What Are the Recommended Blood Glucose Levels for Diabetes?

A person with diabetes checking her blood glucose levels.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2014
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The recommended blood glucose levels for diabetes vary based on the time of day it is and how long it has been since one has eaten. Upon waking, healthy blood sugar ranges between 80 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/l) and 210 mg/dl (11.6 mmol/l), as well as before meals. Within two hours after eating, blood sugar should be at or below 160mg/dl (8.8 mmol/l) and before bed levels should be somewhere between 100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/l) and 140 mg/dl (7.7 mmol/l), although this depends on how long it is has been since one has eaten. A patient’s doctor is the most reliable source for exact blood glucose recommendations, as these are only rough guidelines.

Those who are diabetic have what is known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a substance manufactured by the body in the pancreas that helps it process and break down glucose, or sugar. When too many high sugar or highly refined carbohydrates are consumed, the body makes more and more insulin to help break them down. Eventually the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, so even more is needed, and this cycle continues until glucose is no longer broken down properly. This leads to excessive glucose remaining in the blood at any given time.


There are various ways to control blood glucose levels for diabetes treatment and prevention. Eating fewer foods containing high amounts of sugar or refined carbohydrates is the first step. Testing one's blood sugar several times daily is another. By keeping track of sugar levels throughout the day, one can see whether diet and exercise are working to keep high blood glucose levels at bay.

Exercise, drinking enough water, and eating plenty of healthy foods are also helpful at lowering blood glucose levels for diabetes treatment. The goal is to not put in more sugar than the body can effectively break down. As less sugar is consumed, less insulin is manufactured, and the body can eventually become less resistant. Some studies have suggested that Type 2 diabetes is reversible if caught early and a proper diet and exercise plan are followed. This is under debate, however, although most experts agree that Type 2 diabetes is totally treatable.

The exact blood glucose levels for diabetes patients may vary based on food consumption and the individual’s makeup. Some may have naturally higher levels, while some may be slightly lower than average. Levels should not range too far from what is considered normal, but a slight deviation can be healthy and normal for some individuals. If blood glucose levels are consistently well above the normal range, though, patients may need to more closely evaluate what they are eating to be sure no hidden sugar is being consumed.


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