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Monitoring Your Sugar Intake

I was going to write this month about detoxing and I think it is a very important topic. However, I think there is something that is probably just as important and easier for you to discuss with your doctor. That is – measuring your sugar. Not just pricking your finger but checking your glucose level whenever you want … especially after meals so you can see for yourself immediately the effect of the food you have just eaten on your glucose level.

I am talking about CGM (continuous glucose monitoring). If you think you have a good diet, if you think you are taking care of yourself, why not prove it to yourself and your health care provider by applying a monitor that can, for 2 weeks: check your blood sugar whenever you want; as often as you want; without having to prick your finger. I don’t think this is just for diabetics either although obviously this is very important for them to really understand the relationship between what they eat and their bodies response. This isn’t the same as checking your insulin level but it is very readily available and easy to understand. If you are diabetic or have metabolic syndrome or are overweight or just wonder about the interaction between the food you eat and your sugar it is finally easy to have this monitored. I am currently recommending this monitoring to every one of my diabetic patients. I also recommend the monitoring to anyone who is curious about their diet and its effects on their health. Do you really think that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are healthy? Check your sugar afterwards and see for yourself. Do you really think that ice cream is an innocent treat? See for yourself. If you really think those sodas are not harmful check your sugars after a can and actually measure your own bodies response.

There is a continuous glucose monitor called the Freestyle Libre which is inexpensive and often covered by insurance. You apply the sensor to your upper arm and use a monitor to be able to measure your glucose level anytime. The tiny needle in the sensor really is not painful and its much better than pricking your finger. The sensor is pretty durable and can handle showering, etc.

Now we have been talking for some time about the so-called closed-loop system where diabetics could have their sugar monitored by this device and then have insulin administered to keep their sugar levels normal. I think this is going to be a disaster. People will eat whatever they want knowing that this system will handle their sugars but it will result in them getting much more insulin and, as you know, I believe that excess insulin leads to heart disease, dementia, generalized inflammation, arthritis, increasing cancer risk, etc. So I do not think treating your elevated sugar with insulin is the best option. Of course here I am talking about type II diabetics type. Type I diabetics are dependent on insulin. They are much less common and this is not the article for them although obviously monitoring their sugars are very very important for them and this sensor will apply to them as well.

I have just ordered the system for myself because I am curious as to what really happens when I have my pork fried rice for lunch and whether my late night pretzel snacking is raising my sugars or not. Also I am curious as to how low my sugar will go during the long periods when I do not eat. What effect will sauna use have on my sugars? What effect will strenuous exercise have on my levels? All of these questions I will soon have an answer to … once I get past my insurance company. For me this is just intellectual curiosity but for you, if you are diabetic or prediabetic, it may affect how you eat, what you eat, the dosing of your medications, etc. If you are overweight and you wonder whether your current diet is really the best for you you can measure your sugar levels. You can have instantaneous reliable and reproducible answers. This is not magic. This is nothing particularly new. This device has been around for months now and every primary care doctor should be familiar with it and be recommending it. I never understand why more patients do not ask me for this device. It’s your health … you should be and can be in the driver’s seat in terms of monitoring your health and this is one more device to assist you. Go – partner with your health care provider to improve your health one measurement at a time!

Until next month … Get well … Stay well.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Desantis Orchestra at the Palace theater on Sunday December 8th and the Solstice at the Cathedral December 5th, 6th, and 7th at St. Paul’s downtown. If you like seasonal live local music in great settings both of these shows are for you. -See you there!

(ed. Readers can listen to Dr. Joe Barry’s radio show “Your Health Matters” airing Sunday afternoons at 12:00pm on WSYR 570)

Dr. Barry