By: Cat Ebeling
Co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen, The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix
Diabetes is called a ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a silent insidious disease that can gradually creep up on you so subtly that you may not notice it is happening. With the increasing proliferation of sugar and sweeteners added to foods, it’s especially hard to avoid added sugars. Many foods that you would never consider as ‘sweet’ have a surprising amount of sugar added. Even something as seemingly minor as ingesting just one soda or fruit juice a day can increase the odds of developing diabetes up to 80%.
Damage from diabetes can start at ‘pre-diabetes’ blood sugar levels, so even if you have not been diagnosed for diabetes, you may still be at high risk for diabetes complications such as heart disease, kidney or nerve disease or eye disease.
Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight—even just 5-10 pounds overweight
- Eating a high carbohydrate diet—even if you think you are avoiding added sugars
- Ingesting sweet drinks, energy drinks or other so-called ‘health’ foods with added sugars
- Being over the age of 45
- Having a relative with diabetes
- Ethnic backgrounds of African, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
- Gestational diabetes if you have ever been pregnant
- High blood pressure (140/90) or even borderline high blood pressure
- LDL Cholesterol over 150, HDL under 35, and high triglycerides of 250+
Often diabetes can have no noticeable symptoms, or symptoms that you would never link to high blood sugar. Since symptoms can vary from person to person, and vary in their severity, there can be a wide range of unusual health symptoms that are unique and individual.
One of the primary things to understand about diabetes and high blood sugar is that there is no line drawn in the sand in which you cross over and you suddenly have health issues.
Think of diabetes and high blood sugar as a spectrum, where optimal blood sugar levels are consistently in the 70’s and 80’s, with HbA1C levels below 5%.
Once these levels begin to rise beyond that, you’ve entered the diabetes risk spectrum and you’ve opened the door to the damage that high blood sugar can cause.
“Borderline” Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes are VERY serious…
Borderline high blood sugar and Pre-diabetes are not benign conditions. Once you are in the ‘pre-diabetic’ range, damage is already occurring to your heart, blood vessels and organs. In fact, research shows that roughly two-thirds of patients admitted to the ER for heart attacks already had ‘pre- diabetes’. Risk of a heart attack increases with any rise in blood sugar beyond optimal levels.
The fact is pre-diabetes can kill you from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer—before you ever get diagnosed as diabetic.
So if you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, don’t think there isn’t anything to worry about until you get to the point of an actual diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes has plenty of early signs, but they are often so subtle you may not notice.
Blood sugar levels can begin to creep up gradually and the actual symptoms may be silent or be so subtle and gradual, you never really notice. But it doesn’t just happen over night. “…most people are unaware that they have diabetes in its early or even middle phases,” says Aaron Cypess, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and staff physician at Joslin Diabetes Center. However, if you pay attention to the signals your body is sending, you may be able to catch rising levels of blood sugar and still have time to possibly reverse the damage.
These are some of the common (but often overlooked) high blood sugar symptoms to watch for:
Urinating frequently along with increased thirst
While thirst and urination may be attributed too many things—environment, exercise, dehydradation, diet, medication, etc., if it is happening on a regular basis, it may be time to pay attention.
When the body cannot lower blood sugar effectively anymore, higher levels than normal of glucose circulate in the system and your body helps to get rid of it by flushing it out through urine.
Frequent urination of course, leads to increases in thirst. But don’t reach for that sugary drink or fruit juice—you are just exacerbating the situation!
Hungry and ‘hangry’
When the body is not able to effectively regulate blood sugar, its levels tend to go up and down. A spike in blood sugar levels tends to be followed by a crash, causing shakiness, hunger and irritability. This causes cravings for more carbs or sugary foods and many people think this is the best way to relieve their blood sugar crash—by eating more carbs/sugary foods.
This creates a vicious cycle that can raise blood sugar levels over time.
Actually, the best way to stabilize blood sugar is to eat low carbohydrate foods and higher protein/healthy fats. This gets rid of the ‘hangries’ and helps to avoid future glucose ups and downs.
