The FORA 6 Connect is the newest glucose meter from ForaCare, and it's the best meter the company has put out to date. This is among the few meters on the market that test for both blood glucose levels and ketone levels.
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The best blood glucose meter (sometimes referred to as glucometers) could do wonders for your health. If you're dealing with diabetes, these devices can be vital tool to manage your health on a day-to-day basis.
By monitoring your blood sugar levels, blood glucose meters can help you be more aware of high or low levels and take an active role in monitoring your health.
The best glucose meters for use at home are determined by a variety of factors, such as accuracy, data management and storage, glucose test strips and on-going cost.
In this guide, we clarify exactly what the very best glucometers are and then break them down into specific positives so you can work out which offers what you need, personally. There's a lot to consider, from super portability and ease of sampling to high-speed accuracy and app support.
This guide mainly looks at traditional lancing sample blood glucose monitors but there are a few varied options with one that requires no invasive blood sample at all. Of course each type has its positives and negatives. However; this advice is not a replacement for consulting your doctor, who will be able to give you more detailed guidance around normal and high blood sugar levels.
Read on to find the best blood glucose meter for you.
1. Dario LC Blood Glucose Management System: Best overall glucometer
Best overall blood glucose meter system
Memory: Unlimited | Results: Under six seconds | Sample size: 0.3 microliters | Battery: N/A
The Dario LC Blood Glucose Management System might have a large name but the unit itself manages to cram a lot into a compact package. As such you get a blood glucose meter, lance device and strip holder all in one pocket-friendly device. As if that wasn't innovative enough the Dario LC also comes with a superb smartphone app and Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync and analyze your readings, trends and make notes for a clearer picture. It also means sharing with a doctor is super easy.
The addition of a smart alert, sent to a nominated phone number, when you go hypo, is a great touch as it even includes you GPS location so you're safe if the worst happens.
Strips are affordable, very little blood is required and the result is super accurate. If the strips were on insurance this would be the perfect device.
- Read the review: Dario LC Blood Glucose Management System
2. Fora 6 Connect: Best for insulin dependent diabetics
Best for ketone and glucose testing
Memory: 1,000 results | Results: Five seconds | Sample size: 0.5 microliters | Battery: AAA
The Fora 6 Connect is a very rare breed of meter that is capable of both blood glucose readings as well as ketone levels. This is done with two separate types of strip, each gold based and super accurate. Using the port light and eject button, readings are very easy to take and the data is clearly shown on the backlit display. This is automatically backed up, via Bluetooth, to the smartphone app which shows averages and more in clear colors charts and graphs, which can be easily shared. So, in short, this does it all and with a free carry case thrown in for good measure.
- Read the full review: Fora 6 Connect
3. Ascensia Contour Next One: Best for smart features
Best for smart features
Memory: 800 | Results: Five seconds | Sample size: 0.6 microliters | Battery: CR2032
The Ascensia Contour Next One is a very smart meter that connects to an extremely capable app. The result is a meter that looks sleek, is small and pocket-friendly but offers a display and button controls for instant data. The port light is useful and the multi-colored light shows result status quickly even without needing to look at the exact number.
The Bluetooth connected app lets you see trends and averages over up to 90 days all with notes made along the way, like diet, exercise and medication. This all means you can not only see patterns but the causes of those patterns, allowing you to better manage your blood glucose in the future. Smart alerts can also be set to help check levels at times you see as important. Plus you can easily share data from the app and, soon, with Glooko too.
The fact that strips allow you a second chance, if not full enough initially, is a great touch which can save you on strips to make sure you get a good result every time.
- Read the review: Ascensia Contour Next One
4. Accu-Chek Guide: Best for sampling ease
Best for strip management
Memory: 720 | Results: Four seconds | Sample size: 0.6 microliters | Battery: Two CR2032
The Accu-Chek Guide is a smart glucometer from a company that prides itself on accuracy. As such results from this meter are super accurate with a sample size of 0.6 microliters. It's the strips that really make this stand out as they are kept in a non-spill container that can be tipped upside down and still be held in place. When removed, the strip is easy to use with bright yellow sides and a clear blood icon to show where to deposit. All this combined with the meter's port light and eject button make sampling super simple and effective.
