Have you ever noticed your blood sugar going up (or down) while you’re outside, sweating, having fun in the sun?
It’s a thing. And since summer is officially here, we thought you might want to know why it’s a thing.
The sun doesn’t directly make blood sugar go one way or the other in the way that food, exercise, or medication does.
But it very much indirectly affects blood sugar. Here's what you need to know.
High Blood Sugar
There are some obvious reasons for high temps to coincide with high blood sugars (vacation mode means loading up on all the good food and drink!). But there are some other, more subtle factors you should know about.
Being outside, in the heat and under the sun, more often than not causes sweating and dehydration.
When blood sugars are perfect, there’s a perfect mixture of water and glucose in the bloodstream. But as we start to sweat out those water resources, the glucose levels become more concentrated in the bloodstream.
What was a perfect equilibrium of water to glucose ratios turns to a blood flow that’s heavy on the glucose!
Which, in turn, leads to high blood sugars. That extended high means: frequent urination. Which means even further dehydration (are you catching the cycle here?).
But there’s an easy fix! Simply add back in those water resources. When outside -- whether exercising or simply relaxing -- make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to replace the water you’re losing.
Sun and heat can both cause physical stress on the body for different reasons. Stress puts the body into fight-or-flight mode, which causes the liver to release stored glucose for energy (you know, the same energy our ancestors used to run from tigers!).
But who’s stressed while having fun in the sun?
Doing something as simple as sitting on the beach can cause those stress levels to rise, along with blood sugar levels, because of the intense heat.
Extended exposure to either kind of extreme temperature will put major stressors on your body. And stress equals a huge glucose liver dump.
Your body is also going to feel the heat after too much exposure to the sun. AKA sunburns. That pain you feel from sunburns causes actual, physical stress. Cue the stress hormones.
Quick fix? Aloe & advil! These simple, often-overlooked resolutions make for a quick fix and huge difference on sunburn pain and blood sugars.
If your being outside coincides with full relaxation mode, you’re probably not moving as much as usual. That lessened activity state, coupled with vacay-mode food & drink, can definitely play a huge role in higher-than-normal blood glucose levels.
While you’re totally chilled out, just remember that the lack of activity might be cause for a few blood sugar spikes.
A brisk, 20-minute walk or an increased temporary basal rate (for MDI: a few extra short-acting insulin shots a day) should do the trick!
Low Blood Sugar
Most people associate blood sugars with heat and sun. But what about low blood sugars? Those happen, too.
Higher body temperature can lower blood sugar. Heat causes blood vessels to expand; when blood vessels are expanded, the rate at which they absorb insulin increases.
If you’ve stacked your insulin throughout the day (you were high, due to dehydration or carbo-loading at your favorite shrimp shack), that faster absorption rate means you might be bottoming-out soon.
Make sure you have sugar tablets, juice, or gel handy!
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year ☀️
Keep all these factors in mind while you’re soaking up that vitamin-sea and you’ll be just fine. 'Tis the sea-sun!