WHY ARE HEALTHY PEOPLE USING WEARABLE DIABETES MONITORS?
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Picture this: You are jogging through picturesque countryside on a dirt path. You stop at a vantage point and look down at your phone. You find that your blood sugar readings are normal according to the number that flashes on screen. You smile to yourself and continue your run.
But can your phone measure your blood sugar level, and why would knowing your glucose readings in the middle of a run matter?
Understandably, measuring blood sugar levels 24 hours a day using wearable technology is an excellent tool for people with diabetes. It makes it easier to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes and shows you a bigger picture of your blood glucose levels. But do you need to keep an eye on blood sugar levels if you do not have diabetes?
Many businesses are putting a lot of effort into marketing implantable blood sugar monitors to people who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes frequently use continuous glucose monitoring systems or CGMs, but what advantages do these devices offer to people without the disease? Research has linked the risk of developing a number of diseases, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer, to chronic metabolic inflammation caused by aspects such as poor diet and physical inactivity.
The idea behind the product is that if you can "optimize" your lifestyle choices over time to prevent inflammatory and oxidative stress triggers, those small changes can add up to a healthier long-term outlook.
Read on to know why healthy people are using diabetes monitors and how they can help prevent diabetes.
What Are Diabetes Monitors?
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), or diabetes monitors, are wearable technology that makes it simpler to track blood sugar levels over time. The FDA-approved medical device periodically measures the glucose level in your blood when you have it on.
A CGM functions through a tiny sensor inserted under the skin, usually on the belly or arm. The sensor measures the interstitial glucose level, or the glucose present in the fluid between the cells. Every few minutes, the sensor measures the glucose level. The data is wirelessly transmitted to a monitor.
You might carry the monitor in your pocket or purse as a separate item or as a component of an insulin pump. Some CGMs deliver data directly to a tablet or smartphone. The American Diabetes Association's product guide lists a number of models that are currently in production.
Benefits Of Diabetes Monitors
Many factors, such as your lifestyle, the sports you play, and the food you eat, can affect your blood sugar levels. In addition, it is common for a substance or an activity to have a varied effect on different people's glucose levels.
With a CGM, your glucose level is always visible at a glance. However, to spot trends, you can also observe how your glucose levels fluctuate over a few hours or days. Your ability to balance your diet, physical activity, and medications throughout the day will improve if you can see your glucose levels in real-time.
Whether you are showering, exercising, working, or sleeping, CGMs are constantly recording your blood sugar levels. In addition, many CGMs have unique functions that use data from your glucose readings, such as:
- An alarm may go off when your blood glucose levels are too low or too high.
- A CGM device also records your meals, exercise, medications, and blood glucose levels.
- The data can be downloaded to a computer or smart device to see your glucose trends more easily.
Is It Meaningful To Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Without Diabetes?
It may seem strange for a healthy person to wear a diabetes monitoring device. Still, in the quantified self movement, tracking one's blood sugar makes sense, especially in light of the recent focus on the dangers of excessive sugar consumption and processed carbohydrates, which triggers diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Your body can be unpredictable at times. Even medical professionals are occasionally unable to fully comprehend a reaction that your body may experience. The monitor can provide insights into the fallouts of your decisions, shedding light on why you feel fantastic on some days and not others.
With a diabetes monitor, you will be fascinated to learn how blood sugar levels change after eating different foods, which may influence healthier dietary choices. It may also help you deal with stress (that causes spikes in blood sugar), which will be detected by the diabetes monitor.
Additionally, it may encourage people to consider exercising after meals. For example, you will experience "profound" drops in blood sugar while taking walks, which is known to help with blood sugar regulation. Therefore, if you eat and notice your blood sugar rising, go for a walk; it works like magic.
The research, however, is limited at this time, and most of the evidence is not surprising. For example, this 2019 multicenter study found that 96% of the time, blood sugar levels were normal or nearly normal in 153 healthy non-diabetic adults, children, and non-pregnant women. Many of the abnormal levels were thought to be an error or implausible.
Similarly, another pilot study from 2020 examined the use of CGM devices to motivate physical activity in obese and overweight adults. The participants did not have diabetes and had sedentary lifestyles. Participants used a CGM device and an activity tracker for ten days and completed counseling about how physical activity affects blood sugar levels. Following that, they claimed to feel more inspired to work out.
And regarding safety, although it is unlikely that the devices would result in any significant safety issues beyond potential injection site rashes or infections, this has not been researched in people without diabetes.
Can A Diabetes Monitor Prevent Diabetes?
Wearing a smartwatch or fitness band to track steps and calorie intake is the main form of fitness technology available to the general public. Unfortunately, while fitness trackers can encourage people to lead active lives, they do not necessarily offer helpful information about your body.
Now, imagine a tiny sensor permanently affixed to your body that constantly informs you of the best times to exercise, eat, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Experts predict that CGM blood sugar monitoring will soon become the norm. With the promise of enhancing metabolic health, increasing energy levels, and obtaining a personalized road map to better health, a new wave of digital health companies are providing consumers with an unusual way to change how they eat.
For quantified health startups, this is a novel and developing area of focus. It appears to hold promise in providing personally beneficial health insights, which, given enough data, might scale in utility and assist in enabling many others to make healthier personal lifestyle decisions.
By paying close attention to blood sugar levels, you can avoid or even reverse chronic inflammation that could, over time, lead to a metabolic disorder such as diabetes. In addition, you may often be surprised to learn about the hidden sugar content in your food or the impact of exercise and stress on your blood glucose levels.
Diabetes monitors, like Ultrahuman, function like a live fuel (or glucose, in this case) meter for your body. It takes into account blood sugar readings to demonstrate how stressed you are, whether your body requires food right away due to a drop in blood glucose, or whether you can skip a meal when your body has enough blood glucose. Insights that guide lifestyle modifications involving your diet, exercise, and sleep habits can also benefit healthy individuals.
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- Shah, Viral N et al. “Continuous Glucose Monitoring Profiles in Healthy Nondiabetic Participants: A Multicenter Prospective Study.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 104,10 (2019): 4356-4364. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-02763
- Liao, Yue et al. “Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring to Motivate Physical Activity in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Pilot Study.” Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology vol. 29,4 (2020): 761-768. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-0906
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