The meter is Bluetooth connected to a smartphone app called mySugr so you can analyze trends and make improvements as well as share data like CSV reports with doctors. The app also allows for blood sugar reminders, photo uploads and smart searches when you pay for the Pro version.
- Read the review: Accu-Chek Guide
5. CareTouch Blood Glucose Monitoring System: Best for affordable simplicity
Best for affordable simplicity
Memory: 300 | Results: Five seconds | Sample size: 0.6 microliters | Battery: CR2032
The CareTouch Blood Glucose Monitoring System is an affordable way to keep track of your levels quickly and simply. That low price and simplicity mean this is ideal for anyone new to blood glucose monitoring or for those that don't like too much data. Yup, there's no app support here, although you do get a 14 day average on the monitor to help give you an overview of your progress. You can sync to a PC if you want more analysis too, and you'll need to for long-term storage as the meter only holds 300 results.
Test results are quick in under five seconds and the sample size is relatively low at 0.5 microliters. The eject button, no coding and great accuracy all make monitoring super simple and easy. The lack of app and port light is a shame but for the price it's hard to complain.
- Read the review: CareTouch Blood Glucose Monitoring System
6. Abbott FreeStyle Libre: Best for pain-free non-invasive
Best for pain-free non-invasive
Memory: Unlimited | Results: Instant | Sample size: None needed | Battery: 14 days
The Abbott FreeStyle Libre is a non-invasive and pain-free way to get you blood glucose levels. Using a patch that sticks to your arm for two weeks at a time you can monitor you glucose using an app on your smartphone. With an add-on you can even have constant monitoring with alerts if you're heading for a high or a low, making this a very rare full CGM offering.
Accuracy is high but this isn't approved for driving, so you'll still need your fingerstick model as a back-up if you want to know you're driving legally. That said, the app is so informative you should be able to know your levels before they happen with a genuine chance to lower your A1C using this monitor. With the possibility of a prescription Freestlye Libre, this could end up saving you lots of money as well as pain.
- Read the review: Abbott FreeStyle Libre
7. True Metrix blood glucose meter: Best for quick testing speed
Best for quick testing speed
Memory: 500 | Results: Four seconds | Sample size: 0.5 microliters | Battery: CR2032
The True Metrix blood glucose meter is a very simple and minimally designed device which, as a result, offers some of the fastest testing times you can hope for. The unit itself is able to return a result in under four seconds. With a small 0.5 microlitre sample even lancing is quick and easy with this meter. The triple sense strips ensure, despite speed, you get excellent accuracy with your results.
Since this is all about efficiency there are very few extras meaning no app support, you'll need to output to a PC via USB for deeper analysis and data sharing. But you can log notes with your readings thanks to clear icons on the display that let you tag a reading with things like Before/ After Meal, Exercise, Sick, Medication and Other.
- Read the review: True Metrix
8. Prodigy Voice: Best for talking results
Best for talking results
Memory: 450 | Results: Seven seconds | Sample size: 0.7 microliters | Battery: AAA
The Prodigy Voice, as the name suggests, is all about speaking, as this meter will read out your blood glucose results to you. That makes this ideal for those with vision issues or anyone with dyslexia. While there is still a screen with large fonts, it is the speaking that makes this unique. The addition of a button to repeat the last thing said is a really nice feature to leave the user always feeling in control.
The buttons are raised with indentations so they can be felt without the need to see them. There are dedicated volume controls and a headphone port in case you want to use the device discreetly. Average readings can be read out on the device while linking to a PC is also an option for data transfer - ideal for those that want to print and share with their doctor.
- Read the full review: Prodigy Voice
9. OneTouch Verio Flex: Best for battery life
Best for battery life
Memory: 500 | Results: Five seconds | Sample size: 0.4 microliters | Battery: CR2032
The OneTouch Verio Flex is an excellent system that uses a three color-coded display for quick at-a-glance results. While the unit itself doesn't offer a light or averages on screen it is backed by an app. As a a result the battery life is kept as long as possible on the unit even with Bluetooth data sync to the OneTouch Reveal app.
