everyday things causing blood sugar spikes
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Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience

In diabetes, either the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin to help the glucose get absorbed into the body’s cells or the body’s cells become resistant to insulin and are thus unable to absorb glucose. In either case, there is a build-up of glucose in the blood with nowhere to go; so, it stays there, leading to high blood glucose or high blood sugar levels.

But did you know your simple, everyday activities like drinking too much caffeine and your menstruation days can elevate your blood sugar levels almost drastically?

Ms. Sherly Ganesh, Nutrition & Dietitian, Columbia Asia Hospital – Hebbal, Bangalore, Karnataka, will help us in understanding how these 8 everyday activities can spike blood sugar levels.

1. Skipping breakfast:

People who skip breakfast or fast until noon may have blood sugar spikes throughout the day.(1) In a study where 22 patients with type 2 diabetes missed their breakfast, it was seen that they had higher-than-usual spikes in blood sugar after lunch and dinner. The body cannot produce efficient glucose when one skips breakfast and its ability to convert blood sugar into energy is reduced. For people with type 2 diabetes, missing on breakfast is also linked with a considerable increase in HbA1c levels.

Here are some delicious diabetes-friendly breakfast recipes to help you start your day on a healthy note!

2. Consuming high amounts of white rice:

A study found that people who ate five or more servings of white rice a week tend to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.(2) To the contrary, people who replaced at least a third of their white-rice servings with brown rice dialled down their risk by as low as 16 percent.

White rice is rich in fast-acting carbohydrates and low in fibre; this means that it speeds up the release of glucose into the blood when eaten. But one does not need to stop having rice entirely. Just keep in mind that one-third of a cup of rice has about 15 gms of carbohydrate, and the general recommendation is to have 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal.

3. Smoking:

Apart from its usual harmful effects, smoking makes your body resistant to insulin. Moreover, smoking in diabetes also increases the chances of heart disease.

4. Over-consumption of caffeinated coffee:

Research shows that drinking coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, may actually reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 8%.(3) In the short term, caffeine does not generally affect blood sugar levels when consumed in moderation. Consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most young, healthy adults. However, when people with type 2 diabetes consume caffeinated coffee for a long sustained period of time, they are more prone to impaired blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity after meals.(4)

5. Menstruation:

The menstrual cycle is regulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to temporary resistance to insulin. Hence, you may notice a rise in blood sugar levels for three to five days before or during your period. These can differ from month to month and may not be consistent, or might vary, elevating difficulties for some.

6. Stress or excessive physical activity:

During situations of stress or excessive activity, the body releases cortisol and adrenaline, respectively, both of which tend to interfere with and increase blood sugar levels.

Here’s how to exercise safely when you have diabetes.

7. Illness like cold or flu:

Illnesses also trigger high blood sugars because of the hormones that are produced by the body to combat illness or flu.

8. Skipping sleep:

If your body is not getting enough sleep or you are skipping on sleep, it can directly affect your blood sugar levels. When you stay up late, your body makes more of the hormone cortisol, which as we already know affects blood sugar.(5)

Your health is in your hands, so ensure you stay on top of things by monitoring your blood sugar regularly to avoid any surprises when it comes to your health.

Photo from Storyblocks


  1. Daniela Jakubowicz, Julio Wainstein, Bo Ahren, Zohar Landau, Yosefa Bar-Dayan and Oren Froy. Fasting Until Noon Triggers Increased Postprandial Hyperglycemia and Impaired Insulin Response After Lunch and Dinner in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Care 2015 Jul; dc150761. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc15-0761
  2. Qi Sun, MD, ScD; Donna Spiegelman, ScD; Rob M. van Dam. White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(11):961-969. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.109. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/416025
  3. Huxley R1, Lee CM, Barzi F, Timmermeister L, Czernichow S, Perkovic V, Grobbee DE. Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2053-63. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.439. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20008687/
  4. Moisey LL1, Kacker S, Bickerton AC, Robinson LE, Graham TE. Caffeinated coffee consumption impairs blood glucose homeostasis in response to high and low glycemic index meals in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1254-61. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469247
  5. Kristen L Knutson. Impact of sleep and sleep loss on glucose homeostasis and appetite regulation. Sleep Med Clin. 2007 Jun; 2(2): 187–197. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2007.03.004.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2084401/


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