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The Rise and Fall of Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, you know the importance of keeping your blood sugar, or glucose, levels in balance. If you have friends or loved ones with diabetes, it's equally important to know how you can help them keep their glucose numbers from going too far up or down.

"You're not doing your friends or loved ones with diabetes a favor if you bring them treats or pressure them to eat," says Rasa Kazlauskaite, MD, an endocrinologist at Rush University Medical Center and acting medical director of the Rush University Prevention Center. "But if you follow their balanced diet along with them, you'll help everyone stay healthier."

Kazlauskaite offers these three recommendations for keeping blood sugar in balance:

1. Stay on schedule. If you tell a person with diabetes dinner is at 6 p.m., make sure you eat at 6 p.m. People with diabetes need to space their meals about four hours apart. Otherwise, blood sugar levels can fall too low. That can lead to shakiness, dizziness, irritability, confusion and increased hunger. And to fend off hunger, people often make bad food choices — which can result in blood sugar levels rising too high.

2. Follow the meal plan — always. People with diabetes need to avoid foods that have too much salt, are high in sugar, or are creamy or fat-filled — these will all drive up blood sugar levels. If you live with someone who has diabetes, help him or her by not keeping these types of foods in the house. Instead, stock up on vegetables, healthy proteins and fiber-filled foods.

3. Bring on the water. If people with diabetes experience blood sugar levels that are consistently too high, their diabetes medication may need to be adjusted by a doctor. While blood sugar remains high and until they can get medical attention, it is important that they drink enough water to quench thirst. This will help remove sugars through the kidneys and bring glucose levels down.

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