Here are some foods that are high in fructose, so it's better to limit their intake:

 

1. Honey: Honey is usually labeled as a healthy alternative to sugar. However, it is very high in fructose: a single tablespoon contains about 17 grams.

2. Maple syrup: Like honey, maple syrup too is considered a healthy sweetener despite being so high in fructose; a tablespoon of maple syrup contains about 13 grams of fructose. 

3. Agave nectar: Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is a sweetener often recommended for people with diabetes because t's lower on the glycemic index (GI) but very high in fructose; in fact, agave contains 90% fructose, which is more than high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, and fruit.

4. High-fructose corn syrup: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener in many processed foods and beverages. HFCS is made from corn and contains about 55% fructose.

 

5. Fruit juices: even though they are often categorized as healthy and even recommended for breakfast, fruit juices are a common source of fructose. A cup of apple juice, for example, contains about 30 grams of fructose. 

 

6. Dried fruit: Dried fruit is often used as a healthy snack or added to trail mix. However, dried fruit is very high in fructose. A quarter-cup of raisins, for example, contains about 28 grams of fructose. 

 

7. Processed foods: Processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, cereal, granola bars, and candy, often contain high amounts of fructose.

8. Soda and other sweetened beverages: Soda is the primary source of fructose in the American diet. A can of soda contains about 40 grams of fructose, which is more than the daily limit for men; also, they provide little to no nutritional value.

NOTE: I think we need a graph or infographic here. 

Still thinking. 

HOW DO WE TEST GLUCOSE?

There are different ways to test glucose, but the finger-stick test is the most common. To do it, we need a small drop of blood, typically from the fingertip. The blood is then placed on a test strip and inserted into a glucometer machine. The glucometer will give us a reading of our current blood sugar level.

There are several ways to test glucose levels:
 

1. A finger prick test using a lancet and test strip.

 

2. A fasting blood sugar test is a blood test taken after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours. This test can be done with a kit at a doctor's office or at home with a special kit. 

 

3. An oral glucose tolerance test is a blood test taken 2 hours after drinking a sugary solution. It's usually used to diagnose gestational diabetes.

 

4. A hemoglobin A1c test, which is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months.

 

5. A CGM, a continuous glucose monitor, is a wearable device that tracks your blood sugar levels over time. 

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CONCLUSION

In conclusion: Glucose is an important sugar for our bodies, but it's important to maintain healthy levels. Too much glucose can lead to health problems like type 2 diabetes and various long-term health conditions. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help to keep glucose levels in check.

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What is insulin? 

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