Continuous Blood Glucose Monitors

The continuous blood glucose monitor is one of the most exciting pieces of wellness tech to hit the market in a long time. This wearable wellness monitor snaps onto the back of your arm, feeding you in the moment information about how your body reacts to foods, moods and so much more. 

We asked one of our top holistic nutrition pros, Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, IFNCP to break down everything we need to know about the tech, how it operates, and who it is for…

What the Heck Are Continuous Blood Glucose Monitors?

You’ve probably seen people on the internet, or even your friends in real life, wearing a censor on the back of their arm called a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). This is a wearable technology that gives you direct feedback on how your food and lifestyle choices influence your health and cellular biology.

Some have started using CGMs to understand their glucose patterns and responses to certain foods and habits in order to improve insulin sensitivity and reverse pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes or improve pregnancy outcomes for gestational diabetes.

And others who do not have diabetes are using the technology to improve symptoms associated with regular glucose spikes including fatigue, weight gain, imbalanced mood, and more.

Since regular glucose elevations are also associated with an increased risk of heart disease, it can also serve as a tool to help prevent heart disease. This tech gives you an ability to lift up the hood of your car, so to speak, and see exactly how your food and lifestyle habits are impacting this important aspect of your metabolic health. From there,  so that you can personalize your diet, exercise, and more.

CGMs: Not Just For Type 1 Diabetes

For the Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) community, having a CGM has been an absolute changing health technology for continuously measuring glucose levels since it was first approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999.

Historically, these glucose monitors have only been available for those with T1D who have a doctor’s prescription. But in the last few years, technology companies have identified that while 10% of the population has either Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease) or Type 2 Diabetes (a chronic disease), more than 50% of the population has abnormal glucose levels and/or insulin resistance and can also benefit from this information. Companies like Levels Health and others allow their customers to order a CGM device called the FreeStyle Libre 2 on the internet, which then syncs to an app on your mobile device.

The CGM device is inserted under the skin on your arm via a small needle. It measures your blood glucose levels from your tissue fluid between the cells. This information is tracked every few minutes and updated to the app.

How CGMs Create Transparency In Healthcare

Health tech companies are leading their customers to the future of healthcare which prioritizes transparency.

CGMs kill two birds with one stone: transparency in food and in health. You can access food transparency to understand how you personally respond to foods instead of being fed million dollar lies from the food industry and overly generalized diets from the diet industry, only to be treated with pharmaceuticals on the backend. I see it as a small step to put an end to the famous Wendell Berry quote that describes today’s reality: “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”

Now, you can see a data point in real time that demonstrates how changes in your day-to-day habits can harm or improve your health outcomes — without having to wait until a preventable diagnosis like dementia, diabetes or heart disease.

CGMs are an incredible advancement that brings you back into ownership of your health. You can assess for yourself which meals and habits lead to the biggest blood sugar spikes in real time and how you can improve your response.

One of my clients was told by their doctor that he was borderline diabetic. But the annual lab measurements such as HgA1c were not very actionable on a day-to-day basis. Using a CGM allowed him to see the direct feedback and make different choices in real time, ultimately leading him to reverse pre-diabetes in just six months using nutrition and lifestyle interventions alone.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had another client who was struggling with fatigue and an infrequent, irregular monthly cycle. After wearing a CGM for a month, I was able to show her that she has great glucose control and doesn’t need to continue the very low carb diet that she has been following for the last few years. We strategically increased the whole food carbohydrates in her diet in order to get her back to a more optimal place for her gut microbiome, thyroid, adrenals and hormones.

how do Continuous Blood Glucose Monitors

Should My Doctor Oversee My Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor?

Using a CGM that you purchase from an online tech company does not require working with a health professional, but I do encourage it. Some consumers may be able to use the data and identify their basic patterns and areas of opportunity,  but I do encourage people to work with a dietitian/practitioner who has CGM experience in order to help you better understand what your data means and what changes are best for you.

There are over 40 factors that influence your glucose levels. It can be complex to put all of the pieces together on your own.

Who Continuous Blood Glucose Monitors Are Not For

While CGMs are an incredible technology, they are not for everyone. I do not recommend CGMs for anyone with an eating disorder or history of an eating disorder that is easily triggered. For those who wear a CGM who do not have a history of an eating disorder, if you notice that wearing one leads you to obsessively track your numbers and experience food fear, anxiety and OCD-like tendencies then you are likely doing more harm than good. Continue to be mindful of your mental, emotional and spiritual health when you are using the device.

Levels Health is still in beta testing now. You can skip the waitlist of more than 150,000 people and order your CGM.

You fill out a form online, enter your payment information and they ship a device to your house. No more begging doctors for this information! Download my free CGM Guide here in order to help you better understand your data and health needs.

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