Why Wear a CGM?

Taylor Fazio, MS, RD, CDN

Wearing a CGM can give you a metabolic report card to help tailor your diet.

Old Rule: a calorie is a calorie. New Rule: what we consume uniquely impacts our metabolic health. And for the most part, optimizing the factors that play into glucose control is more important than simply counting calories.

Today, the best way to assess metabolic health is leveraging data provided by a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). CGMs are wearable medical devices that capture subcutaneous fluid and report blood sugar (glucose) data to a device or smartphone in real time. This instantaneous feedback lets those monitoring blood sugar make proactive and preventative lifestyle and dietary changes to keep glucose stable. For a long time, CGMs were exclusively used by patients with diabetes to manage blood sugar and prevent hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia (high and low blood sugar, respectively). But the use of CGMs by non-diabetic patients is on the rise, as the conversation around blood sugar and metabolic health has moved to the forefront of the longevity community. 

Metabolic health refers to the body’s ability to react to food intake, produce hormones, and source energy to cells. Metabolism dysfunction is a precursor to many leading chronic diseases, and yet little is done in traditional medicine to prevent this decline. This holds even more importance given 50% of Americans have imbalances in blood sugar and 88% have poor metabolic health. Though 35% of the population is pre-diabetic, 84% of that group don't know it. Blood sugar management is an essential pillar to optimal long-term health. 

The consistent data captured by CGMs allows us to understand an individual's metabolic health and create a personalized road map to optimize lifestyle and dietary habits. Managing blood sugar goes beyond preventing nutrition-related diseases like diabetes. In fact, stable glucose levels have been seen to improve mood, boost energy levels, assist with weight loss, help with skin health, and prevent wrinkles. Glucose levels have an impact on long-term health issues like heart disease, sexual health, immune function, memory, exercise performance, fertility, and lower risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, cancer, fatty liver disease, heart disease, and stroke. 

There are other ways to measure blood glucose, like finger prick tests or A1C levels, but these only give us either a snapshot of time or a 3-month average, respectively, of blood sugar levels. What these tests cannot assess is glucose variability — the amount blood sugar increases in response to food or activity. The greater the glycemic excursions, the more risk for metabolic diseases like insulin resistance. CGM feedback encourages direct action to mitigate rising glucose levels.

Wearing a CGM can give you a metabolic report card to help tailor your diet. Everyone's body metabolizes food in a unique way. Studies have found that two people consuming the exact same meal can have opposite post-meal reactions; this is dependent on several factors including genetics, fitness levels, stress, sleep, and even other foods eaten that day. A CGM will show glucose response after every meal so you can see for yourself how various factors affect your body’s response. From there, you can adjust lifestyle and dietary influences to help flatten your glucose curve. 

Stabilizing glucose levels looks different for everyone, but as a general rule of thumb, here are my top three tips to keep blood sugar stable:

  1. Balance meals with protein, healthy fats, and fiber-dense, whole-food carbohydrates. Together these components will stabilize post-meal blood sugar.
  2. Limit refined carbohydrates from processed foods in your overall diet. These include sugar-sweetened beverages, pastries, candies, chips, white breads, and more.
  3. Add movement consistently throughout the day. From a 5 minute stretch to a long run, constantly moving your body stabilizes blood sugar.

The Lanby’s Lead Physician can prescribe CGMs to our members* to help provide health and metabolism feedback. Members can also purchase CGMs directly through our partnerships with Levels and Signos

*within the NYC metropolitan area