According to a study, researchers developed a device that keeps extra-close tabs on the ups and downs of blood glucose levels reveals that most people see only a partial picture of the sugar circulating in their blood. It turns out that the level of sugar in an individual's blood, especially in individuals who are considered healthy, fluctuates more than traditional means of monitoring, like the one-and-done finger-prick method, would have us believe.

Often, these fluctuations come in the form of "spikes," or a rapid increase in the amount of sugar in the blood, after eating specific foods most commonly, carbohydrates. There are lots of folks running around with their glucose levels spiking, and they don't even know it. The study was published online in PLOS Biology.

The covert spikes are a problem because high blood sugar levels, especially when prolonged, can contribute to cardiovascular disease risk and a person's tendencies to develop insulin resistance, which is a common precursor to diabetes,

They have study participants a continuous glucose-monitoring device, which superficially pokes into the surface layer of the skin and takes constant readings of sugar concentrations in the blood as it circulates.

The goal is to one day use the framework to compile data from an individual and, based on their continuous glucose readout, direct them away from particularly "spikey" foods.

Individualized differences for glucose dysregulation

There are a number of possible physiological reasons for increased glucose variability, including, but not limited to, insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. To further examine the factors underlying variable glucose patterns described by glucotypes, we compared insulin secretion rate, insulin resistance, and insulin concentrations with regard to glucotype patterns.

In this study, we recorded almost 500,000 measurements from 57 participants. We observed a considerable amount of intra- and interpersonal variability in glucose measurements. Spectral clustering revealed 3 glucotypes of increasing variability (low, moderate, and severe) each also characterized by increasing mean glucose that explained 73% of the observed variance.


The fraction of time spent in low and severe variability patterns correlated with standard measures of glycemia associated with diabetes risk. Further, they demonstrated heterogeneity in glycemic responses to standardized meals, even within traditional ADA-defined glucose-tolerant categories.

Thus, the results of the current study highlight individual variability in glycemic responses to oral nutrients and the ability to detect clinically significant degrees of hyperglycemia that would not have been identified using traditional tests.