The iPhone and Android friendly app lets you see patterns and averages, track events and view in a calendar form so you can see everything clearly. Sharing is then super simple and you can set insulin reminders if you need.
Sampling requires very little blood and accuracy is excellent making this very portable unit appealing, although sample strips are not cheap. That said the strips are covered by most insurance companies.
- Read the review: OneTouch Verio Flex
The FORA 6 Connect is the newest glucose meter from ForaCare, and it's the best meter the company has put out to date. This is among the few meters on the market that test for both blood glucose levels and ketone levels.
Why trust our glucose meter reviews?
Top Ten Reviews has been reviewing the best glucometers in the USA for more than six years. We know firsthand the important role the best blood glucose meters play in helping diabetics better manage their diets and keep their glucose levels from getting out of control.
A bad glucometer can profoundly affect your life, which is why we emphasize the need to talk to your doctor about what type of glucometer is best for you. Don't just take our word for it.
Before a blood glucose meter reaches the market, it must receive FDA approval. The process involves manufacturers submitting reports to the FDA showing the glucometer's accuracy is within 15 percent of lab-tested glucose levels in 95 percent of the readings, and within 20 percent in 99 percent of the readings. Unfortunately, just because a glucometer receives FDA approval doesn’t mean your readings are also as accurate. In fact, independent tests performed by the Diabetes Technology Society suggests many glucometers failed to reach FDA standards even after receiving approval.
With this in mind, we developed a simple range-based test based on the FDA requirements to evaluate the comparative accuracy of the glucometers we reviewed to find the best options for you.
How we found the best blood glucose meters
Testing glucometers for accuracy is not without difficulty, and shouldn't be viewed without skepticism. At best, you should view the grades as an anecdotal evaluation of performance. But the logic behind the test is simple - if the meters meet FDA requirements, each should produce similar readings on the same blood sample. If a glucometer’s reading in a round, falls beyond the 15 percent range determined by the average, we flagged it as being more likely to fail FDA requirements.
What the accuracy grade isn’t
The grades aren’t representative of the meter’s true accuracy. Such conclusive tests can only be done by sending blood samples to a lab. In addition, our test is small and consists of just one person’s (non-diabetic) blood sample. As such, the tests also aren’t a reflection of how accurate the meters are when blood glucose levels are abnormal.
After making sure every glucometer was calibrated according to its instruction manual, we started each round of tests by washing our hands. This is important because dirt and other contaminants can cause a reading to be inaccurate. Once our hands were dry (also important because water can dilute the blood sample and produce an inaccurate reading), we used the deepest setting on a lancet to puncture one of our fingers and create a drop of blood from which we could test all 11 meters.
Usually, when you touch the end of a test strip to a drop of blood, the strip drinks up the necessary amount like a paper towel soaking up water, but sometimes it doesn't because the strip is faulty. In some cases, the strip seems to drink it up, but the meter produces an error message that there wasn't enough blood. We made a note of these failed strips, then tested the meter with another one. Some strips are more prone to failure than others.
In each round of tests, we averaged all 11 results. we then calculated an acceptable range of accuracy with the maximum set at 15 percent above that average and the minimum at 15 percent below it, similar to the FDA requirements. For example, if one round of tests produced an average reading of 108 mg/dL, then the acceptable range for accuracy would be 92 to 124 mg/dL.
After 30 rounds of these tests, we consulted with a medical expert in the diabetes industry (who declined to be named for this article) about our testing methodology. At this point in the testing, seven of the 11 glucometers had already produced inaccurate readings more than five times, but to meet FDA regulations, they couldn't have more than five failed readings out of a 100. The expert suggested that we may be introducing too much lymphatic fluid into the blood sample when we squeezed my finger to get the blood sample, which would throw off the accuracy.
