How do your blood sugars react when you get sick? Let me know!
If you prefer a written version of this information, please keep reading:
Influenza & Type 1 Diabetes
Last week, I was very much under the weather, and I did not manage to do anything. Last week, I spent the whole week in bed, because I got a nasty case of the influenza. This never happens to me *touch wood*, I never get sick like that. So it was a first in a good while. I also got a question about this, which is today’s topic on Type 1 Thursday:
As a Type 1 diabetic, eating very low carb, what happens to blood sugars and ketones when I got that sick?
No. It didn’t go perfectly, let’s just be honest about that. I definitely did not have any smooth CGM lines during last week when I was really, really ill. And it’s not an easy feat to try to get, especially as a Type 1 diabetic, but definitely also as a healthy, “normal” person, whatever you want to call it. What did I do, how did I handle it, and what happened to me? Maybe it can help you, if the influenza gets you, too!
I heard today that just in Switzerland, we have about three virus strains going around right now. That’s a lot! I think I just had one of the influenza strains. Last Tuesday, I was so ill that I thought I had pneumonia. I was 99% sure that I had pneumonia. I went to the doctors to get an X ray, especially to check that it wasn’t pneumonia. Well, it wasn’t. But I really felt that badly. I really am not one of these people who just runs to the doctor for whatever, there has to be a legitimate cause for me to even visit a doctor’s office. That’s how bad I was last week. And I’m amazed at my body for turning something that I thought was pneumonia just a week in a bit ago to standing here. You know, I was fine already last weekend, again, and that is astonishing to me that my body managed to get turned around That will and I would like to thank my wonderful gut bacteria. And I would like to think that I did a few things right, which I will get into a little bit later in this life.
Influenza & Blood Sugar?
But first of all, I wanted to go through what happens to your blood sugar when you get ill, because it will go up. Evidently, your blood sugar will go up, especially if you’re a Type 1 diabetic, because you are, of course a little bit more (I don’t like to say it, but), a little bit more sensitive towards infections that way. Blood sugar goes up, for sure. And what can you do against that? Well, you can actually just manage as well as you can. Increase your basal as much as you dare to until you see an effect. With that in mind, I was on + 200% basal on my insulin pump, and it barely budged from 10-11 mmol/l, around the 200’s mg/dl. That was of course scary for me, as I normally have quite good blood sugars. It was good to to know that it was the infection causing it and nothing that I ate, because I also fasted due to that I had such a sore throat and I was coughing so much that I couldn’t eat anything for four days. I only had broth, tea, soups and water for four days. And I think that also helped to turn the influenza around a little bit quicker.
In addition to this, your bolus is not going to be the same as when you’re not sick. Your corrections and mealtime insulin is not going to be as effective, that ratio will also go up, get worse, and you will need more insulin. I used almost 50 units of insulin in one of the days that when I was the sickest, and that I haven’t done since eating high carb, so it was quite bad.
Remember to hydrate because both having influenza and having that high blood sugars will dehydrate your body. So think about hydrating a lot the whole time, sip small sips even if you have the worst throat ache in the world (like I did!) Also consider adding electrolytes, because that can be something that could help you.
Influenza & Ketones?
What happened to my ketones? Normally my ketones are under 2.5 mmol/l on a very low carb way of eating. And this seems to be a normal thing for me. As soon as they go over I get a little nervous. As ketones are never really a goal for me, I don’t really measure them too often, but when I do, they seem to be staying under the 2.5 mark. Because I was fasting, liquid fasting, and because I was sick, my body needed more energy, and because my blood sugar was maybe a little bit high, and my ketones went up to 4.3 mmol/l.
This was actually nothing that worried me at this point, though, because I didn’t feel worse (I already felt like absolute shit…) But the ketones didn’t actually worry me any extra, because I knew I was doing everything that I could for them to do their job. I just chose to monitor them and as long as they didn’t go higher, didn’t have a panic attack about it, and I didn’t worry about it. My theory is that both blood sugar and ketones go higher, because your body needs more energy to get well again, the immune system needs more energy to kick the nasty bugs that you are fighting. I don’t know, maybe the this is not even true, but if you do know why blood sugar goes up when you are ill, and also ketones, please let me know in a comment! I’d be really interested to know from someone who really knows their stuff.
