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Blood glucose

Glucose is a monosaccharide, the most basic unit of carbohydrates.

The human body cannot create glucose on its own; it enters the organism through food intake. In necessary or urgent situations, the body obtains glucose from the transformation of fats or proteins.

Glucose penetrates the cells and is used as energy to maintain vital functions of the body. In order for the organism to make use of glucose, it produces insulin which is a hormone that helps your body´s cells use the glucose.

Glycaemia is the glucose that circulates in the blood. The normal blood glucose level in human beings for non-diabetics should be stable between 75 to 110 mg/dL.

Basal Glycaemia is the amount of glucose present in the blood first thing in the morning after fasting (not eating for at least 8 hours).

Postprandial blood sugar measures blood glucose after eating a meal. The foods responsible for higher levels of glycaemia are those high in carbohydrates. In non-diabetic persons, although blood glucose levels rise after a meal, they return to normal approximately 2 hours later.

The following terminology can be differentiated:

  • Insulin index: a measurement used to quantify the typical insulin response to various foods.
  • Glycaemic Index: it is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food´s effect on a person´s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level.
  • Glycaemic load: it is a number that estimates how much the food will raise a person´s blood glucose level after eating it.

A food can have a very high glycaemic index; nevertheless the amount consumed in a portion may not have a great incidence on glycaemia.

There are some clinical situations intermediate between normal levels and confirmed diabetes known as altered glucose metabolism, a term now used rather than pre-diabetes which has fallen into disuse. This alteration is:

  • A metabolic alteration that is midway between normalcy and diabetes
  • A risk factor for developing diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular illnesses

There are two clinical forms:

  • Altered basal glycaemia: the stage used to define basal glycaemia between normal glycaemia and diabetes. It is defined between the 110-125 mg/dl margins, according to WHO and IDF.
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT): the stage defined by a plasma glyacemia in venous blood between 140 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl two hours after the 75 gr. glucose tolerance test.

It is considered Diabetes Mellitus if:

  • The level of glycaemia in the blood plasma after fasting is equal to or greater than 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/l) in at least two tests.
  • There are symptoms of diabetes and a random glycaemia level in the blood plasma greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl (11,1 mmol/l). It is not necessary to be fasting nor a second test.

There is a glycaemia level in the blood plasma equal to or greater than 200 mg/dl (11,1 mmol/l) two hours after the taking the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test with 75-gram glucose.

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