Today we are talking about continual glucose monitoring, what it is, why we want to use it, how it affects your health and weight, and what you need to know before buying one.
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Why do we want to use CGM (continual glucose monitoring):
Your body processes food into glucose to use as energy. Certain foods or too much food can cause your glucose to spike. Excess glucose is stored as fat.
CGM will help you learn how food, exercise, sleep, and stress affect your glucose. Make small changes to your nutrition and lifestyle to keep your glucose stable, and achieve better health, weight loss, and more.
CGM’s are a wearable device that is inserted under the skin. Many do come with a cover, like kinesiotape, that is waterproof and will help protect the technology. They connect to an app on your phone so you can monitor your blood sugars in real time. You don’t have to rely on painful finger pricks throughout the day, which is the best part.
While these products were designed for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar, many companies have begun to help the average consumer use the trackers. I’m going to talk about insurance at the end too. Their focus in marketing is typically around weight loss, but using these monitors also helps with sleep, exercise, mood, and so much more.
What the system looks like:
First, you get a sensor and this inserts the monitor into your skin. It is relatively painless depending where you put it. They suggest using it on your stomach, but you can also use it on the back of your arms. Then there is a sensor that attaches to the monitor, and this is the piece that connects to your app.
The app takes about 2 hours to warm up and you need to be fasting during this time so your blood sugar is stable. After that, the app is always running. You can open the app and see where you are in real time. You will see your glucose levels change with eating, exercise, stress, sleep, and see how your lifestyle really impacts your daily blood sugar. From there, you can make changes that will help keep your glucose levels more stable throughout the day, which in turn will help reduce weight, improve your sleep and energy, and even hormones.
The key here is that just wearing the monitor won’t change anything. You have to put in the detective work to see what is really impacting your levels and why.
What I love:
- Seeing my blood sugar in almost real time
- Seeing how what I though wasn’t affecting me, actually was. Like coffee creamer
- Motivation to keep it stable: no cheating, going extra
- Signos has great prompts, support, and helps you really understand you
What I don’t love
- Application was a little painful, and then really painful in a less ‘fatty’ part of my arm.
- The sensor takes 2+days to calibrate, during those two days your readings will be really off so you do lose some time every 10 days while waiting
- You do need a finger stick glucose monitor to calibrate the sensors.
- On average, the sensor is +/- 20 points off, so I’m not 100% sure I would recommend this for true diabetics
When I have my patients use this:
- They struggle with weight loss and no diet has been found that has been helpful
- They struggle with pre-diabetes or any type of diabetes.
What about insurance not covering them?
- I see a lot of people complaining about how this tech is not free or covered for diabetics and that is a serious problem
- I believe that these companies probably want to help, that’s what they were created for. But insurance covers NOTHING and won’t pay them. So they used this opportunity in the market to sell their devices.
- I don’t think these companies are driving up insurance prices, or making them inaccessible
- Insurance never wants to do what helps their payors, just their bottom line.
- Similar to functional medicine, insurance doesn’t cover testing, consults, supplements – insurance is really just a safety net like car insurance. You only use it when there is a serious accident, but car insurance doesn’t cover oil changes, new tires, washes, or the day to day support vehicles need.