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CGMs: Is the hype surrounding CGMs justified?


CGM's Continuous Glucose Monitors - Are they worth it?  | Healthology Hub London Nutritionist

Let's take a closer look at Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) to see if they live up to the hype. From transforming how we manage diabetes to their potential in offering personalised health insights, CGMs have garnered significant attention in the health and wellness sphere. In this blog, we'll uncover the truth behind the buzz surrounding CGMs and evaluate their true worth in enhancing our understanding of metabolic health and optimising well-being.

What are CGMs?

CGMs are small wearable devices that track glucose levels continuously throughout the day and night. Unlike traditional finger-prick tests, CGMs provide real-time data, giving users a comprehensive picture of how their bodies respond to food, exercise, stress, and medication.

How do CGMs work?

These devices use a tiny sensor inserted under the skin to measure glucose levels in the interstitial fluid (the fluid between cells). This sensor communicates wirelessly with a receiver or smartphone, providing instant feedback on blood sugar trends and patterns.

The Benefits of CGMs:


  1. Improved Diabetes Management: For those with diabetes, CGMs offer a proactive approach to managing blood sugar levels. By providing real-time data, users can make informed decisions about insulin dosing, diet, and lifestyle choices, leading to better glycaemic control and reduced risk of complications.

  2. Insight into Metabolic Health: CGMs aren't just for diabetics. They offer valuable insights into how different foods, activities, and stressors affect blood sugar levels in non-diabetic individuals as well. This information can empower people to make healthier choices and prevent metabolic issues before they arise.

  3. Personalised Nutrition and Fitness: Armed with data from CGMs, individuals can tailor their nutrition and exercise routines to optimize blood sugar control and overall well-being. Whether it's experimenting with meal timing, adjusting macronutrient ratios, or fine-tuning workout intensity, CGMs provide valuable feedback to support personalised health goals.

  4. Continuous Monitoring: The beauty of CGMs lies in their continuous monitoring capability. Instead of sporadic snapshots of blood sugar levels, users get a comprehensive view of their metabolic status throughout the day and night, enabling them to detect trends, identify triggers, and take proactive steps to maintain optimal health.

Challenges and Considerations:

While CGMs offer numerous benefits, they also come with some challenges and considerations:

  1. Cost: CGMs can be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover them. However, the potential health benefits and long-term cost savings associated with better diabetes management may outweigh the initial investment for many individuals.

  2. Accuracy: While CGMs provide valuable insights, they may not always perfectly correlate with blood glucose levels measured by traditional finger-prick tests. Factors such as sensor calibration, sensor placement, and interstitial fluid lag time can affect accuracy.

  3. Comfort and Wearability: Some users may find wearing a CGM sensor uncomfortable or inconvenient. However, advancements in sensor technology have led to smaller, more discreet devices that are increasingly comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Understanding HbA1c and Blood Glucose Readings:

HbA1c Readings Explained:

HbA1c, or glycated haemoglobin, is a measure of average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months. Here's what different HbA1c readings indicate:

  • 42mmol/mol to 47mmol/mol: This range suggests prediabetes, indicating insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • 48mmol/mol and above: According to NICE guidelines, HbA1c levels of 48mmol/mol or higher indicate type 2 diabetes.

  • Action Threshold: In my practice, I've found it beneficial to take action when HbA1c levels surpass 38mmol/mol. By implementing nutritional and lifestyle changes at this stage, we can effectively mitigate the risks associated with elevated glycated haemoglobin levels and prevent the onset of serious health complications. Furthermore, if there's a family history of metabolic concerns, it highlights the importance of taking proactive measures.


Blood Glucose Readings Explained:

Blood glucose readings provide real-time information about our body's glucose levels. Here's what different readings signify:

  • Morning Fasting Glucose (Non-Diabetics): Ideally, morning fasting glucose levels should fall between 4mmol/L and 5.4mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL) for individuals without diabetes.

  • Prediabetes Range: Fasting glucose levels of 5.5 to 6.9 mmol/L (100 to 125 mg/dL) may indicate prediabetes, signalling impaired glucose tolerance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Diabetes Threshold: Fasting glucose levels of 7.0 mmol/L or higher (126 mg/dL or more) suggest diabetes and warrant further evaluation and management.

By understanding and monitoring these key metrics, we can take proactive steps to manage our metabolic health, prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes, and ultimately, lead healthier, more vibrant lives. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to safeguarding our wellbeing.  



My thoughts on CGMs in Health Management:

It's essential to recognise that while CGMs offer valuable insights into blood sugar dynamics, they're just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to holistic health assessment.

As a practitioner, I frequently utilise CGMs with my clients to gain a deeper understanding of their individual blood sugar responses to various factors like food, exercise, and stress. However, it's crucial to acknowledge their limitations.


CGMs provide a detailed report of blood glucose fluctuations, enabling us to make informed decisions about dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Yet, they don't provide a complete picture of metabolic health. For instance, CGM data doesn't capture the intricacies of insulin activity or reflect factors such as stress levels and sleep quality, which significantly impact blood sugar regulation.


Another potential drawback of using CGMs is the risk of becoming overly fixated on the data, potentially leading to overly restrictive diets. This is a crucial aspect to consider before investing in a CGM, particularly if you have a history of restrictive eating patterns, disordered eating, or an eating disorder. It's important to approach CGM usage mindfully and with awareness of how it may impact your relationship with food and eating habits.


Therefore, interpreting CGM data must go hand in hand with considering other vital aspects, including symptoms and lifestyle factors. By integrating CGM insights with a comprehensive assessment of symptoms and lifestyle habits, we can develop personalised strategies that address the root causes of metabolic imbalances and promote optimal health. Ultimately, it's the synergy between technology and individualised care that leads to meaningful health outcomes for my clients.



Need further help?


If you've recently received a prediabetes or type 2 diabetes diagnosis and are ready to take proactive steps towards better health, I'm here to help. My tailored sessions address factors impacting blood sugar levels, affecting energy, sleep, immune function, and more.


These sessions are beneficial if you're experiencing blood sugar dysregulation, such as post-meal fatigue or energy crashes, sugar cravings, or aiming to prevent metabolic issues.  Book in for a complimentary 15 minute Discovery call, where we can discuss the available options and how I can support you on your health journey.



 

Rakhi Lad | Registered Nutritional Therapist London

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hi! I'm Rakhi and I am a registered nutritional therapist and lifestyle medicine practitioner based in Ealing, London.


Rather than plastering over your symptoms, I help you to deal with your health issues by addressing the root causes and supporting you towards improved health from the inside-out.


Feel free to take a look around my website or start your journey towards better wellbeing & vitality by getting in touch for a free consultation.

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