Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Find Out About Glucose


There's a lot of lingo thrown at you when you have diabetes. Here we've collected the must-know terms and translated them into plain language.



What it means: Glucose is a type of simple sugar and the main source of energy for the body’s cells. Your body produces glucose when it breaks down the foods you eat. Carbohydrates are the largest source of glucose from food. After your food is digested, glucose moves into the blood stream and is carried throughout the body, where it is used by cells for energy. When it’s in the bloodstream, it’s known as blood glucose or blood sugar. 

What it means to you: Your body needs the hormone insulin to “unlock” cells so they let glucose move from the bloodstream to inside the cells where it’s used for energy. If you have diabetes, you’re either not making enough insulin to unlock the cells, or the insulin you’re making isn’t working correctly in your body. The result is high blood glucose.

Too much glucose circulating in your body can cause serious damage to your organs, blood vessels and nervous system. That’s why it’s so important to keep blood glucose within a healthy range. Everyone has different blood glucose targets depending on their unique health needs. The American Diabetes Association has general guidelines for pre-meal glucose levels of between 70 and 130 mg/dl (4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L according to the Canadian Diabetes Association or CDA) and no higher than 180 mg/dl 1 to 2 hours after starting a meal (5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L 2 hours after eating if your A1C is on target, also per the CDA).


Published on March 20, 2015.


Compiled by Paula Ford-Martin, MA. Paula is the author of The Everything Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes


Piotr Adamowicz/iStock/Thinkstock
Reviewed by Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE on January 17, 2015.
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