He recommended that we test each glucometer on drops of blood produced without squeezing the prick site. In other words, we'd have to prick my finger 11 times for each round instead of once. He suggested that we'd get more consistently accurate results this way. So, we continued with this more painful methodology for the remainder of the tests. However, the results were no different than when we tested each meter on the same blood sample. The readings weren't more closely grouped and each round had between one and three readings that fell outside the acceptable range.
After all the tests, we graded accuracy, noting whether each meter tended to read high or low, though some had no distinguishable pattern and were all over the place. It's important to make it clear that this was a small-scale test and not an absolute indication of accuracy. And it's perfectly reasonable to think that our methodology has issues. In fact, we hope that's the case because it would explain the worrying lack of consistent readings. In other words, trust what your doctor says.
Data management and connectivity
We asked Angelica Khachaturova, an EVP with GlucoMe (which currently has a glucometer in the final stages of the FDA-approval process), what she sees as the most common mistake people make when choosing a glucometer. She said they often don’t pay enough attention to data management systems and the way glucometers connect to those systems.
Since diabetes is a chronic disease without a cure, people need a good data management system that provides them and their doctor with the relevant information to best treat the disease and minimize long-term health effects. She explained that "today's glucose monitor manufacturers are developing different features to solve the connectivity issue. So, it is highly recommended to check how the monitor transfers the data and its usability for this particular patient."
Using an app also makes it easy to add notes to readings from your phone just moments after testing your blood, which makes for more accurate records. You don’t need to worry about a cord or having to enter notes for readings directly into the glucometer, which isn’t easy to do and may discourage you from writing important things like "ate an apple" next to a reading. However, Bluetooth has connectivity challenges as well. Bluetooth-enabled glucose meters aren't always so easy to pair to your phone.
How much do glucometers cost?
Most glucometers cost between $20 and $50. Within this range, you can get an advanced and accurate meter with Bluetooth and a companion smartphone app with excellent data management features.
Insurance coverage varies a lot. The meters most likely to be covered by insurance providers also tend to be the most expensive, like the OneTouch Verio IQ that cost over $100. However, the performance and feature-value of these more expensive meters were not significantly different in our tests from the cheaper models.
How much do blood glucose test strips cost?
Two very important aspects of buying a glucometer are the cost and availability of the test strips. Test strips are the most expensive part of using a glucometer. Just because you chose a $20 over a $50 glucometer doesn't mean you picked the most affordable option. If the test strips of the cheaper meter cost $1.50 and the strips on the expensive meter cost $0.50, the long-term costs make the cheaper meter far more expensive. In addition, you have to consider availability. If you're not on top of how many strips you have and you run out, you have to run into a pharmacy to find strips. But if you choose a meter with test strips lacking in distribution, you won't find it. Some test strips have to be ordered online, which aren't ideal for emergencies.
To evaluate price and availability, we compiled a list of the most common online stores and five local pharmacies. We then noted whether the stores carried the test strips and for how much, including the prices if you purchased strips in boxes of 50 or 100. Some test strips were available everywhere, while others were only available in one or two online stores.
Since you can’t get cheap off-brand test strips, you have to consider the long-term costs and price fluctuations. When we reviewed glucometers in 2017, the lowest average cost for the cheapest test strip on the market was $0.12 per strip, while the most expensive test strip was $2.06 per strip. But in early 2018, the cheapest test strip averaged around $0.23 per test strip while the most expensive averaged $1.22 per strip. The difference in cost is extraordinary when applied to a year of using the meter, especially if you frequently test your glucose levels.
One explanation for the change in test strip costs is the fluctuating value of gold. Most test strips are made with a circuitry of gold, due to its superior conductivity, so as the value of gold moves, so do the manufacturing costs.
Another explanation is shown by Daniel Jennings in “Is Insurance Driving Up Healthcare Cost?” It's the ever-changing ways health insurers cover, or don't cover, glucose meters. One way to save yourself from fluctuating prices is to sign up for a test-strip subscription. These subscription-based programs are becoming more popular, allowing you to pay a flat fee for test strips each month.
Do glucometers expire?
Glucometers wear out over time and should be renewed every two years to ensure accurate and reliable results. If you are concerned that your glucometer isn't working well anymore then you can run tests with a control safety solution to see how accurate the results are.
