How is Insulin and Gardening Connected?


Spring is finally here after a long and enduring winter! You’re likely preparing your garden and spending more time outdoors being physically active. So how is gardening connected with insulin?

If you thought insulin comes from plants, it doesn’t – very creative though!

Gardening is a form of physical activity and any physical activities or exercises can affect your insulin and blood sugars dramatically. Picture this situation, you industriously worked on your garden for an afternoon and now that you are back inside but you feel lightheaded and shaky. You then diligently test your blood sugar and to your surprise you are having a low blood sugar spell! Have you ever experienced a similar episode doing other activities like going for a walk, doing yoga, or housework

Here is the simple fact: physical activity or exercise can increase your risk of a low blood sugar spell.

Your body has a complex communication system to regulate blood sugars. When you exercise two things will happen:

1) Increase insulin sensitivity – insulin signals your muscles to take in blood sugar for energy and increase insulin sensitivity results in an amplified insulin signal

2) Improve blood sugar transport – blood sugars are transported from your blood stream and into your muscles for metabolism

Basically your muscle cells become more hungry for blood sugar when you exercise. Consequently, there is less blood sugar floating in your blood stream and can result in a low blood sugar spell.

With the warm weather ahead, many of you will be outside and be physically active. Here are some ways to prevent a low blood sugar from physical activities:

  • Check your blood sugars before your activity

  • Have a snack handy in case you start feeling unwell during your activity

  • Know your medications, some medications (e.g. gliclazide) are more prone to causing low blood sugars than others; ask your pharmacists at High Street Guardian Pharmacy to get more information

  • The blood sugar lowering effects of exercise can remain up to 24 hours after your activity, check your sugars more frequently throughout the day (highest risk in the immediate 4 hours after your activity)

  • If you will be engaging in a long duration of exercise, consider pre-emptively decreasing your insulin dose; speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions

References:

1) American Diabetes Association. Blood Glucose Control and Exercise. 2013. Accessed from: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-started-safely/blood-glucose-control-and-exercise.html?

2) Joslin Diabetes Center. Why Is My Blood Glucose Sometimes Low after Physical Activity? 2016. Accessed from: http://www.joslin.org/info/why_is_my_blood_glucose_sometimes_low_after_physical_activity.html

3) Holloszy JO. Exercise-induced increase in muscle insulin sensitivity. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99(1):338-43.

Disclaimer Statements: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.The medical information on this website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. High Street Guardian Pharmacy makes no representations or warranties in relation to the medical information on this website. appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

The medical information on this website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. High Street Guardian Pharmacy makes no representations or warranties in relation to the medical information on this website.


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