Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is essential for overall well-being and longevity. While the fasting glucose test is the most common tool used to assess metabolic health, it only measures blood sugar levels when uninfluenced by recent meals. However, postprandial glucose levels, which are measured after eating a meal, can provide a more comprehensive understanding of one's metabolic health. This is because postprandial glucose offers a dynamic and detailed picture of glucose response to food, which can help individuals make informed choices about their diet and lifestyle. In this blog post, we'll delve deeper into what postprandial glucose is, why it's important to monitor it, and the tools that can be used to assess it.
What is Postprandial Glucose?
Postprandial glucose refers to the glucose in the bloodstream after eating a meal. When we consume carbohydrates from food, they break down into simple sugars such as glucose and fructose, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. Glucose is the primary fuel source for the body, and every cell relies on it for energy production. The body aims to maintain a consistent level of glucose in the blood, and after a meal, postprandial glucose levels rise as the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. The pancreas then releases insulin to help cells absorb the glucose and use it for energy. Postprandial glucose levels typically peak within an hour or two after a meal and then gradually decrease as insulin removes glucose from the bloodstream. However, high and prolonged postprandial glucose levels can indicate insulin resistance, which is the root of metabolic dysfunction.
Measuring postprandial blood sugar levels can provide insights into the glucose and insulin relationship in the body. While insulin is the hormone that helps cells take in glucose from the bloodstream, frequent spikes or prolonged high levels of glucose after a meal may indicate that the body has become less efficient at removing glucose from the blood. This can lead to insulin resistance, which is a precursor to prediabetes and diabetes.
Why is Postprandial Glucose Important?
According to recent research, poor control of postprandial glucose levels can trigger a domino effect in the onset of metabolic syndrome. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance and exhaustion of insulin-producing beta cells, which are characteristic features of Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is commonly characterized by a value known as hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which measures the percentage of hemoglobin molecules bound to sugar. The higher the sugar levels in the blood, the higher the HbA1c value will be.
A study found that poor control of postprandial glucose levels correlates with worsening metabolic function, which can be an important indicator for people at risk of diabetes and those hoping to reverse Type 2 diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes. Participants in the study used continuous glucose monitors to measure their blood sugar levels over three days while eating a prescribed diet. The study found that as HbA1c levels climbed above 6.5%, elevated postprandial glucose levels were observed, even if fasting glucose remained normal or near-normal. In groups with higher HbA1c levels, blood glucose levels remained high postprandially and during fasting windows, including overnight. Monitoring postprandial glucose levels can provide valuable insight into whether insulin sensitivity is improving or if insulin resistance is progressing, making it an essential tool for managing blood sugar levels.
Postprandial Values You Should Look For
When it comes to optimal glucose levels, there are no definitive numbers that apply to everyone. This is a question that is individual-specific and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. That being said, research has shown that there is an increased risk of health problems as fasting glucose levels increase, even if they stay within the "normal" range. So finding your optimal glucose levels is important for your health.
While the International Diabetes Federation recommends that post-meal glucose levels should be less than 140 mg/dL in a non-diabetic individual, this does not necessarily represent the optimal glucose levels for your health. While this number may represent a proposed upper limit of what's "normal," many people may do better at lower post-meal glucose levels. Similarly, while the American Diabetes Association states that a fasting glucose less than 100 mg/dL is normal, it does not indicate what value is optimal for health.
Repeated high glucose spikes after meals contribute to inflammation, blood vessel damage, increased risk of diabetes, and weight gain. We recommend trying not to exceed an increase of more than 30 mg/dL from the pre-meal glucose levels. This will ensure that glycemic variability, which is a measure of how "spikey" your glucose is, is fairly low. It's important to consult with your doctor before setting any glucose targets or changing dietary and lifestyle habits.
Using a CGM to Assess Your Individual Response to Food
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a highly useful tool for assessing postprandial glucose levels and understanding how your body responds to different foods. The use of CGM systems provides valuable insights into how your body processes glucose and helps you makehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8915088/.
It's important to note that CGM devices are not just useful for people with diabetes. Even individuals without diabetes can benefit from the use of CGMs to monitor their postprandial glucose levels and improve their overall health. Research shows that repeated high glucose spikes after meals contribute to inflammation, blood vessel damage, increased risk of diabetes, and weight gain. Therefore, by using CGM devices, individuals can optimize their postprandial glucose levels to improve their health and reduce their risk of developing diabetes and other related health conditions.
Continuous glucose monitoring can provide valuable insights into how our bodies respond to different foods and lifestyle factors, allowing us to make informed decisions to improve our health and prevent chronic diseases. Another great way to learn more about your blood sugar is to combine CGMs with health apps like kahla, which provide personalized recommendations based on your data.
Pairing a CGM with The kahla App for Meal Scores Based on Postprandial Formula
The kahla app uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate meal scores based on a postprandial formula that takes into account your pre-meal baseline glucose level, the glycemic variability (how much your glucose spiked after the meal), the peak of the spike and how long it takes for your glucose to return to baseline. With kahla, you can easily log your meals and receive feedback on your postprandial glucose levels. By analyzing the data, the app provides a score that indicates how well the meal is likely to be tolerated by your body.
kahla also offers personalized recommendations based on your unique data. By providing real-time feedback and insights into how different foods and lifestyle factors affect your blood sugar, you can make informed decisions to optimize you diet and lifestyle for better health.
In conclusion, monitoring postprandial glucose levels can be a game-changer for those seeking to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and overall health. CGMs paired with the kahla app are a great tool for assessing individual responses to food and lifestyle factors. By incorporating these tools into your health routine, you can gain a deeper understanding of your body's unique needs, make informed decisions about what to eat, and achieve better blood sugar control to improve your overall health and longevity.