Control Solutions are readily available and should be used when you think your glucose meter is not accurate. For improved accuracy make sure you use control solution if you think your glucometer may have been damaged, if results are unusually high or low or when opening a new pack of test strips. It also worth taking your glucometer with you when you visit your doctor for a blood sugar test. Take a reading with your monitor at the same time. If the results are within 15% of the lab results then you should consider your glucose meter accurate.
Can glucometers measure ketones?
Most ketone monitors can monitor blood sugar, but not all glucometers can monitor ketosis. As such, if you want to measure ketone, we recommend you buy a ketone monitor. The model we would highly recommend is the FORA 6 that measures both ketones and glucose in an easy to read display. It is also our pick for the best glucose meter overall.
What else you should consider when buying a glucometer?
Glucometers vary quite a lot with concern to features and cost, which means it can be easy to choose the wrong one. Kristen Scheney, a nutritionist for CCS Medical, recommends not using price as an indication of quality. She continues, "just because one glucometer is more expensive than another does not mean that it will be more accurate. Moreover, just because a device includes more features than another does not mean that it is the device for you. Sometimes simple is the best way to go to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need out of your glucometer."
Again, you should consult with your physician about what type of glucometer is best for helping you manage your diabetes. That said, here are some additional considerations:
Are blood glucose meters covered by insurance and Medicare?
You don’t need a prescription to purchase glucometers, test strips or lancets. These are all over-the-counter products. However, since the long-term costs can be high, many insurance plans cover the meters and the test strips. While co-pays and coverage may vary, you should contact your insurance provider and talk to your doctor about what brands are covered under your insurance plan.
The one downside to using insurance to offset some of the costs is your plan often dictates which brand you can use. This is one of the most common complaints among diabetics because too often the only glucometer brands approved by their insurance providers have very expensive test strips.
Medicare Part B covers some diabetic supplies, including test strips, with a 20-percent Medicare-approved co-pay. However, this only applies if your physician and pharmacy are enrolled with Medicare.
Have a backup glucometer
A backup glucometer allows you to double-check a strange reading you think may not be accurate. For example, if you have a very high reading but you feel fine, you can check your blood again with a second glucometer. If the reading is high on both, then you can act accordingly. But if the backup glucometer gives a normal reading, you know that your primary glucometer needs to be calibrated.
Backup glucometers also help in situations when you run out of test strips. For example, if your primary glucometer is made by FORA, you'll likely have to order test strips online. And if you don't order them with enough foresight, you could easily run out before the refills arrive. A backup glucometer can be used to fill the gap.
Every glucometer we tested came with its own lancet – a device with a spring-loaded needle that you use to prick your finger, palm or forearm. Unlike test strips, you don't have to use the lancet that comes with your glucose meter; you just need something that draws enough blood to test with the glucometer, so use whatever is easy and affordable. We used all 11 lancets that came with the devices and found no difference in pain, but some are easier to load and unload. (It's important to use a new lancet needle for each test.)
Gestational diabetes: why pregnant women should use glucometers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gestational diabetes occurs in up to 10 percent of pregnancies. While its exact cause is unknown, doctors believe hormones play a role, particularly hormones that increase insulin resistance. As such, having gestational diabetes doesn't mean you had Type 2 diabetes before you got pregnant or that you’ll have it after you give birth. However, you’re at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after your pregnancy if you don’t manage your gestational diabetes well. But even more troubling is that it can have a big impact on your baby’s development.
In "When Blood Sugar Rises in Pregnancy, Mom and Baby Pay the Price," Steven Reinberg, a reporter for HealthDay, argues the importance of staying on top of your blood glucose levels while pregnant. He points out that in addition to putting the mother at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy, prolonged high glucose levels put infants at risk of developing complications, both before and after birth.
In fact, studies have shown elevated glucose levels in developing infants can affect organ development and cause the body to handle food differently. As a result, these infants are at a higher risk of obesity as well as 11 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and 42 percent more likely to have pre-diabetes by their teenage years.
