Best Glucose Meters
Why Use a Glucometer?
To best manage your diabetes, you need an accurate glucometer with an intuitive data management system, but you also want the best glucometer for the cost. I spent three weeks comparing glucose reading consistency, data management apps, test strip costs and availability. However, while our recommendations are made based on common scenarios, hands-on experience, market cost evaluations and a comparison of important features, they are not a replacement for advice from your doctor. Before purchasing a glucometer, consult with your doctor about what kind of features are a priority for your needs.
Best for Insulin Dependent Diabetics: FORA 6 Connect
The FORA 6 Connect is one of the few multi-functional glucometers on the market, capable of accepting strips to test for both blood glucose and ketone levels. While most people with diabetes don't test ketones, it's a critical measurement if you’re insulin-dependent (and if you’re trying the keto diet). However, it’s also recommended to test ketones on days when you’re feeling sick and your glucose levels are over 240 mg/dl, even if you aren’t insulin-dependent. Every diabetic is at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis, and having this kind of dual-functionality makes the FORA 6 Connect a valuable meter.
Even without the ketone strip functionality, the FORA 6 Connect is one of the best glucometers I've reviewed. In the accuracy tests, all the readings fell within the acceptable range for accuracy. The device’s display is big and easy to read, and the multiple-button interface makes it the easiest FORA meter I’ve used. In addition, at about 50 cents each, the test strips are reasonably affordable, which is a pleasant surprise. The only downside is they aren't widely available; currently, you can only order them online.
The meter uses Bluetooth to sync your readings with the iFORA app. While this app was edged out by Dario’s for the best data management system, it's still one of the best on the market. The interface is easy to navigate, and you can add notes to your readings and see the data in graphs and charts. The iFORA app also lets you share this information with your physician.
Read the full review of FORA 6 Connect.
- Pro: Dual-functionality to test glucose and ketones
- Pro: Very consistent in the accuracy tests
- Pro: Easy to use
- Con: Test strips aren’t widely available
- Con: Ketone strips are expensive
- Con: Meter is expensive
Best All-Around Performance: Contour Next One
The Contour Next One doesn't have a large display, but with Bluetooth and a smartphone app, you can sync your readings to your phone and make all the necessary notes from there. For example, you can record whether the reading was taken pre- or post-meal, before bed, etc. The app makes it easy to track your levels and even allows you to share the data with your physician. This is also one of the most affordable glucometers, with test strips that perform well and don't break the bank.
In our tests, the Contour Next One was the most consistent glucometer, never once giving a reading outside the accuracy range, which we set by calculating the average reading across all the glucometers in each round of testing – any meter that displayed a number between 15 percent above and 15 percent below the average was considered accurate. However, this isn't an absolute statement of accuracy; before hitting the shelves, all glucometers must meet FDA standards for accuracy and go through tests that are more controlled and stringent than those we were able to perform.
The Contour Next One received an A+ for test strip availability. We looked for the strips in more than 20 online stores and local pharmacies, and we found them at every single one. That said, each strip costs about 56 cents, which is certainly more affordable than those used by other big-brand glucometers but still more expensive than many other test strips.
Read the full review of Contour Next One.
- Pro: Very consistent readings
- Pro: Test strips are easy to find
- Pro: Very good data management app
- Con: Smaller display than average
- Con: Test strips are more expensive than most
- Con: Doesn’t test for ketones
Best Value: TRUE METRIX AIR
Our pick for best value is the TRUE METRIX AIR. This glucometer syncs your test results to a mobile app over Bluetooth, and it performed well in our accuracy tests. Its test strips are also the most affordable and among the easiest to find.
In our evaluation, the AIR’s test strips received an A+ for cost. On average, they cost 23 cents each, and we found them in almost every store we checked, even the brick-and-mortar pharmacies. To put this into perspective, the most expensive test strips we reviewed were $1.22 each, and the average across all the glucometers we tested was 55 cents per strip. When you consider ongoing costs, you'll pay much less with the TRUE METRIX AIR.
In our accuracy tests, the AIR performed well, though not great, receiving a B. Its test strips had a comparatively high failure rate – failed strips don’t drink up enough blood and produce an error message on the glucometer. Still, since it uses the most affordable strips on the market, a few failed ones isn’t as big of a deal as wasting strips that cost more than $1 each.
