Do I Really Need To Test My Blood Sugar?


I get it...pricking your finger multiple times a day is not fun. And if you're "only prediabetic" is that really necessary?

Not to mention, insurance won't cover your testing supplies if you're only prediabetic.

So do I really need to test my blood sugar then?

Yes. You really do. Let me explain.

Why You Should Be Testing

You can't expect anything to change if you're in the dark about what's happening.

If you're hoping to avoid the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes...you need to test.

You need to know what foods and meals are causing a glucose spike. Every person is different and what causes one to spike won't necessarily spike someone else. This isn't about following what's written somewhere, it's about knowing your body.

Testing will also help you understand the portion size of different carbohydrates you can tolerate and how your blood sugar is impacted when they are part of a balanced meal. Remember, fat and fiber will slow the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream.

Once you dial this in, you can make choices that are right for you. You can keep your blood sugar numbers within optimal range.

Understanding Your Numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) list blood glucose target ranges much higher than I personally recommend.

Here's why:

  • A fasting blood sugar over 110 mg/dL means some of the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin are dying.

  • Any blood sugar over 140 mg/dL causes permanent cell damage.

This tells me that we really should be aiming for optimal ranges of blood glucose. If not, each time blood sugar levels are too high, prediabetes or diabetes may progress faster. I don't think that's what anyone wants.

This also means if you lose too many beta cells in the pancreas you could need insulin for the rest of your life.

Understanding these factors are enough to convince me that we need to be testing our blood sugar regularly.

Beta-cell deficit and increased beta-cell apoptosis in humans with type 2 diabetes. Butler AE, Janson J, Bonner-Weir S, Ritzel R, Rizza RA, Butler PC.Diabetes. 2003;52:102-110.

Other Factors That Raise Blood Sugar

Food is not the only factor that raises your blood sugar.

By testing, you'll also learn what impact stress, poor sleep habits, exercise, and illness have on your blood sugar numbers.

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Illness is a type of stress on the body. Any stress can easily cause an increase of 10-20 mg/dL.

Exercise, however, can actually help lower your blood glucose.

Poor sleep habits will cause your blood glucose levels to increase. Did you know if you have sleep apnea you're twice as likely to have diabetes and vice versa?

Another example is reproductive hormones. Women's menstrual cycles can also play a role in fluctuating blood glucose numbers.

My point is, even after you dial in the food piece, it's still important to understand how other factors can play a role. The only way to know this is, you guessed it ... testing.

Bottom Line

As with most topics I write about, the first step is educating yourself so you can make decisions that are right for you.

We've been told for so long that we should all be eating the same diet (i.e. food pyramid, my plate, low-fat/fat free, etc.) and many of us were raised to believe that the doctor knows all.

Anyone who's ever purchased clothing in the size "one size fits all" knows that's not true.

It's time we shift that mindset.

Your doctor is human and likely struggles to keep up with all the latest research. You are a unique individual with unique life circumstances. You need individualized care, including individualized diet and lifestyle recommendations.

You need to know the facts. The results from testing your blood glucose levels are facts.

Be empowered,

Amanda

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