Blood Glucose and Gravity

I think it’s important that people with diabetes understand blood glucose levels, and I always look for different ways to explain the issue. Somewhere over the past few weeks I saw old video footage of our astronauts hopping around on the surface of the moon, looking like Olympic athletes in space suits. In that video I also saw another way to explain blood glucose levels and diabetes, and I found an explanation of jumping in different gravitational forces to help.

How diabetes blood glucose levels differ from normal blood glucose levels in response to food

First, let’s say here on earth you have a vertical jump of 18” – you are not a NBA basketball star. Your “air time” as you propel to the apex of your jump and return to the ground is about 1 second. Now, picture this jump as being a “normal” blood glucose level response after a meal that includes carbohydrates. That is (this is important), it is normal that blood glucose goes up after eating, and comes back down to a baseline level after a period of time. The digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream raising blood glucose is the “jump”, and the interaction between insulin, excess blood glucose and certain cells is “gravity” returning things to baseline.

Having diabetes means your blood glucose response is similar to your vertical jump on celestial bodies with weaker gravity than earth – both the height of your jump and the “air time” are increased because the effect of gravity is diminished. On Mars, for instance, your vertical jump would be 36” and your “air time” would be 2 full seconds. On the moon you would leap 10 feet high, and stay airborne for 4 seconds- you go higher than normal, and stay higher for longer. With diabetes, your blood glucose levels likely go higher than normal after you eat, and the level stays higher for longer.

I think that’s an interesting image to illustrate how diabetes blood glucose levels differ from normal blood glucose levels in response to food. But, I should also point out that our astronauts were not sailing 10 feet into the air on the moon, and that’s because they changed how they moved in that lesser gravity precisely so they wouldn’t fly through the air without control. It’s a good lesson – our diet, activity levels and medication can help control the height and “air time” of our blood glucose levels too. We just have to be willing to make the changes.

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