You are likely aware that continuous glucose monitors, CGM, are becoming an increasingly popular way to monitor blood glucose, a wearable device that, through a fine needle inserted into the skin, continuously monitors blood sugar levels (actually tissue levels). It is intended primarily for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, people who have been advised by their doctors, diabetes educators, and public health campaigns to follow dietary guidelines.
Dietary guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the USDA, as well as agencies that dispense dietary advice such as the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and others, advocate a diet that is low in total and saturated fat, rich in “healthy whole “grains,” with everything else, such as ice cream, candy, and snacks, “in moderation.” Anyone wearing a CGM while following such conventional and widely-advocated dietary guidelines quickly see how high blood sugar ranges after a standard “healthy” meal. Even if your fasting glucose were ideal at, say, 87 mg/dl, blood sugars following a meal of breaded chicken, green beans, and biscuits would yield blood sugars that typically reach 180 mg/dl or some other high number. If you were pre-diabetic, 250 mg/dl would be typical.
Of course, John Q. Primary Care will tell you that, provided your blood sugar does not exceed 200 mg/dl, you are fine, nothing to worry about. Translation: You do not yet require medications like metformin or insulin to manage your blood sugar. But is this the same as optimal health? Absolutely not. A blood sugar of 180 mg/dl, for instance, is responsible for:
- Generating insulin resistance–the process that underlies type 2 diabetes, weight gain, visceral fat accumulation (evident on the surface as “love handles”), coronary disease, hypertension, joint deterioration, inflammation, even cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s dementia, and cancers.
- Irreversible glycation–Whenever blood glucose ranges above 100 mg/dl, it irreversibly changes the structure of proteins in your body. In joints such as hips and knees, glycated cartilage proteins make cartilage stiff and prone to deterioration, taking you closer to bone-on-bone arthritis. In the eyes, it means that the proteins in the lenses of your eyes are altered, leading to opacities–cataracts. In the thoracic aorta, the collagen-containingt supportive tissue is made brittle and less able to tolerate the beat-to-beat stress, leading to development of atherosclerotic plaque and aortic enlargement, processes that lead to “mini-strokes” and aortic aneurysms, a catastrophic situation. In the skin, it leads to glycated collagen that makes skin dry and wrinkled, accelerating the effects of aging.
- Changes in the intestinal microbiome–Microbes love sugar. Just three days of an all-inclusive vacation in Cancun with a few too many sugary Margaritas is enough to dramatically change your intestinal microbiome in ways that carry lifelong implications for health. A CGM would graphically illustrate just how awful those Margaritas are for blood sugar.
In other words, blood sugar levels that your doctor regards as normal are extremely destructive for long-term health. As more and more people begin to recognize that a blood sugar of 150, 180, or 250 mg/dl after a meal low in fat and rich in “healthy whole grains” is devastating to health, they will retreat from this awful dietary advice. Perhaps many will also begin to recognize that modern life means experiencing deficiencies in nutrients that influence blood sugar responses and thereby supplement vitamin D, magnesium, iodine, and fish oil that all add up to improved insulin and blood sugar responses.
CGM devices therefore serve as lights in the darkness of absurd dietary advice. They will expose dietary guidelines as destructive and disease-causing, causing people to reconsider what constitutes a healthy diet. It will cause people to recognize that foods like eggs, avocados, olive oil, and bacon have no effect on blood sugar, while foods like multi-grain bread, orange juice, and breakfast cereals are absolute blood sugar disasters.