How Much Sugar Is In Your Blood?

Hard Time Quitting Sugar?

A little note of interest, especially to those of you having a hard time quitting sugar in any shape or form. I was looking for an article that would explain how much sugar our blood has on average. This is important, because when you eat an apple, you eat approximately 3-5 teaspoons of sugar equivalent but what does that mean to your body? I have been puzzled by that since migraineurs are so sensitive to sugar, and the apple has about 4 teaspoons of sugar equivalent in carbs. What is that relative to the sugar in the blood?

You may be surprised to learn that your blood throughout your entire body of around 5 liters has a grand total of 1 teaspoon of sugar! That is, on average, your entire body has ONE teaspoons of sugar at any given time max–if you are healthy. If it is any higher than that–as fasting–you are prediabetic or have full-blown type 2 diabetes. The difference between being diabetic or normal is very little: instead of 1 teaspoon, make that 1.25 teaspoons!

Yep, a quarter of an extra teaspoon of sugar in your blood means you have type 2 diabetes.

Now let’s put this in the context of a wholesome whole apple of 20-25 gr carbs (pretty average medium size apple) which is 4 teaspoons of sugar equivalent once you subtract the fiber. This 4 teaspoons of sugar is four times as much as what your blood should have in it so your body’s entire focus then is to take all that sugar out and instantly move it to your cells. My most used favorite quote from my medical manual:

“…serum Na+ falls by 1.4 mM for every 100-mg/dL increase in glucose, due to glucose-induced H2O efflux from cells” (Harrison’s manual of Medicine, 18th ed. page 4)

What does this mean? It means that the moment you ate that apple, the glucose kicks sodium (Na+) and (H2O efflux) out of your cells. Where does the sodium and water go you may ask? There are only two locations they can go to:

  1. edema collecting outside of your cells causing swelling, puffy eye lids, swollen ankles and toes, etc,. Usually salt is believed to be responsible for this but it is glucose as you can see.
  2. or the other avenue is to urinate it out.
  3. Because water was removed from your cells you will also feel thirsty but drinking now will just cause more edema or make you urinate more or both.

All of the above happens predictably as my carbs threshold tests in my migraine group shows. Now you face two problems: your blood is full of sugar, your cells are full of sugar and these busted your electrolyte homeostasis, causing insufficient voltage, cortical depression, cortical spreading depression, chronic pain and even aura if your disrupted voltage zone is in the visual cortex and edema plus you urinate clear water. Lovely side effects from eating a healthy apple.

When you eat an apple, you suddenly have several times as much glucose in your blood as normal. Your body needs to move the extra sugar out of your blood very fast so you remain healthy and not diabetic. Eating a single apple will not harm you as long as your insulin is sensitive enough and can take the glucose out of your blood in a timely manner!

Unfortunately, if you are a migraineur, you have a compromised insulin system (1-8). You better watch that apple alone, let alone considering eating or drinking anything else with high sugar content! In the migraine group or under the care of the Stanton Migraine Protocol® you have a solution–come visit to find out what that is.

Did you drink a soft drink or a glass of apple juice?

A soft drink and a glass of apple juice (believe it or not) have about the same amount of sugar because it takes 4-5 apples to make a glass of apple juice. So now you are hit with an amazing amount of sugar your body has to clear. This large amount of sugar is not specific to soft drinks or apple juice: it is also represented by just eating fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. For example, a yellow peach, medium size, is about 3 teaspoons of sugar equivalent; a cup of spaghetti is about 10 teaspoons of sugar equivalent, a small baked Russet potato with skin is about 5 teaspoons of sugar, and one slice of wheat bread is 3 teaspoons of sugar equivalent.

I mention to vegetarians and vegans that their diet is all carbs and they often get very angry at that and feel insulted. They feel they eat the healthiest diet on the planet. I think this needs a bit of explanation! Perhaps the word “carbs” is misleading since they seem to think that carbs = refined sugar but don’t be fooled: every single soil grown plant-based food is made of carbs. Carbs are: glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose, starch, and for total carbs fibers (both soluble and insoluble) are included.

This means that everything that is not fat, animal meat, or fish is carbs.