The good news is you can minimize the risk of complications and long-term health issues for both you and baby. First, buy a blood glucose meter and check your blood sugar levels before and after meals to gauge how your body responds to the food you eat. If your glucose levels are high, especially before you eat, you should consult with a doctor to get on a health management plan specifically for gestational diabetes.
Helping your child cope with Type 2 Diabetes
In an article published by Diabetesforecast.org, Barbara Brody addresses the tricky issues parents often face when a child is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She shares the story of a mother with a recently diagnosed 5-year-old child and the anxiety she’s faced in learning how to help her child cope with his diagnosis. The mother poses the question: how does a parent get their child to take their health seriously without frightening them or giving them body-image issues?
6 tips for helping your child cope with their type 2 diabetes:
Barbara Brody shares 6 tips for helping your child cope with their type 2 diabetes:
- End the Blame Game: Type 2 diabetes is caused by both genetics and environmental factors. Don’t focus on what caused it, focus on what needs to be done to manage it. And be careful not to criticize high glucose readings, as this could lead the child to not being honest for fear of criticism.
- Set Limits (within reason): You need to set limits to help them eat healthier, like having no soda in the home. But be careful to not go overboard, as being too strict often backfires.
- Don’t make kids do it alone: Choose to live healthier with your child. Eating the same food and exercising with your child shows support and is also good for you.
- Take baby steps: Learning to make healthy lifestyle choices doesn’t happen overnight. You need to focus on taking small steps. Small victories lead to big ones.
- Talk about the tough stuff: Emphasize to your kid that they are a person who happens to have type 2 diabetes, similar to a kid who has asthma or a heart condition.
- Enlist extra help: Joining support groups or consulting with mental health professionals shows your child they are not alone.
What is continuous glucose monitoring?
Continuous glucose monitoring systems, or CGMs, have been around since 1999, but until recently, only a few were approved by the FDA, so they were almost solely used by people with type 1 diabetes. Now multiple CGM’s are receiving FDA approval each year, making for a growing market where even type 2 diabetics tired of finger-pricking can have an affordable CGM. The Freestyle Libre, for example, costs between $40 and $75 per month, depending on the insurance.
CGMs work by implanting a sensor under the skin. The sensor continually monitors glucose levels and sends the data to an app on your phone. It’s usually used by type 1 diabetics, and often in conjunction with insulin pumps. But CGMs are growing in popularity among type 2 diabetics who want something to help them better manage their diabetes.
However, while CGMs have a lot of clear advantages for data and health management, they are not without cons. The experts at Diabetesstrong.com suggest CGMs tend to be less accurate than a glucometer because it measures glucose based of the interstitial fluid rather than the blood, so you may have to still use a glucometer when you suspect the sensor is off. In fact, Christel Oreum recommends you always trust what your body tells you and don’t rely too much on the CGM readings. She even suggests taking breaks from them every once in a while so that you’re not too over-reliant.
Another con is it does require an outpatient procedure to put the sensors under the skin. And while the procedure is generally very safe, it doesn’t come without risk or potential side effects, like bruising or skin sensitivity. In addition, the sensors have to be switched out. Some last a week. Some two weeks. The most recent CGM sensor lasts 90 days.
Why should you consider clinical trials?
To better treat, prevent and potentially cure diabetes, scientists have to run clinical trials for new technology and medicines to ensure products are both effective and safe. However, recruiting participants to these clinical trials is one of the major obstacles researchers face to progressing new treatments.
According to Nicole Kofman from diaTribe.org, recruiting participants is difficult because of several reasons: access and inconvenience, fear of risks, lack of understanding, and awareness. The first two reasons are somewhat difficult to overcome, as it’s not easy for many people to get to a trial or to convince them to join in a process that could have undesirable consequences. However, perhaps the biggest obstacle is the last, as Kofman points out that 85 percent of people don’t even realize clinical trials are an option.
Kofman notes how a significant portion of participants benefit from trials due to the intrinsic value of knowing they're helping advance science and improving lives, but she also argues that participants often receive better care, since they are treated by “some of the top researchers” at leading centers. In addition, many trials provide compensation for time away from work and travel.
