My Critical Review
Glucose monitors (hereinafter CGM = Continuous glucose monitor) for “non-diabetics” are on the rise and are slowly starting to land in Finland as well. Is this just a new passing trend or can the indicators really promote a healthier lifestyle? I’ve been following the discussion for a while now and I want to give my own view – can a non-diabetic benefit from continuous glucose monitoring?
This article has not been written in collaboration with Veri, but it does include a link to the service I personally tested for the article. I paid for the tested sensor at full price from my own wallet. I try to express my opinion impartially so that you can form your own.
Why should you monitor it and what does science say?
For diabetics, measuring blood glucose is very important, but what good is measuring if there is no diagnosis of diabetes?
The first argument in favor of CGM sensors is metabolic health. Metabolism refers to a biological process in the body that breaks down the food we eat into energy that can be utilized by the body’s cells and organs. Virtually all of the life-sustaining activity that takes place in your body is metabolism. It starts before you are born and ends the moment you die. So good metabolic health is like a well-off body.
Metabolic syndrome is a public health challenge today and is thus, in a way, the opposite of metabolic health. According to Wikipedia:
"Metabolic syndrome, or MBO, refers to a condition in which the same person has multiple risk factors for atherosclerosis and adult-onset diabetes." These are: * overweight (especially obesity) * high blood pressure * Elevated fasting blood sugar * insulin resistance * Elevated blood fats, especially triglycerides * low HDL cholesterol
So how can a CGM sensor help improve metabolic health?
Your blood sugar is definitely measured at work or school health. Monitoring is carried out at most once a year, but in working life, as a rule, only every three years. Blood tests measure fasting blood sugar, which may indicate the development of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. However, this says nothing about the daily fluctuations in your blood sugar . The variation can be significant and different foods cause larger spikes in blood sugar (hyperglycemia) for some than for others. Postprandial hypoglycaemia may be severe in some cases and may be referred to as reactive hypoglycaemia. Large variations in blood sugar have been combined in some studies in pre-diabetes and therefore in the development of type 2 diabetes.
One of the biggest advocates for CGM sensors is Peter Attia, a respected Canadian doctor. He is a high-end “biohacker” specializing in longevity and performance optimization. Peter has written extensively on the subject, including his comprehensive article “ Are continuous glucose monitors a waste of time for people without diabetes?” he says:
Prospective studies show that higher glucose variability in nondiabetics is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease , Alzheimer’s disease , frailty , cardiovascular death , cancer death , and death from any cause compared to lower glucose variability.Peter Attia
Studies on the subject are actually very inadequate and there is no waterproof evidence that blood sugar variability says anything substantial. So there is some evidence on the subject, but it does not stand up to closer critical scrutiny. The facts of that article by Peter Attia are also a little wrong, if you have to believe Mr. Kevin Bass. He has, in fact, written a comprehensive response to the aforementioned Attia article. If you blindly believe in all CGM propaganda, I recommend reading this article .
So “CGM hype” is at least in part just that, hype. But is it completely useless? I will share my subjective opinion on this below.
Science cannot yet say with certainty that large variations in blood sugar are often associated with poor metabolic function in the body. It is not known whether a change in blood sugar is a cause or a consequence. Peter Attia does remarkable work and I really hope he is right about his claims. Now, however, it is too early to tell black and white truths in one direction or another. My own opinion will change as new research results are published. One way or another.
One thing about using sensors is also a concern. I feel that there is a danger in follow-up that choices are made with the wrong arguments. Clearly, bacon does not raise blood sugar in the same way as oatmeal. If you don’t use common sense and only look at CGM values, you can climb a tree ass-ahead. One measure of health should not be sacrificed in front of another. By the way, I am an advocate of a varied diet and I do not support ketogenic or other diets (although there is certainly place for them too). It should also be borne in mind that metrics given by CGMs are not 100% reliable but may vary in one direction or another.
However, I by no means think that using a CGM sensor would be pointless. On the contrary, it can provide vital information about your own metabolism.
The fact is that ~ 20% of the Finnish population is estimated to have pre-diabetes and an equal number of metabolic syndromes . Consciously or unknowingly. Pre-diabetes is the stage before the actual diagnosis of diabetes and science agrees that type 2 diabetes is associated with many diseases. For this reason, I feel that any non-diabetic will benefit from short-term blood glucose monitoring, but I don’t think long-term monitoring will necessarily have a similar benefit.
In particular, I think CGM is especially beneficial in three cases: if you have type 2 diabetes in your family, in “mapping” your pre-diabetes, and in making better eating habits.
My own observations from the 14-day follow-up
To keep the article from going too long, I don’t want to go through my own experience in deep details, but I want to highlight a few key points I noticed.
I tested the CGM device of Veri, a new Finnish startup company (formerly known as Veri stable). Veri uses Abbot’s Freestyle Libre sensors that record data for eight hours. The device arrived in the mail on a fast schedule and just as quickly it found its place in my upper arm. After installing the sensor, the device uses the first hour for calibration, after which all data is saved. Data can be easily captured from the sensor with NFC technology. It works on Android and iPhone phones.
The app itself was very clear and easy to use. I especially like the fact that when you add a meal, you can take a picture of the serving.
The first essential observation was that evening porridge rises up my blood sugar tremendously and doesn’t want to drop even two hours after eating. The portions, tough, are quite large and are spiced with fruit and berries. So no wonder your blood sugar goes up but the little wonder is it doesn’t want to go down. As a rule, one still stays “inside the boundaries”, although the boundaries are very shaky and science cannot say one true boundary.
Another big point was that even though I enjoy fasting, the big servings that end fasting didn’t raise my blood sugar tremendously. Even though I ate carbohydrate-rich food.
It also came as a surprise that even the birthday treat that was in the test period didn’t cause blood sugar to pop into infinite readings. In this case, too, blood sugar did not fall to the norm very quickly.
The third big point was that if I stayed behind after a meal, my blood sugar didn’t want to drop at all. If I stood up or went for a walk in particular, there were usually almost no spikes in blood sugar even though I was eating a carbohydrate-rich meal.
It should be mentioned that I myself am an all-rounder when it comes to diet, although meat consumption has dropped about 90% of the former and the use of dairy products is quite minimal.
I will write a more comprehensive article on the subject later. At this point, it should be mentioned that as a service itself, Veri was absolutely brilliant. The app is clear, the customer service was quick and good. 6/5 stars from the service.
Although science does not yet know all the phenomena of glucose metabolism, I feel that any non-diabetic can benefit from the use of a CGM sensor for the reasons mentioned above. For this reason, I am happy to encourage anyone interested to test “what can be found under the hood”. However, I suggest on the same breath that you look at the data with common sense and not make hasty decisions based on your own follow-up. You should always see a doctor if you have any doubts about the results.
With this code you get a 20% discount on your first purchase from Veri.co (14 days 87.2€ or 28 days 127.8€ ). Blood offers a renewable “monthly subscription,” but after using the sensors you purchased, you can pause your subscription if you wish. The data is still always visible in Veri’s appö.
What thoughts did the article evoke? Was there anything you’d like to ask? Ask away, I’ll be happy to answer.