Read the full review of TRUE METRIX AIR.
- Pro: Very affordable test strips
- Pro: Above-average consistency with readings
- Pro: Easy to find test strips
- Con: Test strips require more blood than others
- Con: Tended to provide higher readings than other glucometers
- Con: Lots of failed test strips
Best Voice Guidance: FORA TN’G Voice
The FORA TN'G Voice is our pick for people with diabetes who have poor eyesight. The TN’G Voice was designed specifically for this purpose, featuring a loud voice to read out glucose levels. The voice guidance system also walks you through the meter’s other features, so you can use each one without consulting the display. Very few glucometers have voice guidance or large displays, a surprising issue considering how many diabetics have vision impairments resulting from microvascular conditions like diabetic retinopathy, resulting in damage to blood vessels in the eyes.
The meter’s voice guidance is loud and easy to understand. Even though I can see just fine, I successfully navigated the features and took readings without having to look at the display. That said, the voice system isn't without its faults. We struggled to turn it off and adjust the volume, which can be annoying if you’re concerned about taking readings in public. It also begins every test with "Thank you for using ForaCare products," which is nice to hear the first time you use the meter but not every time you test your blood.
In our evaluation, the FORA TN’G Voice’s test strips received a B+ for cost when compared to those used by other meters; they cost only 40 cents per strip, on average. We only found the strips on Fora's website and Amazon, so you need to track your supply and order refills well in advance.
Read the full review of Fora TN’G Voice.
- Pro: Voice Guidance for vision-impaired users
- Con: FORA test strips aren’t widely available
Best Data Management App: Dario
Dario is one of the newest brands and most unique glucometers to hit the market in recent years. Unlike other glucose meters, the Dario meter plugs into your smartphone. You download the companion app, and it acts as the glucometer’s interface. The app is also a well-designed data management system that helps you track your diabetes. There's no need to sync data via Bluetooth or connect the glucometer to a computer with a micro-USB cable – the data is uploaded as you take your reading. This is why Dario is our pick for the glucometer with the best data management app.
The app is well designed and easy to navigate. It has animations that let you know it's reading your sample, and the display is only limited by the size of your smartphone’s screen. This makes it far superior to other glucometers in terms of visibility – the numbers are big and the screen is colorful, but there's enough contrast that it's not distracting.
However, the Dario requires a 3.5mm audio jack to work, which means it isn’t compatible with the iPhone 7 or newer versions of the smartphone. To overcome the shortfall, the company has developed an iPhone-compatible version that plugs into a Lightning port, but it's currently awaiting approval from the FDA.
Another drawback is the availability of its test strips. Dario is not a huge brand with wide distribution, so the test strips aren’t available many places outside of the company’s own website; nonetheless, it offers a subscription service where you pay a monthly fee to have an unlimited number of strips shipped directly to you.
Read the full review of Dario.
- Pro: Excellently designed data management app
- Con: Strips are only available online
Why Trust Us?
Top Ten Reviews has been reviewing glucometers since 2014, and I've been reviewing them since 2016. While I don't have diabetes, I have diabetic family members and friends. I know firsthand the important role their glucometers play in helping them better manage their diets and keep their glucose levels from getting out of control.
With diabetes being such a serious disease, I've approached my research and testing with a sincere desire to get it right. Unlike most other consumer products I review, a bad glucometer can profoundly affect your life, which is why I emphasize the need to talk to your doctor about what type of glucometer is best for you. Don't just take my word for it.
I've been an expert reviewer since 2013, but I've never intentionally bled for my reviews until now. In my tests, I pricked my fingers between two and five times per day for three weeks. These tests had two purposes: to see if the glucometers produce the same readings when tested on the same blood sample (they don't) and to empathize with the process. I only did this for three weeks, and it wasn't pleasant. The pain of the lancet isn't terrible, but by the end of it, my fingers were sore enough to make playing the drums and the guitar unpleasant. However, many diabetics do this every day with the knowledge that they'll continue doing it for the rest of their lives.
What We Tested
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, I developed a simple range-based test based on the FDA requirements to evaluate the comparative accuracy of the glucometers I reviewed.
