How Many Times per Day Should I Monitor Glucose Levels?

May 16, 2011 by

If you are diabetic, one of your main concerns is probably keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible since you may be aware that uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems in the long run. And the best way to keep those levels under control is to know what is causing them to go out of whack.

So, how do you prevent your blood glucose levels to be erratic? By testing your glucose levels during the day. The question however is how many times per day you do need to monitor them. To be in a better position to answer this question, let’s see first how fast some foods such as carbohydrates are digested.


The digestion of carbohydrates

The digestion of carbohydrates from foods begins in the mouth. As a result, glucose levels can go up quite fast after eating. If you measure your blood glucose within fifteen minutes of eating you can see an increase in blood sugar levels of around 36 mg/dl.

Levels continue to rise and in general they reach a peak in about thirty to forty-five minutes although this will vary depending on the time, quantity and composition of your meal. After two hours, the blood glucose has returned to the level you had before you started eating.

In people with diabetes, the peak level takes longer, about one hour after the start of the meal, and the return to the level you had before you started your meal can take much longer.  Some forms of carbohydrate such as lentils, beans, or garbanzo beans, are digested quite slowly and can take over four or five hours to be completely absorbed.

That is why this type of food make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. In fact, all legumes have this effect of slowing and prolonging the absorption by our digestive tract. Because the rate of absorption is so slow, blood glucose levels don’t go up too high in the hours following your meal.


To control your blood glucose you must monitor

Checking your blood glucose levels is very important because it is the key to successful management care. By testing your blood sugar level, you get to know exactly what your level is at that particular time so you can adjust your food, medication, or activity level.

Research has shown that the higher blood glucose is over time, the greater the possibility of serious complications that affect many body organs. A national study, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, has shown that controlling blood glucose levels, can prevent, reduce, or even reverse some of the long term complications and problems associated with diabetes.

 It was this study that showed that by maintaining your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible, you may reduce the risk of complications involving your eyes, kidneys, and nervous system by up to 60 percent.


How often do I need to monitor my glucose levels?

Another study published in the British Journal of Medicine showed that testing yourself frequently was determinant in lowering blood glucose levels more than medication, diet, or exercise. It showed that the more people tested their blood glucose levels, the better their blood glucose control was. And further research has shown that the better the glucose control, the lower the risk of long term complications of diabetes.

So, to keep an eye on your blood glucose levels it is advisable to check them several times a day. How much testing you want to do is your decision, but remember that checking your blood sugar levels often enough will give you a good idea of what is causing your blood glucose level to go up or down.

So, to your question of how many times you need to monitor, the answer is: As many times as possible. And the best times are:

  •  First thing in the morning before you had anything to eat or drink
  • Two hours after you start eating breakfast
  • Prior to start your meal
  • Two hours after your meal to see the effect of food in your glucose levels
  • Before going to bed


Final words

By using your meter to check your blood glucose several times a day, you begin collecting valuable information and you will get a good idea how your treatment is working for you. For example, checking your blood sugar levels a couple of hours after a meal will tell you that certain foods may raise those levels too high which will allow you to make changes in the choices of foods in your menus.

And always keep in mind that the more under control you keep your blood sugar levels, the more you will be able to prevent diabetes complications.

Now you can log in into the new Discussion Group Site for the Diabetes Club and live your questions and answers

To your good health!

Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.


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