How do you treat a really bad influenza, especially as Type 1 diabetic (but also as a normal person)? I would say hydration is definitely the number 1 thing! Your body can survive without food and might actually get healthier quicker without food. But hydration – we need to hydrate a lot. So make sure you flush out those nasty bugs and the high blood sugar. Make sure you hydrate when you get sick!
Also painkillers, I cannot tell you… I don’t normally take painkillers at all. But last week, they were a Godsend. And I had water soluble ones so I didn’t have to swallow any tablets. Absolutely amazing, saved my life.
Throat lozenges with that numbing effect also really helped me to get through the influenza. Along with echinaea, I have a specific one in a alcohol solution that really helps your immune system to get into a higher gear. To sip, I had my beautiful, beloved “throat coat” tea, which I love when I am sick, because it really feels like your throat gets a coat! Also CBD oil, because it is anti inflammatory, and can help with all the mucous-y stuff going on in your face.
So that’s what happened to me last week, I got sick, blood sugar up, ketones up, but I was not worried because I knew my body was just doing its job in trying to make me healthier.
How do you react with your blood sugars when you get sick? And please let me know in a comment somewhere on the inter-webs and I’ll be happy to chat with you there.
Are nutritional supplements needed for people with diabetes? And, which ones could potentially help?
Some say they can help diabetes management, others say supplements are the hugest waste of time and money. So what should you believe?
Here’s my take on nutritional supplements, and which ones may make sense for you to explore.
What supplements do you take, if any? Why?
If you’d prefer to read this information, please find a written version below:
The topic for today is supplements and nutritional supplements. Are they are needed for people with diabetes? Do they actually help at all? Is there a point of taking them? Or why should you take them at all? It’s quite a weird topic here because this one I can actually somehow give a little bit of advice on in comparison to last week’s episode where I couldn’t really say anything.
What are nutritional supplements? They can be anything from enzymes, for digestive issues, to amino acids that you may need for something specific that is not working properly in your body, vitamins, minerals. herbs, if you find that they help for something. It doesn’t have to be diabetes that you’re taking supplements for, it can also be something else. And why would you take them as a Type 1 or Type 2, as a diabetic? Well, some have been proven to increase your insulin sensitivity, for example, which we can all appreciate very much. It can also lower inflammation, some of them that have been studied on that in that department. That can also be good. because fluctuating blood sugars do cause a lot of damage, not only complications of diabetes. If you think of inflammation as rust in a chain, they can basically make your body feel like a rusty chain. And who wants that? Nutritional supplements are there to add the nutrition that you may be normally wouldn’t get or not enough.
I, myself, do take supplements. I have optimised my supplement game quite a few years ago when I really studied this and really got into what is good for people wanting a potentially healthier blood sugar management, improving your insulin sensitivity. I found that if I take the supplements in “batches”, so I buy a package of them and I eat them until they’re finish, then I have a break, then I eat them again, I noticed the most actually benefit for myself. That’s only myself and cannot be said for any other person.
What do I consider the most important supplements for blood sugar management, at least in my own case? I’ll also mention a few more that I’m currently not taking myself.
Number one of what I take myself is chromium. It helps the body to use glucose in a more efficient way. And it has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity in that way. Chromium is one of these classic ones that I think when I was growing up, it was said to “help people with cravings”. My guess is that just means that it gets the nutrition in the form of glucose actually to be used better by the body- That’s why it would curb cravings, because cravings are sometimes (not all the time but sometimes) a lack of nutrition that is masking behind that.