“Recent surveys suggest that nearly 6 percent of all American men in their fifties suffer from gout, and over ten percent in their seventies. The proportion of women afflicted is considerably less at younger ages but still rises over 3 percent by age 60” (Kramer hm, curhan g, the association between gout and nephrolithiasis: the national health and
nutrition examination survey III. 1988-1994. Am J Kidney Dis 2002;40:37-42)

“One mid-century estimate, for instance, put the incidence of gout in India among “largely vegetarians and teetotalers” at 7%.” (Duncan’s diseases of metabolism, p. 632 (source) (Gout is caused by sugar and not protein is the point here… that part was cut off because that is the entire book chapter from Gary Taubes )

This then explains that:

  1. Your blood does not need that much sugar (made from carbs)
  2. Eating your entire diet in carbs is harmful for you (being vegan is harmful for you)
  3. Don’t drink fruit juices, vegetable juices, nut juices, seed juices, smoothies, shakes, or gels–not even coconut water. If you must eat a fruit, eat it whole with skin and fiber attached.
  4. Your body needs very little sugar—you need not eat any extra! You get too much in your everyday food: I just described here a very partial day for some people who are not even vegetarians or vegans.

Now envision your blood and its gooey sugar content if you eat carbs all day. If you want to fully understand this from an MD’s perspective, read this.

Sources:

  1. Salmasi M, Amini L, Javanmard SH, & Saadatnia M (2014) Metabolic syndrome in migraine headache: A case-control study. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 19(1):13-17.
  2. Mohammad SS, Coman D, & Calvert S (2014) Glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome and hemiplegic migraines as a dominant presenting clinical feature. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 50(12):1025-1026.
  3. Bhoi SK, Kalita J, & Misra UK (2012) Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain 13(4):321-326.
  4. Casucci G, Villani V, Cologno D, & D’Onofrio F (2012) Migraine and metabolism. Neurological Sciences 33(1):81-85.
  5. Sachdev A & Marmura MJ (2012) Metabolic Syndrome and Migraine. Frontiers in Neurology 3:161.
  6. Sinclair AJ & Matharu M (2012) Migraine, cerebrovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology 15(Suppl 1):S72-S77.
  7. Bhoi S, Kalita J, & Misra U (2012) Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in migraine. The Journal of Headache and Pain 13(4):321-326.
  8. Guldiken B, et al. (2009) Migraine in metabolic syndrome. The neurologist 15(2):55-58.

Comments are welcome as always!

Angela

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About Angela A Stanton, Ph.D.

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist focusing on chronic pain, electrolyte homeostasis, and genetics. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention and treatment without the use of medicines. As a forever migraineur from childhood, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic variations of all voltage gated channels that modulate electrolytes and voltage in the brain, insulin and glucose transporters, and several other related variants, such as the MTHFR variants of the B vitamin methylation process and many others. Migraineurs are glucose sensitive and should avoid eating carbs as much as possible. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and new research and findings after treating over 4000 migraineurs world wide, all ages and both genders, she is now finishing the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraines, incorporating all there is to know and also hypotheses. It includes an academic research section with suggestions for further research. The book is full of citations to authenticate the statements she makes to be followed up by those interested and to spark further research interest. It is a "Complete Guide". Due out in the summer of 2017. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in NeuroEconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers. For relaxation Dr. Stanton paints and photographs. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook
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2 Responses to How Much Sugar Is In Your Blood?

  1. thomas says:

    I know this is an old article, but my question is that what if your body is actually using and burning that sugar as it slowly trickles into your blood stream. considering that unless your drinking strait sugar, almost all carbohydrates are to complex to be immediately absorbed into the blood stream, there by lessening how fast it needs to be removed. if you take your apple for example, it take 1-2 hours for the apple (20 grams of carbs) for it to fully be broken down by the enzymes, transported to the lower intestine, into the blood stream, filtered through the liver, then transported throughout the system before getting to the kidneys. all this time the sugar is also being used by every organ that is digesting it, 10% by the stomach, 5% by the small intestine, 10% by blood cells, and 20% by the liver. also after you have finished eating your apple, saying you didn’t eat anything else, then during that 2 hour digestion time your body may have been moving as well, which depletes your muscles of their glucose stores depending on the work being done. so now your apple goes into the muscles cells because they are also hungry, causing another area that the sugar needs to go. so now that 20 grams of carbohydrates have been almost completely used by the body solely for energy long before it can be excreted by the kidneys as excess.
    consuming to much sugar, and the wrong form can definitely cause the issues you talked about. but complex carbs (which are slower to digest), eaten in low amounts, followed by doing work, can not cause those same issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment Thomas.

