Your morning bowl of cornflakes may be sending your blood sugar into the stratosphere, new research suggests.
Everyone’s blood glucose levels ebb and flow throughout the day based on our activity levels, they kind and quantity of calories we consume, metabolism and much more.
People who have diabetes or prediabetic are most classically defined by their bodies’ struggle to regulate glucose.
But a new Stanford University study has revealed that even most people who would otherwise be considered ‘healthy’ have significant glucose spikes throughout the day – especially if their first meal is cornflakes and milk.
A spoonful of high blood sugar: Stanford University tests of continuous blood sugar monitors revealed high spikes in glucose levels after ‘healthy’ people eat cornflakes with milk
The discovery was an unexpected result of the institution’s tests of new constant glucose monitoring devices.
With older glucose monitors, doctors have typically recommended that people with type one diabetes test their blood any where from four to 10 times a day. Those with type two most commonly measure their levels after each meal and once before bed.
But continuous monitors, typically consisting of a tiny implant just beneath the skin that transmits to a phone or watch, give a comprehensive view of glucose fluctuations, rather than a series of snapshots.
‘Soon, you’re going to see a lot more of them, they’re going to be incredibly widespread,’ much like fitness trackers such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit, senior study author Dr Michael Snyder told Daily Mail Online.
As he and his team followed a group of study participants – some ‘healthy,’ others prediabetic and others diabetic – for four years, they saw something surprising.
‘Lots of ‘normal’ people spiked very high, as high as diabetics,’ said Dr Snyder.
‘There are a lot of people running around with spiking glucose levels who have no idea that these spikes have been associated with cardiovascular disease and things like that.’
Based on the treasure trove of information that Dr Snyder and his team gathered from the glucose monitors on their 57 subject, they categorized people into three self-explanatory groups: high spikers, medium spikers and low spikers.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE NEW TYPES OF DIABETES?
For decades the disease has been considered to be two different forms – type one, an autoimmune disease in which people stop producing insulin, and type two, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin.
But now a major project in Sweden and Finland has found type two diabetes should actually be categorised as four different diseases.
The researchers, led by experts at Lund University, said the findings should prompt a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way people treat diabetes.
Cluster 1. Severe Autoimmune Diabetes – which until now has been known as ‘type one’ diabetes – is an autoimmune disease in which people stop producing insulin. Usually strikes in childhood but can emerge in adults. Requires insulin injections for life.
Cluster 2. Severe Insulin-Deficient Diabetes – young people often misdiagnosed as having type one, but whose immune systems are fine. Actually a variant of type two diabetes, but often of a healthy weight. High blood sugar, low insulin production and moderate insulin resistance.
Cluster 3. Severe Insulin-Resistant Diabetes – is predominantly linked to obesity and severe insulin resistance.
Cluster 4. Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes – includes obese patients, but is less serious and includes people who fall ill at a relatively young age.
Cluster 5. Mild Age-Related Diabetes is the largest group, with 40 per cent of all patients, and consists mostly of elderly patients.
These spikes occurred after people at all kinds of foods, and it seems that not everyone experiences the same extremity of spike with the same foods.l
Of course, most people with diabetes or who were prediabetic – meaning have somewhat elevated blood glucose in general and are already somewhat insulin resistant – fit into the ‘high spiker’ category.
But so did many people who previously thought they were in the normal range.
Earlier this year, Swedish researchers described five types (or ‘clusters’ as they called the groups) of type two diabetes.
Dr Snyder thinks that his research suggests we need more granular divisions still in order to properly diagnose and treat people as individuals.
‘That’s just the tip of the iceberg,’ he said.
‘We think there are many more. Their number is five, and I think that’s going to expand as we try to really pick people apart for what’s wrong with them glucose-wise.’
Doing so could help to really fine tune treatment and dietary plans to optimize glucose levels for everyone – not just those who have been traditionally considered diabetic.
But good starting place for us all might be to cut the cereal out of our morning routine, the Stanford study, published in Plos, suggests.
Dr Snyder’s team separated out a subgroup of 30 participants and put them on a controlled diet. For their research purposes, the most important meal of the day was breakfast (when the ‘tank is on empty,’ and the leftovers of the last meal are most likely to have already been metabolized).
The participants alternately ate a protein bar, a peanut butter sandwich or cornflakes with milk.
Surprisingly, it was the cornflakes and milk that sent most people’s blood sugar through the roof. In fact, 80 percent of people experienced high spikes after eating the seemingly simple breakfast.
Dr Snyder aims to figure out what distinguishes high spikers from low ones, and how extensive the health benefits of keeping glucose spikes to a minimum are.
But for now there is at least one quite clear take away from the study: ‘The data are right in front of you, 80 percent of people are spikers, so can’t say I’d run around endorsing eating cornfalkes with milk. I’m not sure that would be in anyone’s best interest,’ Dr Snyder said.