Glucose is Worth Measuring: Here’s Why!
October 13, 2022
October 13, 2022
Over the past 50 years, blood glucose testing has been crucial in controlling diabetes and reducing its consequences. Moreover, people without hyperglycemia can also monitor their blood glucose levels to understand better how their dietary and lifestyle decisions affect their health. Over one-third of the population is at risk of diabetes (prediabetes). Metabolic syndrome also increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Therefore, it is crucial to look after one’s metabolic health.
Through Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), you can study how your body responds to changes in your food and lifestyle. It is a real-time measurement that shows the amount of sugar in the extracellular fluid immediately beneath your skin (a close proxy for the amount of glucose in the bloodstream). With the use of closed-loop feedback, you may be able to make better choices and, ideally, lower your risk of metabolic dysfunction. The effects of CGM usage in individuals without a diagnosis of metabolic impairment are still a subject of many valid concerns. However, anecdotal data indicates that it may be profoundly transforming.
One of the good examples of an effective CGM available in the market is the BIOS which is a part of the HealthifyPro 2.0. The BIOS continuously measures your blood glucose levels and sends the measurements to you and your coach through linked mobile devices. You get a notification whenever the levels are more or less than the recommended levels. In addition, the personal coaches are privy to the data and help you design a food and activity plan based on your blood glucose levels. So, they help remove the spikes in blood glucose levels and control them by modifying your food intake, combinations, and quantities. It becomes a sustainable way of life in the long run.
Monitoring blood glucose levels aids in identifying the condition and preventing it from progressing to the next stage. Furthermore, glucose monitoring can provide helpful information such as glucose fluctuation.
The fasting blood sugar test (FBS) measures the amount of sugar in your bloodstream after eight hours of calorie deprivation. Next, the haemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) calculates your three-month average blood glucose levels. Finally, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) gauges how your body reacts to high sugar intake.
Depending on the results, each test places the subject in one of three categories: standard, prediabetes, or diabetes. As per the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a fasting glucose number below 100 mg/dL is “normal’. On the other hand, levels between 100 and 126 mg/dL signal insulin resistance or prediabetes values greater than 126 mg/dL signify diabetes.
Higher blood glucose levels can cause higher health risks even among these populations. For example, even though both individuals fall within the prediabetes range, a person with fasting glucose of 125 mg/dL has a chance of heart attack and stroke up to 1.5 times higher than that of a person with fasting glucose of 101 mg/dL. Additionally, among individuals with “normal” fasting glucose levels, those with values between 91 and 99 mg/dL may be nearly three times more likely to acquire diabetes than those under 83 mg/dL.
In a systems biology approach, the body gets viewed as existing in several states, ranging from a steady, healthy condition to a well-before change state where markers may still be within a “healthy” range. Still, the system is less stable and more likely to tilt into the third state of illness. When the system reaches this stage, change becomes challenging. The key is that there is a higher probability of avoiding metabolic conditions with early identification of metabolic dysfunction.
These metabolic modifications take time to develop. The tests are just not carried out frequently enough for many individuals with “normal” glucose control to identify and stop the slip into the next class or condition. You can only accurately determine your position on the metabolic spectra by constant assessment.
An issue with the current panel of blood tests is that they only capture a single moment in time (fasting glucose, OGTT) or an average (HbA1c). As a result, they all fall short of capturing the changes in blood glucose levels that people experience throughout the day and night.
Understanding these oscillations is essential because glycemic variability, or how much your blood sugar levels rise and fall throughout the day, is independently linked to less favourable health outcomes. For example, the relationship between fluctuating glucose levels and cardiovascular issues in diabetics is due to oxidative stress and protein glycation mechanisms.
Individuals with “normal” glucose levels may experience this type of fluctuation more frequently than previously thought. For example, according to a 2018 survey, substantial post-meal glucose increases that 15% of the time approached the prediabetic zone were experienced by 16 out of 20 subjects categorised as normal on routine clinical testing.
Numerous chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, renal failure, cancer, retinal damage, and cognitive decline, are at risk because of too much post-meal blood glucose rises. Therefore, eating to maintain stable blood sugar levels and promote metabolic flexibility is critical to your health and wellness.
According to the US Centers for Diseases (CDC), no more than 10% of a person’s calorie consumption should come from added sugars. That works up to around 50g (12 teaspoons) daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. The American Heart Association recommends a lower limit of no more than 6% of calories from added sugars (about 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men). Additionally, the WHO believes that a daily allowance of 5% would be reasonable.
No more sugar is necessary for your body. Gluconeogenesis allows us to produce glucose from entire meals like fruits and vegetables. Added sugar is present in a wide range of common foods, including salad dressings, ketchup, yoghurt, and store-bought bread, in addition to the apparent offenders—soda, desserts, cookies, baked goods, and candy. And it goes beyond simply increased sugar, as they lack fibre and protein. Grain products can also result in a surge in blood sugar levels. White rice and other fruits containing starches can also significantly raise blood sugar levels.
According to a recent editorial in the journal JAMA, “normal is normal is normal” when it comes to glucose levels. In other words, you should consider yourself normal and don’t need to worry about your glucose levels unless you have been diagnosed with diabetes. The following evidence, however, seems to refute that claim: A startling 122 million Americans or 45 % of the adult population, have diabetes or are at risk of getting it.
Concerning “normal,” it’s also important to note that in the research mentioned in the JAMA criticism, which claims that people without hyperglycemia are within the average limits for glucose 96% of the time, 55% of the participants were under 25, and 37% were kids (aged 6–18).
