Hola Sober April 2024

We need to talk about blood glucose monitoring.....

to panic people into under fueling for the performance that is our everyday lives. Similarly, choosing the food that will give us the lowest spike isn’t always the healthier choice. For example, chips have a lower impact on blood sugars than a baked potato, and a glass of Coke Zero will have no impact at all while a glass of orange juice definitely will. I don’t think anyone would argue that chips and Coke are the healthier choices in either of those scenarios! And when having the baked potato and glass of OJ we can be sensible about what we pair them with to slow their absorption, but we don’t need a CGM or an expensive app to tell us how to do that. A quick chat with a nutritionist would do the job. But, that’s not to say they don’t have their uses. For some of my athletes they were very useful in helping them visualise how much more carbohydrate they needed to consume to maintain the high exercise intensities required. For the rest of us non-athletes, blood glucose spikes are a totally normal occurrence, but we do want them to come down again in a nicely controlled way as the hormone insulin kicks in. If the spikes are staying high for too long that could be an issue for pre-diabetes, but that’s a fairly specific circumstance. Certainly, as women age we tend to become a little more insulin resistant as our estrogen levels decline so we could perhaps consider using one at that life stage. However, in both of those cases my preferred way to look at blood glucose levels would be a simple finger prick blood test to look at something called HbA1C. That’s a way of looking at glucose within the blood cells, and it tells us what your glucose levels have been like as an average of the past 3 months. It’s a lot simpler and quicker than a CGM, and comes without the pitfalls of a disturbed relationship with food that often accompanies any kind of very close monitoring of food intake. It’s also a lot cheaper!! My overall thoughts on the CGM trend is that it’s unnecessary, and there is a lot of extremely unhelpful fear mongering in the way they’re being marketed. For the majority of my clients I would much rather they spend their money on good quality wholefoods, and extra virgin olive oil; that stuff ain’t cheap! If you are in any way concerned about your blood glucose levels, changing metabolism around the menopause, or overall nutrition please do feel free to reach out to me at Email: sophie@pelhamburn- nutrition.com.

One of the biggest trends set to hit the personalised nutrition space in 2024 is continuous blood glucose monitoring or CGM for short. CGM monitors are small disks that are usually placed on the back of the arm and have a flexible microfilament that extends into the skin. That is then able to measure blood glucose levels (or rather it measures glucose levels in the fluid that surrounds each cell not the actual blood as it doesn’t go that deep, but the two measures correlate quite well) continuously and relay that information to an app on your phone. This technology has revolutionised diabetes management by providing real-time insights into blood glucose levels, however, CGM is now gaining traction among people without diabetes who are interested in optimising their health and well-being. So is it worth doing? My answer, as always, is that it depends! But despite the very heavy marketing from celebrities like Davina McCall, Steven Bartlett, and the health professor behind it all, Tim Spector, for most people I’d say no, absolutely not. Let’s have a look at why. Firstly, our blood glucose levels are meant to fluctuate throughout the day and they do so in response to about 100 different influencing factors, only one of which is what we’ve eaten. If you’ve slept poorly your blood glucose levels are likely to be slightly higher the next day, if you’re exercising they’ll rise again regardless of whether you’ve eaten anything or not, and one of the biggest things to affect blood glucose levels is stress. When I was working with the French national ski teams I looked after a lot of athletes who trained on roller skis (a lot like rollerblading) during the summer months. Sometimes they had to train on the roads which could be quite stressful in heavy traffic. Stress has such a huge impact that I could always tell how bad the traffic was just from looking at their blood glucose data! As well as the fact there are so many different influences on blood glucose, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have a glucose spike after a meal or snack. Even if that meal contains only protein, we’ll still have a spike. Oftentimes, when athletes have wanted to use CGM I’m alerted to underfuelling by the absence of a spike. But it’s not just elite athletes who need to fuel for the day ahead, we all do, so to start demonising a perfectly normal and healthy rise in blood glucose after eating is a surefire way

Website: Pelham Burn Nutrition


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