Lack of energy
Blood sugar ups and downs can create a serious lack of energy. Sugary and starchy foods may offer a temporary lift, but the resulting dip in blood sugar can make it feel like you are slugging your way through quicksand every day. Over time, this can also contribute to the body’s inability to process energy from foods you are eating.
A dip in energy can also decrease the desire and ability to get out and exercise, possibly causing weight gain—another risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Irritable or depressed mood
Blood sugar ups and downs can make you feel not only unwell, but can actually contribute to depression, anxiety and irritability.
Too much sugar and starch can throw off the sensitive microbiome in your gut, which contributes a large portion of serotonin, a brain chemical that makes you feel happy and calm. And generally when your body is unwell, your brain actually senses this, and you feel ‘bad’.
So pay attention to any depression, anxiety or irritability—your body may be trying to tell you something important.
Again, this is one of those things that can develop slowly, so it may be so gradual, you just don’t notice. Slow healing and a tendency to develop inflammation or infections is a big indicator that you may have high blood sugar.
What is considered slow healing? Most cuts and scrapes, if relatively minor, will heal within a week to ten days. If it takes 2-3 weeks or more and stays red, swollen and possibly infected, it may be worth checking blood sugar levels, as well as getting your wounds treated.
Yeast infections and urinary tract infections
Higher than normal levels of sugar in the body can also feed yeast infections like Candida, along with certain pathogenic bacteria. Candida organisms feed off glucose, so what you eat and drink may be actually be encouraging a Candida infection. Candida live in a person’s digestive tracts, and the vagina, but are normally kept in balance.
Out of control candida is usually an indicator that your body’s immune system, and possibly blood sugar are out of whack. Glucose in the urine also feeds bacteria and yeast that normally do not survive. Recurrent urinary tract infections, along with frequent or ongoing yeast infections are a good reason to get checked out by a medical professional.
Way before blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the eye causing diabetic retinopathy, vision can become blurry.
In the early stages of diabetes or pre-diabetes, higher than normal levels of glucose can cause blood to thicken, and can actually build up in the eye, temporarily changing its shape, and making it harder to focus. While this can be a chronic, ongoing issue, it can also only happen after eating a high-carb meal or a sugary drink or dessert.
The blurriness can be resolved once blood sugar is under control and stabilized, but it can take 3 to 6 months.
Tingling in hands or feet
Elevated sugar levels can cause complications well before you realize you have diabetes. One of these is mild nerve damage, which can cause numbness in your feet or hands. Because elevated glucose damages small peripheral capillaries in the hands and feet, nerve damage results from the lack of blood flow and oxygen.
A frequent feeling of ‘pins and needles’ in hands and feet can signal damage of the nerves way before you realize your blood sugar is out of control. Nerve damage is extremely serious and very important to manage, before there is a loss of sensation. Loss of sensation can lead to increased injuries, slow healing times, and infection—all of which can lead to amputations.
If you find you are brushing your teeth like normal, but spitting out blood, you may have some issues with blood sugar. Higher than normal blood sugar levels can also encourage bacteria to live in the mouth and gums, causing tender, swollen inflamed areas that will bleed when you brush or floss.
All of the above symptoms can be attributed to other things as well, and you shouldn’t panic if you feel extra tired, irritable or thirsty for a few days. Same goes for the any of other symptoms.
But if they become a constant, and are accompanied by other possible symptoms of diabetes, it’s time to get checked out by a doctor.
Medical professionals usually do a blood test to check A1C levels (blood sugar stability over about three months’ time), and may do a fasting glucose test. You should request a test for insulin levels as well, as insulin starts to rise and stays higher than normal long before blood sugar levels go up.
Diet and lifestyle changes are key and can reverse or prevent blood sugar issues. A diet high in anti-oxidants, organic vegetables, fruits, naturally raised meats/poultry/fish and certain natural supplements can go a long way to stop diabetes, pre-diabetes and the damage it can do to your body.