      While you are right in terms of old text books, in reality your saliva enzymes break complex carbs down very fast before they hit your stomach. Also, there is a limited amount of tied down sugar in fruits and starchy vegetables–you can use the USDA food database to see how little.

      Most of the sugar in, say apple since that was your example, is “free sugar” meaning it immediately converts to glucose already partly in your mouth and also in your stomach. I looked up for you Red Delicious apple. 1 medium apple has 22.98 total carbohydrates (includes fiber of 4.1 gr). The net carbohydrate in that apple is 18.88 gr (over 4.5 teaspoons of sugar). Of this, some is connected to the fibers and so the free sugar (listed as “total sugars” under the “full nutrition” section for this apple) is 16.97 gr, or over 4 teaspoons of sugar. Of this, 10.31 gr is free fructose (heads to the liver to become triglycerides and some of it converts to glucose) and the actual free glucose (dextrose) is 3.1 gr. In addition, it also has 3.5 gr sucrose, 50% of which is glucose and the other 50% is fructose–this is the “complex” carbohydrate part that will enter metabolism and return as glucose from your gut. There is also a tiny bit of starch (0.08 gr) in that apple, and that too immediately converts to glucose (that converts to glucose on your tongue). You can find all this information right here where I already selected for the full nutritional info of the apple.

      So, as you see, there is a lot of misunderstanding about glucose and how it is affecting us. Furthermore, if you scroll down to check the nutrition of this apple, you will find it contains nearly zero in everything. It does have some flavonols but they disintegrate in the intestines–no fruit antioxidants ever reach the human immune system so pointless to eat them. This whole apple has 1/4 as much potassium as a half an avocado.

      Another point is the “need” for glucose to be eaten. As you are familiar with the many nutritional systems and also metabolic processes it seems, you must also know that carbohydrates are the only nutrition that are not essential in any sense. Our body can create all the glucose it needs from protein and can even convert fat to glucose. Humans can completely skip carbohydrates and they will function perfectly fine–in fact many Marathon runners, golfers, rowers, bikers, etc., in competitive sports are not eating carbohydrates for energy–they burn ketones for energy, as do I.

      There is also the problem of when we eat anything with naturally present or added sugar (be it an apple), the body MUST get rid of that excess sugar very fast. Eating carbohydrates for energy means you only get 4 Calories of energy per gram so it means a very fast burn and hunger again. You need insulin to remove glucose from your blood. Glucose removal is NOT insulin’s primary role!! It is a signaling hormone whose original function is growth. Once we reach adulthood, our insulin production is supposed to be in decline. Instead, that is when we want to turn it into high gear by sabotaging it for the use of much carbohydrate consumption. The outcome is visibly everywhere you look: insulin resistance ==> type 2 diabetes ==> obesity. By contrast look at those people who eat no or minimal carbs (I cannot envision eating an apple at all in a week! Bleh too sweet). They reverse obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Clearly eating carbohydrates is damaging.

      I cannot tell you how many diabetic vegans I know. Too much carbs will get most people–there may be a small population that is so adapted to carbohydrates that is doesn’t matter but the majority–as you can see–cannot handle carbohydrates. For most people there is no middle ground in sugar consumption because sugar uses D2 dopamine receptors–same as alcoholics and drugs of abuse. D2 overuse ends up with no D2 receptor and that is addiction. Sugar is addictive. There is no “moderate safe consumption”… that is like saying that there is such as “moderate safe cocaine or heroin use”.

      I hope this helps in understanding why eating an apple more than triples the glucose in your blood the moment you finished eating it and why it is a medical emergency for your body to get rid of it.

      Best wishes,
      Angela

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