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Concern About Blood Sugar Levels: ‘Just Another Biohacking Wellness Trend’

Concern about blood sugar levels is sweeping social media, with many influencers peddling supplements and monitors to help people track their levels — but experts say most people shouldn’t be worried.

If you spend any time on social media, it may seem as though so-called “wellness influencers” are always coming up with new ideas about how to optimize your health — and selling new products to help you do so.

The latest trend is an obsession with blood sugar levels, or blood glucose levels, which refers to how much glucose you have in your blood.

Online, many content creators are fixated on how to reduce glucose spikes — which naturally occur after eating carbohydrates — often by taking (and selling) supplements and using continuous glucose monitors intended for those with diabetes. However, experts say the fixation is unnecessary and even potentially harmful to the average healthy person.

“This is just another biohacking wellness trend that is encouraging consumerism for no good reason,” says Emily Van Eck, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. “Most people definitely do not need to spend much time thinking about their blood sugar.”

Emily Van Eck
Emily Van Eck

This is because most people's bodies are perfectly capable of regulating their blood sugar levels without any concern, Van Eck says.

Indeed, the body naturally produces a hormone called insulin that works to reduce glucose levels in the blood and transport it to the cells so it can be used for energy.

“Our pancreas, liver, and the rest of our organs and tissues are super smart and they really have this under control,” Van Eck tells Healthnewss. “Thank goodness!”

The harms of obsessing over blood sugar levels

Not only is obsessing over blood sugar levels unnecessary, according to Van Eck — it can actually be harmful. Overly focusing on metrics like blood sugar can cause lots of anxiety and disordered eating, she says, especially for people who are prone to worry about their health, body, and eating habits.

Sarah Hormachea, MS, RD, BC-ADM, CDCES, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes care and education specialist, agrees. Hormachea says fixating on these levels may do more harm than good by creating an unhealthy fear of carbohydrates and post-meal spikes.

Most experts agree that a 30-50 point rise after a carbohydrate-based meal is normal, she says, but focusing on these metrics can lead to stress that there’s a health issue when there isn’t one. Stress itself is bad for the body, leading to a number of health issues, including glucose spikes themselves.

Sarah Hormachea
Sarah Hormachea

Not to mention that purchasing expensive supplements and glucose monitors when you do not need them can be financially harmful.

Plus, using a continuous glucose monitor or taking blood sugar-controlling substances has not been shown to be safe or effective for people without diabetes.

“Given the potential harm and the reality there is no health benefit, I would not recommend this to anyone who does not have diabetes,” Van Eck says.

Should you be concerned about blood sugar levels?

There are those who need to be aware of their glucose levels, including individuals with blood sugar conditions such as diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, which can lead to high blood sugar, so these individuals must monitor their glucose levels and take insulin to regulate them. In those with type 2, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t properly convert it to energy — called insulin resistance — and this also leads to high blood sugar. This also requires monitoring of blood sugar levels and insulin injections to regulate them.

While not all individuals with PCOS have blood sugar abnormalities, some have insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, or type 2 diabetes. These individuals must also keep an eye on their blood sugar levels.

“Some people who are prone to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, do actually need to be careful since low blood sugar is much more immediately dangerous than high blood sugar,” Van Eck says. “You can lose consciousness if your blood sugar gets too low.”

But for the rest of the population, it’s best not to worry, she says. High blood sugar is only a problem if it occurs repeatedly over a period of time, and if you go to the doctor once or twice a year, Van Eck says they will catch this.

Lifestyle habits are enough

While Van Eck can understand that information about blood sugar levels might seem interesting to some who have a healthy relationship with food, their body size, and their health without causing unnecessary anxiety, she doesn’t believe this information is necessary to optimize our health.

“That said, it's not a bad idea to be generally aware of your blood sugar, but I think a much better way to think about this is that if you're hungry, your blood sugar is going to be low,” she explains, “so you should eat.”

Instead of worrying about specific levels, you can pay attention to the fact that signs of low blood sugar include difficulty concentrating, increased thoughts about food, and irritability — all of which are also signs of hunger.

The best way to regulate your blood sugar levels, she says, is to make sure you're eating a balanced, nutritious diet for the most part. This includes eating fruits and vegetables daily, eating whole grains and beans, and getting enough protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

“You want to avoid going super long periods of time without food and consider getting help from a professional if you're binge eating, restricting your food too much, or are very anxious about food,” she says.

Though many supplements are effective at managing blood sugar spikes and improving insulin sensitivity, she says people without blood sugar problems do not need to take these expensive supplements.

Instead, she recommends adding half a cup of blueberries sprinkled with cinnamon and pumpkin seeds to your daily routine, as research has shown that these three foods can effectively lower blood sugar.

“Understanding the connection between blood sugar levels and our mood, energy, and food cravings can encourage healthier eating habits,” Hormachea adds. “Opting for a high-fiber breakfast that keeps sugars low and stable can ensure consistent energy throughout the morning, as opposed to a sugary pop tart that often causes a sharp spike followed by a sugar crash.”

On the other hand, a sugary sports drink that leads to a quick rise in glucose might be beneficial before a strenuous workout in hot and humid weather, she says.

Other important lifestyle factors for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels include regular daily physical activity, structured exercise sessions lasting 30 minutes or more, maintaining a healthy body fat percentage, consuming predominantly plant-based foods rich in protein and fiber, and ensuring sufficient sleep and relaxation.

“When it comes to promoting good metabolic health, prioritize healthy and sustainable habits,” Hormachea says. “No need to purchase expensive and unnecessary glucose monitors to guide your habits.”

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