If you are struggling with Type-2 Diabetes or have been labeled as “pre-diabetic”, then you definitely need to check out the article below…
This simple technique helps to REVERSE Type-2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes, naturally (while also getting rid of stubborn belly fat)
Thank you for your articles. I appreciate the info I receive from them:)
Missing is the effect of glyphosate on type 2 diabetes. Because glyphosate locks up chromium, insulin does not work as well. Therefore more sugar in the blood. Glyphosate in combination with fluorosilicic acid can put holes in the gut which can lead to candida in the blood. Candida loves sugar. It will find a nice place to grow and graduate to a fungus that consumes a lot of glucose, and release enzymes to decompose human tissue to provide the minerals it needs to grow. These enzymes will cause human tissue to change from an aerobic to anaerobic state and grow rapidly to try and surround, and kill the candida. However, if certain essential nutrients are missing because of glyphosate, this defense will not work and the growing mass of candida fungus and anaerobic cells will eventual destroy you and is call cancer. The object is to kill the fungus. Then their is no more toxic enzymes and the anaerobic cells will return to normal aerobic cells, except for the cells dead from the enzymes. Note that this does not apply to mutant cells caused by high level radiation, either UVC, X-Ray or Gamma. Things that can kill Candida include extended high fever, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and other fungicides.
I appreciate your comment…..quite informative. Thank you for taking the time and caring enough to write it.
Whole minimally processed plant foods are packed with carbohydrates PLUS fiber and phytonutrients that have been proven to prevent and even reverse chronic disease. Throwing all ‘carb’s into one unhealthy sounding pot is wrong.
But thank you for the article which contains a lot of great info.
What happens if you eat very healthy (i’m on the autoimmune paleo diet), and are still gaining belly weight and have most of the above symptoms (i’m 125lbs – up 10 from last year with out eating more). i test my blood sugar before meals and it’s often hypoglycemic range. but i am getting bruises on my fingers from just that. went to an endo – the most uselss profession out there to help with hormonal issues that are not the obvioius overweight, big mac eating couch potato.
because no ketones in urine or other signs, i’ve been dismissed and can’t even book an appt with her or anyone again due to the referral programs.
What kind of things can i check on my own? check BS after eating? what else can i do? i’m doing everything right – am in menopause hell too. another story with receptor shut down and can’t do BHRT anymore.
the medical system is such a sham.
If you are eating healthy and still gaining weight, I would go to a clinic that will do a complete test of your hormones. I have been trying to resolve my issues for 2 years. I kept saying I am tired all the time, I am gaining weight. My mother had thyroid issues so I have asked for 2 years and oh yes we have tested your thyroid. Yes they test it but only the t1, t3 levels. You must have a COMPLETE test. I just had all mine tested and the one and only test the seem to do for thyroid still showed my levels within normal range. When the did the additional test FINALLY – it showed I have hypothroidism. (sluggish – not working properly0 and will contribute to weight gain. It took going to a different clinic that specializes in female hormones. Well worth every moment and every penny to know I am not crazy and something beyond my control was contributing to my weight gain!!
the only change i’ve had in diet is the addition of xylitol gum and mints due to dry mouth (and eyes) i’ve developed and therefore tooth decay. i’ve tested for sjorgen’s and it’s negative. i’m in hell and all specialists are clueless. GPs are abusive if you don’t present with something they can help with (not much). and the addition of an apple after dinner. i eat organic etc.
Susan, I would cut out ingesting xylitol gum and anything with xylitol in it. I’ve read in the past that if one brushes their teeth with xylitol, that it’s supposed to prevent or erase tarter over time, but ingesting any thing with artificial sweetners is damgerous. Look up sweet poison.
Have you ever seen YouTube videos by Dr. Eric Berg… He uploads constantly and you may be able to search your symptoms and find a wealth of information there… Hope that helps and you find resolutions soon…. Take care….
All these are important things we should all remember to have early treatment for high blood sugar!
