Why Are Fasting Blood Glucose Numbers High?

If you have high fasting blood glucose numbers, it may be because of how your body is using the hormones involved with glucose and diabetes -- not the nighttime snack before bed. Read on to see what can cause high morning blood sugars.

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Stumped by high fasting blood glucose results? Join the club. "It just doesn't compute. When I snack before bed, my fastings are lower than when I limit my night nibbles," says Pete Hyatt, 59, PWD type 2.

"It's logical for people to point the finger for high fasting blood sugar numbers at what they eat between dinner and bed, but surprisingly food isn't the lead villain," says Robert Chilton, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The true culprit is compromised hormonal control of blood glucose levels.

The Essential Hormones

During the years (up to a decade) that type 2 diabetes develops, the hormonal control of blood glucose breaks down. Four hormones are involved in glucose control:

Insulin, made in the beta cells of the pancreas, helps the body use glucose from food by enabling glucose to move into the body's cells for energy. People with type 2 diabetes have slowly dwindling insulin reserves.

Amylin, secreted from the beta cells, slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream after eating by slowing stomach-emptying and increasing the feeling of fullness. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are amylin-deficient.

Incretins, a group of hormones secreted from the intestines that includes glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), enhance the body's release of insulin after eating. This in turn slows stomach-emptying, promotes fullness, delays the release of glucose into the bloodstream, and prevents the pancreas from releasing glucagon, putting less glucose into the blood.

Glucagon, made in the alpha cells of the pancreas, breaks down glucose stored in the liver and muscles and releases it to provide energy when glucose from food isn't available.

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