The existing notion of normal is insufficient, as seen by the rising diabetes rates in this nation and worldwide. Less than 1% of Americans had diabetes in 1958. That number has increased more than ten-fold by the year 2020. This expansion has occurred despite impaired fasting glucose (IGT) having been defined as a condition between healthy and diabetic status since 1979 and the more inclusive term “prediabetes” gaining popularity in the years that followed.
Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be managed or prevented. Despite this, diabetes rates are rising. When someone is diagnosed with prediabetes, it may have been years since they had a healthy metabolism. The cellular and system damage that follows has already started to manifest. Alarm bells need to be sound considerably louder and earlier, which indicates that you urgently need to change how you define normal.
The GI (glycemic index) system is comfortingly straightforward. However, the tool has certain drawbacks. Notably, a food’s GI defines the impact of consuming a certain quantity compared to consuming a similar amount of carbohydrates from a control food, such as pure glucose, that contains 50g of accessible carbohydrates. Foods can affect your blood sugar levels differently depending on how they are prepared, combined in recipes, and served on your plates.
More significantly, each of us has different body structures. Your DNA, epigenome, metabolic activity, microbiome, and even highly individual traits like how tense you are or how much sleep you get affect how your body responds to food. GI can give a rough indication of how a platter of potatoes compares to a piece of tofu. However, you can learn about differences in individual responses to various conditions by observing the real-time changes in your blood glucose levels.
Monitoring glucose can enhance the daily quality of life and metabolic health. Many of us have felt the agony of a blood sugar crash. We experience it when a surge and subsequent drop in glucose levels occur after a meal or sugary snack. Over Consuming refined carbs causes your blood glucose levels to spike. By releasing a large amount of insulin to assist in bringing glucose into your cells or storage, your pancreas attempts to control those blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, the insulin levels are far too high even after the extra glucose gets eliminated, which causes an overcorrection and consequent low blood sugar.
Studies associate uncontrolled blood sugar levels with low mood and anxiety, “brain fog,” regressions in cognitive function, disrupted sleep, persistent pain, and futile exercise. On the other hand, stable blood glucose can improve your wellbeing, productivity, mood, and energy levels. In addition, CGM can assist us in identifying your unique spike triggers because not everyone reacts to all foods similarly.
Doctors have been increasingly worried about the global pandemic of metabolic dysfunction for more than three decades. In theory, metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that include high blood glucose levels and sharply increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, is avoidable by following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, quitting smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation. Yet now, just 13% of Americans are deemed “metabolically healthy.”
According to Matthew Laye, PhD, a researcher at the College of Idaho who focuses on workout metabolism, physiology, and human performance, “You may work out for a month, and nothing seems to happen.” You haven’t shed any pounds and are unable to detect improvements in your health. You then cease. Exercise might seem like a lot of work. When the benefits aren’t immediately apparent, it’s easy to justify skipping it. The high-fat, high-sugar meals that light up your brain’s reward centre are what you are hard-wired to seek out.
However, you know that those who use fitness trackers are more likely to stick to exercise regimens, leading to better health results. Also, this is because wearables offer a “closed feedback loop” that shows us concrete, real-time evidence of how your wise decisions are paying off. Also, since you see the input as a reward, you are more motivated to persevere.
Studies have shown that CGM can help people with Type 2 diabetes better regulate their blood sugar levels than conventional finger-prick glucose monitoring (SMBG). Furthermore, it can efficiently deliver 50–100 times more readings in a given period than even the most diligent SMBG user can in a given period. Also, it offers far less discomfort, making it an unrivalled source of knowledge for the person wearing the device and their health coaches.
Even though very little anecdotal evidence supports the claim, those with “normal” blood sugar can still benefit by measuring their glucose levels. These early success stories should spur us to research further the possibility of wider usage of CGM and similar blood sugar monitors. The CGM system has only been around for a few decades and is still only available in the US with a prescription. In India, it is available without a prescription also. It makes perfect sense that there haven’t been any finished, extensive investigations evaluating its effectiveness in the general public up to this point. However, it would help if you did not mistake a lack of evidence for lack of proof.
New ideas become proof of medicine by taking promising findings and putting them through scientific investigation. For example, physicians had doubts about CGM’s ability to help individuals with diabetes improve their glycemic control for the first ten years that it was accessible to them. However, with organisations such as the American Diabetes Association, the Endocrine Society, and the NIH releasing guidelines for its usage in clinical practice, the technology is now universally acknowledged as advantageous for these groups. But before diabetes sets in, you need a mechanism to access and examine your blood sugar profiles to put a dent in the pandemic of metabolic dysfunction. The potential of CGM to support and guide healthy lifestyle choices among those who have not yet exceeded that threshold is only beginning to be recognised by medical research.
The amount of glucose in your blood can significantly impact your metabolic health. Therefore, regularly checking your blood sugar level can help us manage and keep the level within the ideal range. Combining the right foods is essential in managing the spikes in one’s blood glucose levels. For example, you always eat toast and coffee in the morning. Adding fruit and an egg to it may arrest the spikes. So what happens? As a result, your CGM shows the plateauing in your blood glucose levels with this dietary intervention. Therefore, you learn the right food combinations that work for you. The CGM works as an enabler. It is a record of your body available to you. Subsequently, you learn to listen to your body and combine the right food groups for your metabolic health to work correctly.
The best way to measure your body’s reaction to diet and lifestyle is through continuous glucose monitoring. The consequences of poorly controlled hyperglycemia are clear. Therefore, adopting a diet that strives for stable blood glucose levels is imperative for improved metabolic health.
You gain an enhanced understanding of how your body works. Physiological observability helps you learn more about yourself and what supports your long-term health. A glucose increase shouldn’t ever be a cause for concern or embarrassment but rather a moment of truth. The aim is to promote conscious eating and avoid processed meals and too much sugar. The data from CGM provide unique insights for you to make the necessary interventions.