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Glucose: Fuel for the Body, Crucial to Health

Your blood glucose levels signal how well your body processes carbohydrates. High levels of glucose indicate diabetes, while low levels could mean hypoglycemia. Your physician can measure your glucose level with a blood glucose test. If you are diabetic, test yourself regularly at home.

Everyday your body produces sugars, and when you eat, you take in more sugar. Glucose is one of those sugars, handled by virtually every part of the body, including your liver, muscles and brain. “It’s a necessary fuel in the body,” said Dr. Renee Schickler, endocrinologist at Weiss.

Your body needs glucose to function, making it a key factor for a healthy life. Increasingly, however, people’s glucose levels skyrocket or plummet when the body should be keeping them level. Those sharp rises and falls may indicate diabetes, which occurs when the body fails to process glucose as it should.

As an endocrinologist, Schickler helps diabetics manage their condition with nutritional therapy, pills, exercise and insulin when necessary. She recommends that people ask their doctors to check their blood sugar levels periodically.

People with elevated glucose levels—known as pre-diabetes—should make sure to consult their physicians on a treatment plan. “Pre-diabetics are at risk for possible complications later in life, and if they manage it early, that’s a real boost to their health,” Schickler said.

Managing it early involves eliminating certain sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, developing an exercise plan and using insulin as a last resort. Additionally, recent studies have shown that eating cinnamon or drinking black tea can help maintain healthy glucose levels. Dr. Schickler said she hasn’t seen that data reflected in her own patients. “It doesn’t seem to cause any harm, but does it improve blood sugars? I haven’t seen any changes.”

Dr. Schickler warns that if people decide to incorporate more cinnamon into their diets, they need to make sure to use pure cinnamon, not cinnamon mixed with sugar. She also said people should keep in mind that “we don’t know what excess cinnamon can do. Nobody has studied that.”

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