Number two is another mineral that is magnesium. I swear by magnesium, I love it! I sleep better, for example. It helps the body relax, it builds up bones, it helps build and relax your muscles, and it also helps your insulin sensitivity to increase. That’s why I really, really like it. If you want a band aid of nutritional supplements, I would say magnesium is a big one of them, because it helps in so many ways! It can really be beneficial for a lot of things. Doesn’t have to be, but it is in many cases.
Vitamin D3 Supplement
Especially this time of year when is grey and crappy outside, vitamin D3 comes to the rescue. The “sun hormone” is what they call it in some publications. When the skin is hit by sunlight, cholesterol helps to build vitamin D3 to help the body with actually almost anything. That’s why they lean towards calling it a hormone, because of all the benefits it has. Vitamin D3 is unbeatable and if you have too low vitamin D, it can cause problems. Low vitamin D3 is linked to auto- immunity, that has been shown in a couple of studies. That’s my main reason why I take it, but also because I noticed it on my energy levels when my vitamin D3 is not in range. I really have to look out.
Zinc is very helpful for the immune system, which you know, if the immune system works properly, maybe I don’t have to be sick that much? That’s also what vitamin D3 does, it can also help your immune system to function properly. I take supplements that help my immune system along so that I don’t have to be sick. Being sick complicates diabetes management a lot, whether you have good control normally or not – it doesn’t really matter. Zinc does a whole lot of other things, as well, for example, it activates the insulin signalling pathways in the body so that the body can realise that there is insulin, and in that way may increases your insulin sensitivity. It can also help in the processing of insulin and very many other things when it comes to insulin in a normal, healthy body, but also for us diabetics.
Omega 3 Supplement
Omega 3 fatty acids is another supplement I take. I don’t generally eat that much fish when I am in Switzerland because I’m not close to an ocean. I’m in the middle of Europe, put a pin in the middle Europe, and you get somewhere in Switzerland. I just don’t feel that fish is that fresh that often and that’s why I normally don’t eat that much fish when I’m here. When I’m by the ocean, say on a Mediterranean island, for example, I do eat a lot more fish. There it is actually freshly caught the morning, and for me, that feels a lot better. That’s why i supplement with omega 3 fatty acids when I don’t eat that much fish. Omega 3 can act as an anti-inflammatory in the body. It has not been proven to help diabetes management, per se, but if you get the inflammation reduced, it definitely can help your blood sugar management. What it has been shown to do, though, is to lower triglycerides and raises your so called “good cholesterol”, the HDL, so it does do good things in the body.
CBD Oil Supplement
CBD oil calms you down, it is anti-stressing, anti-anxiety, and leads to better sleep. Sleep is a crucial part in diabetes management! If you don’t sleep well, you won’t have good numbers. Magnesium can also do that, of ocurse. But sometimes you need a booster in this sleep department.
Those are the ones that I take; chromium, magnesium, vitamin D3, zinc, omega 3, basically every day and CBD on and off when I have to. What else could be good for people diabetes?
I don’t like comparing a supplement to medicine, because they can’t be the same. But berberine can have a similar effect on blood sugars, as for example Metformin. It basically can make you more insulin sensitive.
Alph-Lipoic Acid Supplement
Alpha-lipoic Acid is an antioxidant, and it can increase insulin sensitivity, as well. It had also it has also been shown to help a couple of complications of diabetes, like for example, neuropathy or macular degeneration.
Also, you may find it a good idea to take care of those fancy little gut bacteria with some good quality probiotics, because we all know about the brain-gut axis and we know that we feel better when our gut flora is intact. Your gut flora can also be harmed by blood sugar’s fluctuating a little here and there.
Also, thyroid specific things, because another thing that people with autoimmune issues get… are more autoimmune problems! If you do have problems with your thyroid being a bit lazy, maybe a Selenium supplement could help? Or iodine? Do read up on that so that you know what you’re doing!
As always, do check with a healthcare professional or your doctor before you start anything new, and adding anything to your diabetes management.
So what supplements do you take? Do you feel they’re helping? And do you understand why you’re taking them? Let me know and let’s chat more in the comments below.
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