The answers vary because people are different. But for a more reliable solution, some people turn to a continuous glucose monitor.
As unlikely as it is, the growing number adopts a small flexible sensor that you can attach with a small needle to the back of your hand. The sensor is synchronized with an application that tells you in real time which foods raise your blood sugar. The device, also known as CGM, is used to treat diabetics, and beyond that the market remains small – probably for tens of thousands of users, according to two analysts.
But CGM is gaining traction in sports and technology in particular. Consumers include high-ranking athletes such as Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer and a long list of Silicon Valley founders, executives and investors, including some of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which supports one of the ventures. Last month, the headline of an article in Men̵
“We’re talking about a very new birth,” said Marisa Schluter, a senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights. But she says more than 200 companies are working on glucose detection technology.
Because blood sugar can affect your energy, focus, mood, cardiovascular system, chance of becoming diabetic and long-term health, the small patch-like device generates a lot of demand among health conscious, athletes and “well-to-do” who have not been diagnosed with nothing but fear that they may be.
Maya Bitner, 32, who works for a technology company in Bellingham, Washington, is trying to get a CGM. She has polycystic ovary syndrome, which can be symptomatic of diabetes. She is not diabetic, but fears that the high glucose levels reflected in her lab tests could “negatively affect many parts of my health.”
Over the past six months, investors have invested nearly $ 40 million in three startups that develop software for phones and watches that sync with devices made by Abbott Laboratories and Dexcom. One of the start-ups, Supersapiens, is aimed at athletes in Europe and expects to enter the US market at some point. Another, January, derived nutritional values for 16 million foods and dishes, including groceries, recipes, and restaurant menus, and used analytics to customize and predict an individual’s glycemic response. Levels Health, which targets non-diabetics, says it has a waiting list of 105,000, although the Levels app is still in beta. In addition to glucose data, these applications will add tracking indicators such as heart rate and medications taken, among other things.
Shortage may be part of demand. As this is a medical device, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the continuous glucose monitor so that it requires a prescription. If you are not diabetic, insurance will almost certainly not cover it. Many doctors will not prescribe it.
So while some people can easily get the devices, others can’t get them at all or find the price prohibitive. The sensor software package could cost $ 288 for the 90-day program in January and $ 399 for the month of levels.
Sensors that are changed every two weeks should be worn long enough to teach the user which foods to avoid, which to substitute or pair, and at what time to eat to dull the glycemic response. The price of the sensors is expected to continue to fall.
Share your thoughts
Do you use high-tech devices to track your health? If so, was it useful?
Still, some experts object to widespread surveillance, such as Dr. David Slawson, a professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are no rigorous studies to show that it improves the quality of life of healthy people and can lead to anxiety and depression, he says. “It looks very cool and the graphics are great and shiny, but the reality is that nothing improves,” he says. “We’re crazy to do that.”
But some doctors see a technological surge that they can’t reverse. If applications teach, monitors are accurate, and people are willing to pay out of pocket, “why not?” Says Dr. Silvio Inzouki, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Yale Medical Diabetes Center. “We are in the middle of an obesity epidemic.”
About 34 million American adults have diabetes. Another 88 million or more than a third of adults in the United States have prediabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies as severely high blood sugar levels that put them at risk for heart disease and stroke. And researchers have linked an increase in blood sugar or glycemic variability to an increased risk of death in people who are not diabetic. But more than 84% of prediabetics do not know they have the disease, according to the CDC.
“People say why not just read a book and eat a low-carb diet,” said Dr. Casey Mines, co-founder and chief medical officer of Levels Health. “The problem is that you and I can eat exactly the same banana, and my glucose can rise by 100 points, and you can go up by 10. The unequivocal dietary recommendations really fall away,” given the new understanding of biochemical individuality, she says.
Continuous monitoring of glucose has caused a stir on social media. As soon as Mike Davidson received his sensor in January, InVision’s vice president of design, a digital product design platform, wrote on Twitter, “I just installed a continuous glucose monitor from @Levels in my shoulder. You will eat a whole pizza right now to test it under stress. “Sweet dill and sausage pizza and a few beers raised his glucose level to 184 milligrams per deciliter from 94. Yikes,” he said, returning to normal (less than 140 mg / dl) within hours .
While Mr. Davidson received a monitor for helping Levels Health recruit, Tim Mullen, chief executive of Swift Run Capital Management in Charlottesville, Virginia, said his attempt to get one was “very disappointing.” His late father was diabetic, as was his brother and sister. Several friends recommended a monitor.
When he contacted Dexcom for a monitor, he was told he needed a prescription. The doctor told him it was not worth it, but Mr Mullen disagreed. “I mean, if there’s a huge difference between bananas and blood sugar dates … the monitor will boost good behavior,” he said in an email, adding, “Which will extend life expectancy, you’ll think.”
Write to Betsy Morris at Betsy.Morris@wsj.com
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8