Reasons of High Fasting Blood Sugar in Non-diabetics
ByKatarina Meister, ND •April 17, 2023
Optimizing your long-term health starts with your blood sugar. There are nearly 86 million adults with prediabetes in the United States alone. Often these blood sugar imbalances are not addressed until it is medically necessary. In my practice, I continually work with my patients to educate them about their blood sugar even if they have a normal blood sugar. The reason being is that it often takes years of dysregulated blood sugar for the body to finally produce signs and symptoms. The adverse health events associated with prediabetes, or slightly elevated blood sugar, include progression to diabetes, early kidney disease, early neuropathies, early retinopathy, and risk of cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle interventions are not only proven effective for restoring a normal blood sugar in prediabetics, but they are also free of side effects and are widely available. Fasting blood sugar is a great screening test, along with hemoglobin A1c, to see if you are at risk for prediabetes.
Fasting Blood Sugar Ranges:
- Optimal 75-90mg/dL
- Prediabetes 100-125mg/dL
- Diabetes >126mg/dL
If your fasting blood sugar is not optimal – continue reading to understand why your fasting blood sugar may be off.
- Not Enough Sleep – If your fasting glucose is off, it could be your sleep! It only takes an average of 2-hour reduction in sleep to offset your hormones that control your blood sugar. Sleep reduction results in elevated fasting insulin and hemoglobin A1c (average of your blood sugar over 3 months), while it reduces insulin sensitivity. This can lead to insulin resistance, and diabetes. Read more about how sleep affects metabolic health here.
- Stress – High levels of cortisol can raise blood sugar. To bring awareness back into your body and its physiological responses, I often recommend my patients to wear a continuous glucose monitor. This can help them understand their blood sugar and what causes it to spike. Some are unaware that a stressful event is what caused their dysregulated blood sugar levels and not what they ate.
- Having caffeine on an empty stomach – Ever notice how coffee on an empty stomach makes you crave simple carbs?
- Disordered eating schedules – Eating late at night, snacking throughout the day and skipping meals all are recipes for a blood sugar disaster. Not everyone is going to respond well to intermittent fasting or skipping breakfast. This is where a personalized nutrition plan helps my patients understands what works for their physiology.
- Eating too many simple carbs & high sugar foods (corn, white potatoes, fruit juices, dried fruit, cereals, white rice, pasta, bread, processed foods). Switching to foods that are unprocessed is essential! The reason that these foods are better for blood sugar is due to their fiber content, which slows down digestion and thus helps to keep a steady blood sugar.
- Alcohol – especially heavy drinking can lead to higher rates of insulin resistance and impaired glucose regulation.
- High sugar condiments – check the labels for sugar content or inflammatory ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup. I prefer Primal Kitchen brands which contain natural ingredients or making homemade salad dressings/sauces.
- Hormone imbalance, such as PCOS – Read how PCOS is more of a metabolic condition than a hormone imbalance here.
- Medication side effects – such as steroids can lead to higher blood sugar levels.
- Lack of physical activity – regular exercise sensitizes your body to insulin up to 24hrs after a workout. Walking after dinner is a great way to help lower your morning fasting glucose.
- Excessive body fat – the more excess weight you have, the more resistant your muscles and cells become to your own insulin. Strength training, such as lifting weights, helps to not only build muscle and reduce body fat, but it also increases your resting metabolism and sensitizes your cells to insulin. I recommend starting with free weights or body weight exercises – it doesn’t need to be complicated!
- Gut Dysbiosis – this can be implicated in cases of chronic sugar cravings. If you are prone to yeast infections or chronic sinusitis – it might be worth it to check your gut for candida overgrowth. Learn more about common gut disorders with my Gut Reset Workshop (recording available), where I teach you how to promote better digestive function but also improved energy, metabolism and hormone health.
Bansal N. Prediabetes diagnosis and treatment: A review. World J Diabetes. 2015 Mar 15;6(2):296-303. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i2.296. PMID: 25789110; PMCID: PMC4360422.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.