Without clinical trials from past generations, we wouldn’t have glucometers, continuous glucose monitoring systems, diabetes medications, insulin pumps and more. These trials are essential for the next generation of diabetics. To get involved in a clinical trial, here are some resources to check out:
What is hypoglycemia?
When your blood sugar is low, you experience hypoglycemia. Diabetics are at a high risk for hypoglycemia because of the medications they take to keep their glucose levels down. Since your body either doesn’t produce insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin, you have to be careful to not let your glucose levels get too high. This means you either take medications or you limit the carbohydrates in your diet. Diabetes is largely a balancing act of trying to keep your glucose from going too high while also making sure it doesn’t get too low.
Typically, any glucose reading below 70 mg/dL is considered low enough to begin immediate treatment for hypoglycemia – getting glucose into your system. Still, it’s important to read your body. Just because your glucometer reads 80 mg/dL, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. If you’re feeling the symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should treat it. Here are some symptoms:
- An irregular heart rhythm
- Pale skin
- Dry mouth and throat
- Tingling sensation around the mouth
- Crying out during sleep
Severe hypoglycemia results in confusion, abnormal behavior, visual disturbances, seizures and, ultimately, unconsciousness.
Fast-acting glucose products: the best liquids, powders, tablets & gels
When you’re starting to feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia, it’s important to get glucose into your system before the symptoms become severe. This means having fast-acting glucose products on hand at all times, and potentially carrying a glucagon kit for instances when your symptoms are so severe you can’t swallow effectively.
Check out this list published by Diabetesforecast.org of the best-tasting and most-effective glucose liquids, powders, tablets and gels. The handy guide also provides the nutritional information, dosage and which stores carry the various brands listed.
If your body is not responding to glucose supplements, you need to seek a doctor’s help immediately.
Simple tweaks for healthier living with diabetes
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, making the lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor can feel like a daunting task. However, Hallie Levine, from DiabetesForecast.org, argues that it doesn’t need to be. She shares a 2017 study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business which found that focusing on subgoals creates a greater chance of success at reaching the main goal.
Here are 17 simple tweaks she argues you can make to improve your health:
- Skinnier dips: Use low-calorie options for dipping vegetables. For example, swapping out ranch dressing with salsa or hummus.
- Simplify portion control: Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, a quarter with grains or starchy veggies, and the rest with protein.
- Eat fish: Eating fatty fish twice a week is associated with a lower risk of diabetic retinopathy and heart disease.
- Check air quality: Air pollution triggers inflammation and reduces insulin production.
- Resistance-bands: A cheap resistance band is a good way to perform simple resistance training.
- Munch on nuts: Feasting on nuts has been shown to improve A1C.
- Socialize: Socializing with friends helps relieve stress, which is helpful because stress aggravates insulin sensitivity.
- Use colorful gear: You’re more likely to use exercise and diabetic gear if it’s colorful.
- Join a support group: Whether in-person or online, support groups improve diabetes management.
- Walk after meals: A 10-minute walk after dinner can result in a lower blood glucose reading.
- Make one day vegetarian: Plant-based diets are associated with lower blood glucose levels. Designating one day each week as a plant-based day is a small step.
- Intense interval training: 10 minutes of intense interval training improves insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Stand on one leg while brushing teeth: This is great if you have balance issues or if you’re older.
- Five-minute meditation break: Taking time each day for focused breathing or mindful movements have shown to improve A1C levels.
- Journal: Journaling improves memory, creativity and stress management.
- Don’t sleep in on weekends: Sleeping in on weekends, by as little as an hour, decreases insulin sensitivity.
- Short activity breaks: Get up and walk around for three minutes every half hour.
A recent study showed that focusing on weight loss after a Type-2 diagnosis might lead to a remission of symptoms. In the study, 149 middle-aged diabetics followed a dietitian-led weight loss program for 12 months following their Type-2 diagnosis with an average weight-loss of 10 percent of their body weight. Of the people in the study, 69 were able to regain healthy levels of insulin production and were able to go off medication. The results suggest remission might be possible, but only if you lose a significant amount of weight shortly after your diagnosis. And the greater the weight loss, the more likely the remission.
