Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and you
Is it me? Or is it my food choices?
Inflammation is the root cause of most diseases. Think of a volcano, the lava is boiling down inside it even when no activity is evident on the outside. Like a volcano, which can blow with little to no warning apart from very sophisticated seismographic tools, sometimes the first sign of our inflammation is a heart attack or stroke or cancer. Getting control of your sugar is a way to get control of inflammation. A newer low-cost tool is the wearable CGM (continuous glucose monitor). Like a seismograph, it can warn you of extreme ups and downs in your sugar and help you reset to a healthier average. Insulin resistance is associated with a host of health issues and can be modified by simple lifestyle modifications. This device is only covered by insurance if you have diabetes, but even as a self-pay it costs under $75 for 4 weeks of use and would qualify for your HAS. This is a great tool to see in real time how your eating choices and exercise patterns affect your health. Now for some CGM strategies
First week: Wear your CGM and keep a food diary. Take a picture of everything you eat. You will find yourself reducing the number of “bored” calories you are eating just because food is available, and you have the time. If your pattern looks like a seismograph, then consult your physician because that could be a sign of insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance.
Second week: start with some small changes in the order that you eat your food. First eat your salad, veggies, then meat and then your bread or rice. The order of your food affects your body’s response to carbs. The fiber in the veggies turns your food into slow burn energy instead of rocket fuel which spikes your sugar up and then dumps you sugar back to a low. We all consume too little fiber. We need up to 28 grams of fiber daily. Fiber helps make our GI tract work better by providing much needed prebiotics or food for our healthy gut microbiome. While you are preparing your meal you can drink a glass of easy dissolve, no sugar powdered fiber. This will blunt the spike you would get from a heavier carb meal and prevent the post carb low that makes you want to eat more. Another easy way to blunt the “spike” is to take a walk after dinner or do some jumping jacks or other rapid burn exercise. There are other supplement “hacks” that help reduce the sugar spike that you can research online.
Third week: Hopefully by seeing what your food choices are doing to your glucose readout, this translates into more healthy eating and ditching foods that are pure sugar like fruit juices, soft drinks and vending machine foods. This week you can focus on timing your meals so that you can take advantage of the benefits of intermittent fasting. Our body is designed to cycle between building new tissues and recycling the old. When a cell has reached the end of its life span or health span then the body “eats” up the worn-out cell and recycles the parts to make new healthy cells. This is called autophagy. This happens best when you fast for more than 13 hours. By the way, that is why our first meal of the day is called “Break-fast”. The easiest time to fast is while you sleep but this can only happen if you eat early enough for your dinner glucose peak to return to baseline before bedtime. If you eat late at night, then your baseline nighttime glucose is elevated, and you never enter the fasting recycling state. Imagine your home if you never threw out the garbage! That is what happens when we are continual eaters and don’t allow our bodies to fast and rebuild. This cellular garbage – damaged cells- are accumulating, sending out distress signals then your body goes into stress mode which then increases your sensitivity to any simple carb, and you are now spinning in a vicious cycle. Intermittent Fasting is a tool that can be used in many health conditions including cancer treatment and recovery.
There are numerous articles, podcasts and blogs on this topic. Resources include the Glucose Goddess at www.glucosegoddess.com and www.optimizingnutrition.com. You will be more successful and have more fun if you do this with a group of people because we all like a little competition and in a group, there is more accountability. Do this with your family, friends or coworkers. We have all been given one body, so let’s not take it for granted and let’s treat it as a valuable gift not a garbage truck!