Should “Healthy People” Wear Continuous Glucose Monitors?

In the realm of personal health technology, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have emerged as a game-changer for managing diabetes. But what about those who don't have diabetes or prediabetes? Could wearing a CGM provide benefits for the generally healthy population or those interested in living longer, healthier lives?

The simple fact is that the most consequential factor that determines your risk of rapid aging and disease is your blood sugar control and balance. Insulin resistance that causes blood sugar imbalances drives every known chronic disease of aging including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more. Knowing your glucose (and ideally insulin) is one of the most important metrics to track to know and manage your risk of ill health and age related disease.

Here’s what the latest science says.

Why is Glucose Important to Measure?

CGMs offer real-time insights into how your body responds to food, stress, exercise, and sleep by tracking your blood glucose levels 24/7.

Roughly the size of two stacked quarters, they consist of a small wearable biosensor that’s applied to the skin using an adhesive patch (usually to the back of the arm). Once applied, the sensors measure glucose levels in the interstitial fluid between your cells and sync the data to an app on your smartphone at regular intervals, e.g., every five minutes, giving you a continuous, real-time view of your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

While CGMs were initially intended and approved for use by individuals with diabetes, they can provide invaluable information even if you’re not diabetic—as glucose spikes and resulting insulin surges are one of the most important drivers of disease and aging.

Do Continuous Glucose Monitors Require a Subscription?

In a groundbreaking move, the FDA just granted clearance for the first over-the-counter continuous glucose monitor “for those without diabetes who want to better understand how diet and exercise may impact blood sugar levels.”

Trusted services like Levels

also provide access to the latest sensors paired with an app that studies your diet and activity choices to suggest changes to improve your healthand you don’t have to wear a glucose monitor for the rest of your life. Wearing a CGM for just a month or two can help identify key insights you can use to improve your levels. 

Insights You Can Gain from Tracking Your Glucose
By providing real-time feedback on how different foods, activities, and stress levels affect blood sugar, CGMs empower individuals to craft a highly personalized approach to health, tailored to their unique metabolic responses.

Tailoring Your Diet for Optimal Health

One of the most significant benefits of wearing a CGM is the ability to see how specific foods affect your blood sugar levels. By using a CGM, you can tailor your diet to stabilize blood sugar levels, potentially leading to improved energy levels, better weight management, and a reduced risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Enhancing Exercise Routines

Exercise is known to influence glucose metabolism significantly. A CGM can help you understand how different types of exercise impact your glucose levels, enabling you to adjust your workout regimen for optimal health outcomes.

Stress Management and Sleep Quality

Stress and poor sleep can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Continuous glucose monitoring can reveal these impacts, providing a powerful motivator to adopt stress reduction techniques and improve sleep habits.

Potential Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits are compelling, it's important to consider the potential downsides. CGMs are expensive, and their cost may not be justifiable for everyone. Additionally, the constant stream of data can be overwhelming and, for some, may lead to unnecessary anxiety about normal fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

For the generally healthy individual, wearing a CGM can offer profound insights into how lifestyle choices impact metabolic health. They empower personalized adjustments to diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep, potentially staving off metabolic diseases and improving overall quality of life.

 

References

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3. Kurauti MA, Soares GM, Marmentini C, Bronczek GA, Branco RCS, Boschero AC. Insulin and aging. Vitam Horm. 2021;115:185-219. doi:10.1016/bs.vh.2020.12.010

4. Portero-Otin M, de la Maza MP, Uribarri J. Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products: Their Role in the Insulin Resistance of Aging. Cells. 2023;12(13):1684. Published 2023 Jun 21. doi:10.3390/cells12131684

5. Tucker LA. Insulin Resistance and Biological Aging: The Role of Body Mass, Waist Circumference, and Inflammation. Biomed Res Int. 2022;2022:2146596. Published 2022 May 9. doi:10.1155/2022/2146596

6. Skroce K, Zignoli A, Fontana FY, et al. Real World Interstitial Glucose Profiles of a Large Cohort of Physically Active Men and Women. Sensors (Basel). 2024;24(3):744. Published 2024 Jan 24. doi:10.3390/s24030744

7. Addo PNO, Mundagowa PT, Zhao L, Kanyangarara M, Brown MJ, Liu J. Associations between sleep duration, sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease biomarkers among adults in the United States. BMC Public Health. 2024;24(1):947. Published 2024 Apr 2. doi:10.1186/s12889-024-18381-5

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