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A crash course in glucose

Glucose is:

  • Essential for life.
  • A sugar molecule that gives your cells energy.
  • Something you can balance to improve your health.

Glucose isn’t:

  • Just in carbohydrates or in sweet foods and beverages.
  • Only meaningful to people with diabetes.
  • A health fad.

We could go on, but the key takeaway is that glucose should matter to everyone because everyone needs glucose.

Understanding how your body processes glucose can help you make healthier choices. And the emphasis is on your body, since the process is truly unique to the person.

But first, let’s define glucose in terms of what it means for your body and health.

How Glucose Affects Your Health


Blood glucose, which you may know as blood sugar, is what your body breaks carbohydrates down to. Glucose that is in your bloodstream is then transported throughout your body and absorbed by cells that convert it into energy.

Anything extra is taken to your muscles, liver or fat cells and stored away for later use.

“Glucose, especially for your brain, is the fuel that your body most readily uses,” explains Dr. Mahmood Kazemi, chief medical officer for Abbott’s diabetes care business.
You may be familiar with “hyperglycemia,” or high blood sugar. If your blood glucose levels exhibit a constant pattern of being too high, you may be at risk of developing prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

Apart from that, however, it’s important to recognize that everyone’s glucose levels are changing over time throughout the day, fluctuating from being steady, high and low. Because of that, it’s especially helpful to recognize patterns – if you realize that you constantly have low energy and focus after an activity you do daily or a certain meal you eat, it’s possible that your body is going through glucose spikes and crashes.

With the help of continuous glucose monitoring, you can visually see your glucose levels and watch patterns over time1. If they’re constantly high, or if you feel like you're always riding a glucose roller coaster of spikes and dips, you can make lifestyle adjustments to potentially improve your metabolic health.

Can Monitoring Your Glucose Levels Change Your Health?


The answer is yes, according to Pam Bede, MS, RD, nutritionist with Lingo, Abbott’s first consumer glucose-monitoring biowearable that launched in the U.K. earlier this year and was recently cleared by the U.S. FDA.

“Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all, at some point or another, experienced a rise or dip in our glucose. That mid-afternoon slump. That fatigue. Poor mood. Poor sleep. Poor energy. Excessive hunger cravings.

“When we take a continuous look behind the scenes, we see that glucose is a major factor in those kinds of experiences. If we then start thinking through what we are eating, our exercise habits, our handling of stressful situations, and connect how our body responds to these lifestyle factors, we can implement changes, working towards flattening that glucose curve or reducing some of those spikes and valleys.

“Then we can get to a better place – that overall holistic health that we’re all looking for and makes us feel like the best version of ourselves.”

Taking the step to track your glucose levels over time with the help of continuous glucose monitoring can help you unlock a deeper understanding of what’s happening under your skin as you go through your daily routine.

You could learn that your usual lunch of a chicken salad sandwich makes your glucose levels spike – and then fall quickly, resulting in that afternoon slump. Or maybe taking a walk after eating a bowl of oats helps you stabilize your glucose levels so you feel more energized.

Certainly, glucose spikes and dips are normal and do happen in people who don’t have diabetes. But gradually working toward a more steady glucose, with a fewer number of spikes and smaller-sized spikes, could help improve your overall health and wellbeing.

According to a 2021 study, people who used continuous glucose monitoring to analyze and act on their glucose levels saw improved glucose level control in just over one week. Better glucose level control can lead to improved protection against insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, inflammation and cardiovascular problems like heart disease.1, 2, 3

“Your glucose levels are unique to you, and they vary considerably throughout the day,” Bede says.

“The ebb and flow impact how you’re feeling and your overall wellbeing. CGMs provide a window into this variability, providing real-time data and insights so you can connect inputs with outputs. Linking lifestyle habits with how you’re feeling so you know changes to make that work for you. For your health and your unique goals.”

Improving your understanding of your glucose level patterns as you go through day-to-day activities gives you a point of reference. Glucose level tracking, which can be done with the help of consumer biowearables, can help you discover what healthy habits truly work in your lifestyle since you can connect your body's insights to what you do.1

Sometimes, we take our health for granted – and monitoring your glucose levels can be your key to a better health journey. With the help of biowearables, you can adjust your habits to live your best life.

For more training and nutrition tips from leading experts, as well as inspiring stories of runners who have benefited from Abbott technologies, visit Abbott’s new marathon hub.

References


1. Jarvis, P.R.E, Cardin, J.L., Nisevich-Bede, P.M., & McCarter, J.P. (2023). Continuous glucose monitoring in a healthy population: understanding the post-prandial glycemic response in individuals without diabetes mellitus. Metabolism, 146(1). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2023.155640

2. Tsujimoto, T., Kajio, H., & Sugiyama, T. (2017). Association between hyperinsulinemia and increased risk of cancer death in nonobese and obese people: A population-based observational study. International Journal of Cancer, 141(1), 102-111. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.30729

3. Zahedani, A.D., Torbaghan, S.S., Rahili, S., Karlin, K., Scilley, D., Thakkar, R., Saberi, M., Hashemi, N., Perelman, D., Aghaeepour, N., McLaughlin, T., & Snyder, M.P. (2021). Improvement in glucose regulation using a digital tracker and continuous glucose monitoring in healthy adults and those with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Therapy, 12(7), 1871-1886. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13300-021-01081-3

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