What the Accuracy Grade Is:
The grade is the culmination of 60 rounds of tests and approximately 500 drops of blood performed over a three week period. It reflects how well the glucometer performed within a 15 percent range calculated from the average reading of each round. I also consider failed test strips into the grade, as sometimes test strips don’t work.
That said, 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, I 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 – mine. 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, I started each round of tests by washing my hands. This is important because dirt and other contaminants can cause a reading to be inaccurate. Once my hand was dry (also important because water can dilute the blood sample and produce an inaccurate reading), I used the deepest setting on a lancet to puncture one of my fingers and create a drop of blood from which I 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. I 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, I averaged all 11 results. I 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.
While I couldn't know my true glucose level without a lab test, it's reasonable to think that it was within that acceptable range and likely closer to the average than otherwise. This means it's also reasonable to think that any readings that fall outside of this range have a high likelihood of being inaccurate. Every round of testing produced at least one inaccurate reading. Most had two or three.
After 30 rounds of these tests, I consulted with a medical expert in the diabetes industry (who declined to be named for this article) about my 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 I may be introducing too much lymphatic fluid into the blood sample when I squeezed my finger to get the blood sample, which would throw off the accuracy.
He recommended that I test each glucometer on drops of blood produced without squeezing the prick site. In other words, I'd have to prick my finger 11 times for each round instead of once. He suggested that I'd get more consistently accurate results this way. So, I continued with this more painful methodology for the remainder of the tests. However, the results were no different than when I 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.
In addition to accuracy, I also routinely tested consistency by using each glucometer three times in a row on the same drop of blood. Usually, if you get a reading you suspect is inaccurate, it's recommended you test again – sometimes the sample is contaminated or the test strip is bad. However, my consistency tests showed that the glucometers were usually consistent, with only a 5 to 10 mg/dL difference between the lowest and the highest readings, with only a few exceptions.
After all the tests, I 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 my methodology has issues. In fact, I 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 & Connectivity
I 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 "[t]oday'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."
With this in mind, I closely evaluated the data management apps and desktop software that come with these glucometers, paying particular attention to connectivity and ease of use. Mobile apps are preferable to desktop software because Bluetooth allows the glucometer to almost instantly sync data to your data management system.
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.
Test Strip Costs & Availability
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, I compiled a list of the most common online stores and five local pharmacies. I 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.
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 my tests from the cheaper models.
How Much Are Blood Glucose Test Strips?
The most important cost consideration when choosing a glucometer is the test strips. Since you can’t get cheap off-brand test strips, you have to consider the long-term costs and price fluctuations. When I 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.
What Else You Should Consider
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:
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.
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. I 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?
Brody shares the following 6 tips for helping your child cope with their type 2 diabetes:
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.
News About Diabetes Research, Technology and Clinical Trials
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 422 million diabetics in the world. The health-care industry is constantly developing new technology and methods for diabetes self-management. Below are some noteworthy headlines about research, technology and trials.
FDA Approves First Fully Implanted Glucose Monitoring System
On June 21, 2018, the FDA approved the Eversense CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) for diabetics over 18 years old. It’s the first fully implanted glucose monitoring system approved by the FDA. Requiring just a 5-millimeter incision in an outpatient procedure, the Eversense CGM is completely hidden, unlike other implanted sensors. In addition, you only have to replace it every 90 days instead of every week.
The Eversense CGM uses light-based fluorescent polymer technology to measure glucose levels, eliminating the need to prick your finger for blood, and the sensor wirelessly sends the readings to a mobile app every five minutes. A great advantage of this over traditional glucometers is the automatic alerts it sends when your glucose levels are too high or low, allowing faster treatment and greater potential for minimizing the progression of the disease over time.
Before approval, the FDA required a clinical study of 125 diabetics, comparing the device’s accuracy to lab-conducted glucose readings while evaluating the potential risks, which are listed as allergic reactions, bleeding, bruising, infection, pain and discomfort, scarring, sensor fracture during removal and skin inflammation. However, the FDA found these risks occurred less than 1 percent of the time.
Upon the study’s completion and the unanimous approval for the U.S. market from the FDA Advisory Committee, the commissioner, Scott Gottlieb M.D. described the device as a “vivid illustration of the potential for these mobile platforms.”
Study Shows Losing Weight After Type-2 Diagnosis May Lead to Remission
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.