I know I’m prediabetic. I tick every box. Even though they tell me I’m not. I’m hypothyroidism, they never retest or keep eye on it for last thirty years, high blood pressure , high triglycerides, high cholesterol, sjogrens wias told me but now
They renege on ever telling me that. Say I have connective tissue disorder, rheumatoid arthritis- they took that back, for two years they said I have sarcoidosis because of X-ray that came back- saw a diagnostician and he said how many years did it
Take them to tell you, twenty, futures he said, said mybadrenals are fried, ant out me on prednisone, after being on major dose took over a year to gradually come off, then placed on Plaquinil- almost lost my eyesight, saw Opthalmologist every four months, said every thing ok but I have blurred vision, and I saw drastic deterioration and made the call to discontinue Plaquinil, it really helped being on prednisone and because I missed an appt with rheumatologist and wouldn’t let me come back. There was an eighteen month period between appts and my short term and long term memory is very diminished and who cares? Lyrica really helped and on low dose opioids kept me still debilitating pain but with major bed rest and heat and ice packs I’m pretty well do not a quality of life. All of London Ontario doctors have directives to not give any narcotics and dumped us to only people who will help us. Cannabis. Can’t tolerate THC and CBD does nothing. Like an aspirin. But I will try for a month cause I’m desperate. I should be alcoholic or drug user but I’m not. Have special needs daughter that
Gets bare bones of care which she deserves more! I’m only able to be up for ten minutes major back pain at lower back kidney lobes. I’m falling all the time and everything is a trying time. Major chronic fatigue. I’m exhausted just writing this!
What a news’s., on BP pills, statins, Coverysl, Rosuvastatin, Bisopropolol, synthroid, Lyrica , CBD, imovane I read everything voraciously and I have an holistic doctor who’s trying to save her Govt money, doesn’t order tests, I need two knees replacements, but have no help for special mental help needs child, plus only living on $12;000 per year. Everything hurts to do so I’m very selective on what gets done.. no family that’s the problem. Thanks for your kindness and bending ear. Self isolating vpbeen in since xmas anyway Take darev
Have you looked into MCAS – Mast Cell Activation Syndrome? When some people have lots of different health problems, it could be this.
As a diabetes 2 parient, i am quite surprised by the frightful description you offered. One thing for sure, diabetes is no joking matter. Having high glucose blood circulating in your body, visiting every organ, can lead to failure of your kidneys, plaque in your arteries, fatty liver, neuropathies which could lead to amputations and more. So, you have to take care your diabeties.
All that said, in my 16 years with the illness, sometimes not well controlled, i never had any symptoms of diabetes except the high blood
sugar. During this long period i qas never told to keep my vasal sugar
On or about 70. That would put me to close to a hypoglycemic state, and that is one of the dangers of being diabetic. More often than not doctora ask that I keep away from below 100-110 and even prefer I keep close to 130. Mind you, my current Board certified endocrinologist is considered
one of the best in South Florida. I perceive that your, and doctors believe is best to scare you about the effect of diabetes ran amok. But in doing so
You could also be causing more harm than good.
Thank you Eddie for your comments. My BS is high in the a.m.and then pretty good unless I am really bad. Like you, I have none of the listed complications and I was diagnosed 8 years ago.I have never seen an endocrinologist, but some one who worked for one said that her boss felt BS numbers were somewhat unique to individuals. I take supplements, try to eat well and exercise. I know if I start feeling shaky and check my number it may be as high as 105, but I feel weird. I have been hypoglycemic since I was a kid as was my older sister. She has great BS, but does not take care of herself as well as I do. She does have glaucoma, restless legs and A-fib.
Susan, there is a site called Forbidden Doctor.com. You fill out a questionnaire (very long) and you can actually schedule a free consult with a nutritionist. I did it a while back and may again. It is run by a chiropractor and his wife and they REALLY know their nutrition. Please try it.
this a very good article on high blood sugar and diabetise.
My Endrocronoligest wants me to schedule certain tests including seeing an Optomoligest to examine the back of my eyes to rule out Diabetics… Exam is Normal,.. A Blood Test… Including many different ones & AIC … Glucose… And Urine… (All Coming Up … Have a One time a day blood sugar pill… Wants me to measure my glucose with blood stick… Saw A Nutritionist for education on Diet!… Had a Bone Density test… Have Osteoporosis…… I will be turning 80 Yrs in June!!
All of above relate to me and I’m afraid that it may be too late. I am pricking finger everyday and so far ranging 100 and lower
Hello, I have not been diagnosed as being diabetic as of yet. However, I am the 71 year old man child of a African American mother who struggled with that malady for quite a number of years before succumbing to it’s effects.