Whenever we eat, our body with the help of various enzymes begins to break the food down to convert it into glucose. The pancreas, which produces insulin, manages and regulates the glucose levels in our body.
Glucose Variability (GV)
These glucose levels do not remain the same all day they vary with time, and this variation offers important insights into our body. Some rises and falls in glucose levels can also be shaped by exercise, stress and sleep amongst other factors.
It’s the degree of these fluctuations that makes a difference. A reliable metric that helps to identify these internal oscillations in blood glucose levels is known as Glucose Variability (GV).
- Glucose variability is a predictor of oxidative stress in your body. Keeping your GV under 12% is considered ideal,
- Oxidative stress can lead to cellular damage in the body and cause neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, hypertension and more,
- A diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, olive oil and other foods rich in antioxidants can help reduce both GV and oxidative stress in the body.
How To Measure Glucose Variability?
GV can be measured in terms of glucose values over time. The most widely used method to calculate variability is Standard Deviation (SD). It is an indicator of the spread in glucose readings around the average.
For example, if someone has been bouncing back and forth between many highs and/or many lows on a given day, they will have a larger SD. On the other hand, if someone is having a relatively stable day, they will have a lower SD.
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Experiencing a glycemic excursion means having episodes of either hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
GV, in essence, becomes an information stream covering the daily fluctuations in blood sugar levels and tells us how often an individual’s glucose levels are significantly above or below the target/ideal range.
What are the Healthy Levels for Glucose Variability?
Glucose variability is a predictor of oxidative stress in your body. Keeping your GV under 12% is considered ideal.
What is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress occurs when there’s a surplus of “free radicals” in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have the potential to destroy cellular structures.
They’re unstable because they lack an electron. To regain that balance, they borrow an electron from the next molecule, causing that to become unstable, and so on.
Oxidative stress happens when free radicals become too numerous in comparison to antioxidants, which are molecules that are able to donate an electron to a free radical without themselves becoming unstable.
This in turn helps to stabilize the former. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants.
How is Glucose Variability Related to Oxidative Stress?
Extreme fluctuations in blood glucose levels—in essence, a heightened GV—can lead to oxidative stress in the body. These can be caused by a host of factors, including a poor diet, infections, tumours, and other conditions like diabetes or cancer.
Oxidative stress fastens aging, and long-term oxidative stress can cause neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and hypertension, among other ailments.
Monitoring glucose swings may provide actionable insights that would help prevent oxidative stress since both GV and oxidative stress can rise simultaneously, and checking the former will help regularize the latter.
How to Optimise Glycemic Control?
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, olive oil and other foods rich in antioxidants can help reduce both GV and oxidative stress in the body.
A study also suggests that restricting carbohydrates at breakfast can improve glycemic variability. Some studies have also claimed that non-exercise physical activities can enhance glycemic control.
Overall, however, adhering to a balanced routine, which includes exercise, a nutritious diet and ample sleep, monitoring your blood sugar levels often and keeping a written log of your glucose readings and the factors that influence them can help keep glucose levels in a healthy range.
Glucose variability is an important metric that provides actionable insights into your body by measuring the highs and lows in your blood glucose levels across time.
Oxidative stress can lead to cellular damage in the body and cause neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, hypertension, and more.
Keeping your blood glucose at optimum levels consistently by consuming foods such as fruits, nuts, etc. and a steady exercise routine may not only help maintain your glucose variability but also help in reducing oxidative stress.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
- Glycemic variability and oxidative stress: a link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease?
- Colette C, Monnier L. Acute glucose fluctuations and chronic sustained hyperglycemia as risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Satya Krishna SV, Kota SK, Modi KD. Glycemic variability: Clinical implications.