Dieting twice a week can lower A1C levels
If you’re having trouble keeping your A1C levels under control, and you struggle to adhere to a diet long-term, you may want to consider dieting just twice a week. A recent study of 137 adults with Type-2 diabetes showed if you can diet just twice a week, you can reduce your A1C levels.
In the study, half of the participants were asked to limit their calories to between 500-600 calories twice per week with no calorie restrictions on the other five days. The other half of the people were asked to adhere to a daily 1,200 to 1,500 calorie diet. After 12 months, both groups showed similar reductions to A1C levels, dropping an average of 0.3 to 0.5 percent. In addition, both groups lost about the same amount of weight, at an average of between 10 and 14 pounds over the course of the study.
Diabetic complications: a glossary of terms
While diabetes itself is a problem with your body’s ability to produce insulin to regulate glucose, it comes with complications that affect other aspects of your life. In this way, diabetes is a disease of complications.
The good news, according to DiabetesForecast.org, is most complications are preventable if you know what to do and you’re careful about controlling your blood glucose through diet and exercise.
Microvascular: These conditions are caused by damage to the small blood vessels, and they affect the eyes, nerves and kidneys.
Macrovascular: These conditions are caused by damage to the large blood vessels, and they affect the heart and brain.
Diabetic Retinopathy: A microvascular condition affecting the blood vessels in the eyes. Eventually, the condition damages the vessels supplying the retina with blood, causing blindness. This is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., with between 12,000 and 24,000 new diagnoses per year.
Peripheral Neuropathy: A condition that affects the nerves in the feet, legs, hands and arms. It starts as a tingling feeling, similar to what it feels like when your leg falls asleep. However, it progresses to a numbness and burning sensation. This condition affects around 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. While you’re at a higher risk of neuropathy the longer you’ve had diabetes, even the newly diagnosed can experience it. Often, neuropathy requires amputation.
Autonomic Neuropathy: Similar to peripheral neuropathy but less common, autonomic neuropathy affects the blood vessels in the heart, digestive system, sweat glands, sex organs, urinary tract, eyes, feet and lungs.
Nephropathy: A type of disease caused by damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys, which makes them unable to filter waste from the body. Severe cases result in failed kidneys and require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Resources for people with diabetes
Diabetes.org: The American Diabetes Association is the online authority on diabetes. If you or a loved one have diabetes, becoming a member is a great idea. The association is devoted to education, prevention, community and meal planning.
Diabetes Forecast: A partner of The Healthy Living Magazine, this resource includes consumer guides on diabetes products and medicines, as well as recipes and tips for taking care of the psychological impacts of living with diabetes.
diaTribe: Excellent resource for finding the latest academic studies on diabetes and clinical trials currently underway, including how you might be able to take part in the trials.
DiabeticGourmet: A website and magazine of diabetic-friendly recipes, diet tips and resources. You can register for free and keep track of your favorite recipes, connect with others on a forum, and receive tips for better management.
Diabetes Food Hub: A partner of the American Diabetes Association, this website is devoted to providing diabetic-friendly recipes and meal planning.
Beyond Type 1: A community of over 2 million people in over 150 countries. This website features programs, stories and news on Type 1 diabetes.
John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes: One of the most comprehensive online resources for diabetes articles, news, terminology, treatments and tools.
Six Until Me: A popular blog-style website created by Kerri Morrone Sparling where she shares inspiring essays and stories about her life with diabetes. She includes interviews with experts and advocates for products and diets that work for her.
Diabetes Monitor: A comprehensive collection of articles and information related to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The site connects you to experts and to a community called the Diabetes Collective.
Diabetes Exercise News & Organization: A resource for exercise-related articles to help with home-monitoring, recognizing symptoms and managing complications.
Diabetes Daily: A daily home for news, tips, articles, guides and stories about people living with diabetes.
Diabetes Training Camp: A non-profit foundation devoted to week-long and weekend camps designed to inspire, motivate, and educate people with diabetes so they can thrive.