What Do Our Glucose Checks Tell Us?

If you’ve read Don’t Die Early, you know that better understanding our glucose metabolism is a vital part of a preventive health lifestyle. A few days’ experimentation with an inexpensive, easy-to-use home glucose meter can tell us far more than we can learn from the routine blood work during our annual physical. Moreover, what we learn with our home glucose meter can warn us far sooner that we’re on a path towards Type 2 diabetes.

The Usefulness of Postprandial Glucose Readings

My friend, whom I’ll call “Mr. White,” was compelled by Don’t Die Early to understand his glucose metabolism better, so he bought a glucose meter and box of test strips. Over the next few days, he tested a number of typical meals to see how they affected his blood glucose. While the effort was slightly inconvenient, Mr. White quickly became accustomed to checking is glucose right before and at one- and two-hour intervals after finishing each meal. A single box of 50 test strips was enough practice with the glucose meter and then check his glucose before and after 15 meals during a typical week. What did Mr. White’s readings tell him? Let’s take a look at one of his typical glucose curves:

As you can see, Mr. White’s first reading of 90 mg/dL (his fasting glucose) is still in a range that most physicians would call “normal.” But take a look what his typical meal did to his glucose levels:

  • one hour after finishing the meal, Mr. White’s blood glucose jumped from 90 mg/dL to 150 mg/dL
  • two hours after his last bite, his glucose level was 165 mg/dL

As I discuss in Don’t Die Early, Dr. Richard Bernstein, the engineer-turned-physician who invented and championed the personal glucose meter, states that blood glucose levels above 140 mg/dL are “toxic” to internal organs. In addition, many other studies indicate that physiological harm occurs every time our blood glucose levels exceed 100 to 120 mg/dL.

So, what has this quick and easy test shown Mr. White? Very simply, it shows that the security Mr. White has felt from his “normal” fasting blood glucose level is a false security. Because his typical meals are sending his blood glucose levels into toxic ranges multiple times per day, he is propelling himself down the path towards becoming an insulin-dependent, Type 2 diabetic, complete with all of the associated risks and complications.

That’s a powerful insight from a $40 purchase and a few minutes of effort.

Next Time: A bit about Mr. White’s fasting glucose.

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