Want to change your health in 2019, lose weight and feel better? I of all people did not think I would be writing this blog and was skeptical but here’s a game changer for those who are serious about changing their health and it starts with a little sensor called the Freestyle Libre.
I had heard about the Libre and similar technology at the Diabetes Technology conference in Paris in 2012 and it finally came out a few weeks ago in the United States. Just a note that I have received nothing from Abbott Labs who makes the sensor and I got a prescription from my own physician since I wanted to try it with an unbiased mind.
The Freestyle Libre is by prescription only and it cost me $100 for the scanner and 2 sensors (which last 2 weeks each). The second time I renewed the prescription it was only $35 for both sensors for one month.
The Libre is a snap to install – put it on the back of your arm, scan with an app on your phone or use the sensor provided any time of the day or night you want to know what your glucose number is. It takes about 12 hours for accuracy as it has to become acclimated to your body.
What does it measure exactly? Let’s start with a little physiology lesson. When you measure a fingerstick for glucose on a glucometer you are measuring “blood glucose” and the Libre measures glucose in the “interstitial fluid” – a thin layer that surrounds the cells of the tissues below your skin, which is usually 5-15 points higher than the fingerstick.
A few of my patients tried the sensor and were amazed at the knowledge of what it taught them and they altered their food accordingly. I decided to try it myself, but since I am not diabetic I did not think it would make that much of a difference in changing my food…but I was sorely wrong on that front. There is a lot of flexibility in setting parameters for what you want your goals to be, seeing charts for ranges, etc.
I set my goal at 70-120 mg/dl. which is the range for normal glucose levels.
After using the Libre for 4 weeks this is what I learned:
- My body only needs food every 5 hours (as opposed to my usual 3-4 hours). How did I find this out? I watched my glucose go up after eating (usually it is 2 hours but for me it is 3-4 hours) and waited for it to calm down. When I changed this I was much less interested in food and could focus more on other things.
Translation:when you wait till your glucose drops down after eating it allows your gut to go through the “cleaning cycle,” (the full cycle of digestion) a statement coined by Mark Pimental, MD, one of the world’s experts in complicated gut issues at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. The benefit of knowing this is that your pancreas does not over-secrete insulin which lowers all forms of inflammation and helps your body to tap into fat stores, besides getting your body ready for the next meal.
- My body can only handle the usual 25-30 grams of carbs at breakfast but for lunch and dinner only about 20-25 grams at most. Hence, I am eating my fruit in the morning and sticking to mostly veggies/salad at my other meals.
- Physiologically my body does not need all that much food. If I eat till satiation my glucose stays within my range. Even 1-2 bites past satiation increases my levels.
- If I kept to the above my glucose stayed in range, my bloating completely stopped, my actual weight dropped a few pounds and surprisingly…my once a week headaches lessened – a nice surprise.
- I learned my body is more insulin resistant that I realized and I need to work within my genetics and menopausal metabolism.
Jeffrey even decided to give it a go (with some reluctance) since he saw how much self-knowledge I had gleamed.
If you want great insight into how your body metabolizes food, how often to eat, how many carbs your body is actually able to handle this is a very affordable option for learning. Save yourself the weight-loss gimmicks and crazy diets and ask your doctor for a prescription. The lessons you learn are definitely not “free” but you will learn how to be free of diabetes and other inflammatory disorders that stem from higher insulin or glucose levels.
Although the Freestyle Libre was intended for those with diabetes, I believe it is equally useful for those with insulin resistance, and/or have inflammatory or gastrointestinal conditions. The little sensor provides hope that you and your household can be healthier in 2019.