Why Would a Non-Diabetic Want to Track Their Glucose?
Your glucose response can reveal a lot about your metabolic health. Even non-diabetics can track their glucose as a strategy to prevent chronic disease.
Understanding your body’s glucose response remains a critical component of any diabetes management plan, but can also serve as a valuable tool for anyone who wants to know the state of their metabolic health.
Tracking your glucose can allow you to discover irregularities in your body’s processing of glucose, learn what causes your glucose to spike, and whether your glucose levels fall into average ranges. This article will delve into the importance of tracking glucose and shine light on some of the metrics that may be most useful for you to track.
Why Is Tracking Glucose Important?
If you have type I or type 2 diabetes, tracking glucose is a standard place to start the management of your disease. However, tracking glucose isn’t just for diabetics; it can prove extremely beneficial for non-diabetic people who would like to establish a baseline understanding of their body’s glucose regulation patterns for other health purposes.
According to Taylor Fazio, MS, RD, CDN, wellness advisor at The Lanby, a members club and boutique healthcare clinic based in New York City that offers innovative and integrative healthcare, “Many ailments and disease states are driven by [irregularities in] blood sugar and inflammation: cancer, sexual dysfunction, frailty, overweight, chronic disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, heart disease, fertility, acne, gout, etc.
“Alzheimer’s disease was recently named Type 3 diabetes [which] shows that a disease that has no current cure can be ideally avoided by something like lifestyle factors,” adds Fazio.
Tracking glucose may be one of the best preventative measures that an individual can employ to take charge of their health, whether they’re diabetic or not.
Fazio refers to controlling blood sugar as, “the most upstream way to prevent the majority of lifestyle-related diseases and preserve health.”
Instead of viewing glucose tracking as a reactive approach to ailments, consider it a viable way to be proactive in protecting your health and preventing avoidable diseases. Even if certain irregularities revealed in your blood sugar metrics don’t point to diabetes or metabolic disorders, they could still indicate other health issues.
What Are the Most Important Glucose Metrics to Track?
Fazio recommends that you begin tracking three important glucose metrics:
- average blood glucose
- glucose variability
- glucose peaks
From there, Taylor explains that your physician can determine what lifestyle and dietary changes you may need to make, order tests for the evaluation of other metrics, and adjust treatments accordingly.
The Signos app displays your glucose levels (including glucose spikes, glucose peaks, fasting glucose, as well as the daily average time you spent in your optimal glucose range) and provides prompts when your glucose spikes and suggests how to bring it back down. Use the Signos app to keep track of all of your glucose metrics in one place.
Glucose Levels & Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test
The fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test measures the concentration of glucose in your blood when you haven’t consumed anything (except for water) for about 12 hours, and is typically the first test that a physician will prescribe if they suspect you might have diabetes. It consists of getting your blood drawn after fasting for at least eight hours. Test results give physicians a clear view of your fasting glucose, but a lab-drawn test is only one data point.
Alternatively, you can see your fasting glucose in an app like Signos. Even non-diabetics can get access to a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) through a Signos membership. The CGM measures the glucose in your interstitial fluid and sends this information via bluetooth to the Signos app, where you can see a line graph of your glucose data.
If you want to begin tracking your glucose levels, this is where you may wish to start. Healthy glucose levels are often associated with healthier weight, better energy levels, and better cognitive skills. On the other hand, abnormally high glucose levels can make it difficult for someone to lose weight and may indicate a complication with glucose regulation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) <sup>1</sup>, average fasting blood glucose concentration ranges ought to waver between 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) and 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L). When fasting blood glucose levels are between 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L), the WHO recommends changes in lifestyle and monitoring. If your fasting blood glucose is 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, your physician could diagnose you with diabetes and implement a treatment plan.
Fasting blood glucose concentration levels measure your blood sugar at one point in time—before eating. But, how do physicians track the average (mean) blood glucose levels Fazio mentioned? Typically, this begins with the gold-standard of diabetic treatment and glucose tracking: glycated hemoglobin tests.
Average (Mean) Blood Glucose Levels & Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) Tests
If you have abnormal fasting glucose levels, your physician may order a glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) test, one of the most indicative benchmark tools physicians currently use to understand, track, and manage blood glucose health. The HbA1c test is sometimes referred to as A1c.
The hemoglobin A1c <sup>2</sup> test measures a person’s blood glucose levels over the past three months. Through the results of this test, physicians may be able to determine your average (mean) blood glucose levels.
A1C is not recommended <sup>3</sup> in clinical situations which may interfere with the metabolism of hemoglobin, such as in hemolytic, secondary or iron deficiency anemia, hemoglobinopathies, pregnancy, and uremia. The glycated albumin (GA) is a test that reflects short-term glycemia and is not influenced by situations that falsely alter A1C levels.
Glycemic variability, or swings in blood glucose levels, is an important metric to monitor. Keep in mind that certain degrees of glucose variability, or fluctuation in glucose, are actually normal; this has to do with circadian rhythms, hormones, and the regulation of very important bodily functions.
However, when swings in glucose become abnormally radical, reaching dangerous peaks or lows, or vacillating between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, this could indicate complications.
Tools such as the ambulatory glucose profile (AGP), glycated hemoglobin (A1c) test, and daily self-monitoring through CGM data and the Signos app can help identify and track glycemic variability.
An adjunct to A1c routine care, self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is a type of test where people with diabetes can measure their blood sugar levels, or glycemia, by themselves by using a glucose meter or CGM. Self-monitoring glucose is a powerful tool for people to track the peaks and lows of their blood glucose levels, but must be prescribed by a doctor. Now, even non-diabetics can monitor their glucose through a Signos membership, which includes a health screening and physician-prescribed access to a CGM.
Why Individual Treatment Matters
Rather than one supremely important glucose metric, it’s most beneficial to keep an eye on multiple glucose metrics at once. This is why individualized treatment is crucial. The more data you can gather about your health, the more your physician can use to evaluate what needs to be done to protect it. No matter what, one of the most crucial aspects of monitoring your glucose is making sure that your treatment plan is individualized. The most important glucose metric to track for one person may be different for another.