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HomeMedicineInternal MedicineHealthy people can experience frequent diabetic-level spikes in blood sugar

Healthy people can experience frequent diabetic-level spikes in blood sugar

In a study published by PLOS ONE, researchers tested the efficacy of continuous glucose monitoring on detecting specific blood-sugar spikes throughout the day.

Around the world, 422 million people are diabetic. In the United States, 84 million people are pre-diabetic. Pre-diabetics are highly likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime, which is why identifying and treating prediabetes as soon as possible is imperative. Lifestyle interventions to prevent diabetes include exercise and weight loss.

The current methods to test blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes and prediabetes are limited to average measures or single time-point measurements. However, this way of measuring blood sugar levels may miss a large portion of blood sugar spikes in an individual’s daily life.

In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, researchers used continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to test blood sugar levels in individuals without diabetes. For the study, 57 healthy participants wore CGM devices for a minimum of two weeks and up to four weeks. The participants included males and females between the ages of 25 to 76. The CGM devices collected numerous measurements of blood sugar fluctuations.

The researchers also assigned the participants to three standardized meals. The participants ate each meal for breakfast on separate days. One meal was cornflakes and milk, another meal was bread and peanut butter, and the third was a PROBAR. The cornflakes and milk were high in sugar and low in fibre, the bread and peanut butter was higher in fats and proteins, and the PROBAR contained an adequate amount of fats and proteins. Researchers decided that after they obtained data, each participant would be classified into one of three glucotype categories: low, moderate, and severe.

The study found that blood sugar levels rise to pre-diabetic or diabetic status in some healthy participants. Other participants even showed signs of pre-diabetes. Furthermore, the cornflakes and milk meal resulted in severe blood sugar spikes in comparison to the other two meals. This is likely due to the high sugar content.

Allowing participants to wear CGM devices in their natural environments provided researchers with interesting results. While traditional testing for blood sugar levels collects blood sugar levels by single-time measurements, CGM technology provides data on blood sugar fluctuations over time. Predicted to be a useful tool in revealing pre-diabetes, CGM technology is becoming much more recognized and available.

Future studies will help confirm if CGM technology is an accurate form of blood sugar measurement, and therefore if it is a reliable detector of pre-diabetes.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer

Reference: Hall, Heather, et al. “Glucotypes Reveal New Patterns of Glucose Dysregulation.”PLOS ONE. July 24, 2018. 1-23. Online.

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