Healthy Blood Glucose Levels

Healthy Blood Glucose Levels


Healthy Blood Glucose Levels

As a diabetic, you have most likely already been ‘lectured’ by your various health care provides about the importance of keeping your blood glucose levels (BGLs) within a healthy range. There is a very good reason for this – uncontrolled BGLs can, and does, lead to many complications such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, and amputation. While having diabetes may inevitably lead to some form of complication down the track, you can significantly delay the onset and severity of any future complications by keeping your BGLs under control. 

Normal BGLs

For non-diabetics, the body is very good at controlling BGLs and keeping them within a very small range (82-110mg/dl). This is because the pancreas is very good at releasing the right amount of insulin at just the right time to avoid any spikes. As a diabetic, you need to control this yourself through medication, diet and exercise. 

HbA1c explained

HbA1c is a term I’m sure you’ve heard many times from your doctor but do you know what it actually means? 

HbA1c is the term used for a glycosylated hemoglobin test. In simple terms, this test provides your doctor with an average of your BGLs other a three month period. The result of this test (usually given as a percentage) will tell you doctor just how well you are controlling your BGLs. 

For non-diabetics, the normal HbA1c range is within 3.5-5.5%, while a result of 6.5% is considered good for diabetics. The following chart shows how the HbA1c percentage translates into a BGL reading you can understand.

HbA1c %

Average BGL in mg/dl




















A HbA1c result of 6.5% would give you an average BGL of between 127-144mg/dl and will keep you within the recommended levels pre and post meals. 

What should my daily BGLs be?

Controlling your BGLs is definitely a finely tuned balancing act between medication, food and exercise. As you can see from the table above, doctors prefer your BGLs range from 127 -144mg/dl. The primary reason for this is that it keeps your BGLs as close as possible to the levels of a non-diabetic and significantly reduces your likelihood of developing complications in the future. Generally (depending on your age, medication, and any other conditions you may have), it is recommended that you aim for the following BGLs throughout the day:

Fasting                         82-110mg/dl

Before meals               108mg/dl

Two hours post meal   144mg/dl

One hour post meal     180mg/dl 

This means that ideally your BGLs should be below 110mg/dl first thing in the morning, should be no higher than 180mg/dl one hour after a meal, around 144mg/dl two hours after a meal and 108mg/dl or below before a meal. 

Commonsense will tell you that this will take a lot of planning but it can be done with the right medication and by eating the right types of food. In some cases, it may be recommended that you aim for slightly higher BGLs – this is generally the case for the elderly or for children as there are more likely to experience a hypoglycemia episode (a low BGL, less than 82mg/dl). 

Tips for maintaining healthy BGLs

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your BGLs are at a healthy level such as:

  • Medication – speak to your doctor to see if your current medication is right for you. If you are not achieving good BGLs it may be time to increase/decrease your dosage or try a new form of medication. 
  • Timing – when you take your medication can have a big impact on your BGLs. If you are taking insulin, try to follow these rules: if you are taking rapid acting insulin you need to take this just as you are about to eat as rapid acting insulin starts to work within 15 minutes; short acting insulin starts working within 30 minutes and be taken between 10-30 minutes prior to eating. 
  • Eat low GI foods – low GI foods slowly release glucose into your blood stream and keep your BGLs more stable. Visit for more information about low GI foods. 
  • Exercise – regular exercise helps to regulate BGLs. Be aware that the timing of your exercise is important, especially if you are prone to experiencing hypoglycaemia. 
  • Reduce stress – stress and illness can wreak havoc with your BGLs. Eat immune boosting foods (garlic is fantastic for both your immune system and for regulating BGLs) and take time each day to de-stress, even if it’s just for five minutes. 

Above all, remember that sometimes, no matter what you do, you will have high BGLs. This is normal but if you start to experience unexplained high BGLs more than 2-3 times a week (that is, there appears to be no reason at all for your BGLs to be high as opposed to a high reading from enjoying a small sweet treat), then you need to speak to your doctor. 

By having your HbA1c tested every three months and aiming to keeping your BGLs within the recommended range, you can enjoy a life free of the long term complications that can occur from regular high BGLs.


Diabetic Living magazine, Issue 12 2007, pp26-28. Pacific Magazines Pty Limited, NSW