How to Find the Best (And Worst) Foods, Activities, and Sleep Habits for Sugar Control

by
Parsley Health
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Medically Reviewed
June 27, 2023

Brenda P. was struggling. After years of fatigue , chronic knee pain, unwanted weight gain in her mid-section, and vitiligo and IBS flares, she was already overwhelmed. When her gynecologist diagnosed her with prediabetes, she was at her limit.

Anxious, depressed, and concerned she wouldn’t be able to lose the weight she needed to reverse her prediabetes, 41-year-old Brenda came to Parsley Health. After testing to determine her thyroid health and nutrient status, her doctor prescribed her a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). With this device, Brenda was able to learn over time which were the best (and worst) foods, activities, and sleep habits for sugar control.

Along with the lifestyle modifications, multivitamin infusions (MVIs), and berberine supplementation recommended by her personalized care plan, the CGM was key to Brenda’s recovery: within six months, she had lost 15 pounds, had less pain, and was feeling stronger and more energized . Best of all, her insulin and glucose had both returned to optimal levels—meaning she had successfully reversed her prediabetes.

What is continuous glucose monitoring?

A CGM is a device that tracks and measures your glucose levels throughout the day and night. This tiny, easy-to-install-and-remove sensor is inserted under your skin and transmits glucose readings to your phone or other device. You can wear a CGM for 1-2 weeks at a time, including when you’re sleeping, showering, or exercising, and collect measurements every 5-15 minutes or so. Glucose levels from a CGM are often reported in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). CGMs can also require calibration with blood glucose levels, or to confirm specific readings.

As Brenda learned, the CGM is an incredible innovation. Unlike a traditional fingerstick, or blood glucose meter, which provides a single glucose reading at a time, CGMs provides glucose information every 5-15 minutes—or roughly an average of 144 readings in a day!

With this data, you can see the real-time impact of the food you eat and the movements you make on your blood glucose levels. You can know when your blood sugar is too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) almost as it happens.

Who uses continuous glucose monitoring?

Traditionally, CGM devices are used by people with diabetes who are treated with insulin or other medications that require monitoring, since these medications can cause acute changes in glucose levels. Patients may need to adjust their medication based on the glucose level collected at a specific time of day, and the use of a CGM in addition to the use of a blood glucose monitor (BGM) can provide valuable data for the patient and their doctor to help with these adjustments.

More recently, however, CGMs are now being used outside of the diabetic population because a lot of people experience glucose dysregulation that, over time, can lead to a variety of chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis, and cancer .

From people at risk of diabetes or who are diagnosed with prediabetes , like Brenda, to athletes looking to optimize performance, we’re seeing many different kinds of people using CGM technology to take control of their health.

What are the pros and cons of continuous glucose monitoring?

Pros:

  • Real-time data throughout the day, including trends before/during/after meals or exercise, as well as while you’re sleeping. This allows you to compare your levels to what your baseline blood sugar levels are.
  • Spikes in glucose levels can be harmful to the body. Combined with other tools, the CGM can help you understand trends in your glucose regulation, and help support and influence lifestyle and dietary habits that can be beneficial for better blood sugar management.
  • CGMs can also help patients with diabetes to manage their condition, and provide alerts when levels are either too high or too low to help with acute treatment decisions.

Cons:

  • One of the main limitations of the CGM is that it only measures glucose levels, not fructose or insulin levels, which are also very important considerations in glucose dysregulation. While the CGM is an important tool, it’s not the only one that should be used when assessing your glucose metabolism.
  • You’ll need further education to properly use a CGM and understand how it can guide lifestyle and nutrition interventions, since not all “spikes ” in glucose levels on a CGM have the same root cause. For example, as someone is analyzing their CGM data post-meals, the components and nutrients of the food that’s eaten must be taken into consideration in combination with the level and frequency of the spike/increase that happens after they eat.
  • CGMs can also require calibration with blood glucose levels, or to confirm specific readings.

Find out if continuous glucose monitoring is for you.

At Parsley Health, the continuous glucose monitor is one of the tools used by our medical providers to find the root cause of symptoms like hyperglycemia or high fasted levels of glucose or insulin. Even if they’re not concerned about an underlying condition, the CGM can be a helpful tool in optimizing health.

Parsley physician Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino has used a CGM herself, and was impressed by the insights it gave her. “It helped me understand how my body responded to certain meals and what my average baseline glucose level was when I was in a fasted state, as well as how certain things like stress, sleep, and exercise can influence my glucose levels. Viewing the trends on the app were very helpful, and it wasn’t inconvenient for me to wear the sensor for 2 weeks at a time.”

Ready to join Parsley Health? Schedule a free call  to learn more about Parsley’s root-cause approach to healing, how to use insurance  to pay for your Parsley medical fees, and how we can personalize your health journey.

by
Parsley Health
Author

Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.

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