There are two main sources of blood glucose, and both are very important, but we tend to focus way too much on just one of these. Actually we don't focus anywhere near enough on this one come to think of it, but that's another story for another day, but with the other one we tend to ignore it a lot.
So the one we do tend to look at a lot more is glucose from the digestive tract, provided by the food that we eat. Eating and digesting glucose definitely has an impact upon our blood sugar, as anyone who has tested after a meal rich in carbohydrates will tell you.
The other one needs to be looked at a whole lot more, and of the two, well this one is where the actual problems lie where diabetes is concerned.
People tend to think, well diabetics are glucose intolerant, and therefore this is why they have to watch what they eat so closely. It will probably come as a big surprise to you when I tell you that we're not really all that glucose intolerant at all, and in fact it has been shown that at least most of us, the ones that still can secrete a good amount of insulin, can even handle the glucose provided by a standard diet, which as we know is very high in carbs.
So if this is true, why is our blood sugar so high after a high carb meal? Well it's not just the glucose from what we eat that is in our blood. Remember when we looked at the hormone glucagon? Well in diabetics it's too high all of the time and especially when we eat, regardless of how many carbs we eat.
Of course the food does pile on here, but our bodies are already struggling to maintain good blood sugar without this extra glucose eaten, and isn't ready for it at all. It's not just that we don't tend to have a reserve of insulin to deal with meals like non diabetics do, called phase 1 insulin release, it's actually worse than that, as when we eat our livers have turned up things even more and tends to pump even more glucose into our blood to go along with the extra glucose from the meal.
Glucagon doesn't really care how high our blood sugar is really, if you remember, it's one of the things that saves us from low blood sugar, so if it's being secreted it simply doesn't care how high you may be. This is something that not a lot of people get, and most think that extra liver glucose only goes on when your blood sugar is on the lower end of where you usually are, for instance after you go a while without eating, not when you are eating and you are spiking pretty high.
So they measure people's glucagon levels throughout the day and as it turns out this tends to be highest after meals, and with the meal itself typically producing a fair bit of glucose, our blood can easily get overwhelmed.
Glucagon isn't the only hormone that raises blood sugar either, as discussed in the last article, but at the levels typically seen in type 2 diabetics, this by itself can totally mess up our blood sugar, and it clearly does.
There's actually a hormone that is secreted by our intestines when we eat, especially when we eat carbs, which is called GLP-1. Go GLP-1 turns up insulin and turns down glucagon, but guess what, diabetics are low in this. In fact this is available by prescription, although it's not quite the same hormone but is pretty close, and this stuff does reduce blood sugar pretty well.
So this is just an introduction to all this stuff and I'm just looking for you to be thinking about this a little at this point, but now it's time to look at why this stuff all matters as far as how we may choose to treat our diabetes.