Should you be using CGM to prevent type 2 diabetes?

Published on: 10/28/2022
person wearing Libre sensor and using phone app

CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) can be a powerful tool to prevent type 2 diabetes and is becoming more and more popular. 

If you are not familiar with CGM you may have seen commercials for Freestyle Libre or Dexcom. These are 2 of the more popular companies making CGM systems. 

You can check out a previous blog of mine that talks about how sensors can be a game changer for getting better blood sugars. You will get an introduction to how they work, how to get a CGM for yourself, and the company websites. 

Plus, I share pictures of my Libre CGM results in different scenarios.  

But just to highlight a couple common questions . . . the sensors I am talking about are not implanted and no needle stays in your body. They are very easy to put on and use. 

But in this article I want to talk more about why CGM can help you PREVENT TYPE 2 DIABETES. 

My opinion from professional and personal experience is that anyone who is at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes should use CGM, at least occasionally, if they want to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? 

Could you be one of the 80+ million people in the US who have prediabetes? 

Check the risk factors below. 

The more risk factors you have, the higher the chance you are developing or will have type 2 diabetes down the road.  

  • Age 45 or older
  • Have Prediabetes
  • Have a parent or sister or brother with type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight 
  • Inactive
  • Have had GDM or had a baby over 9 pounds

Also consider heart problems or fatty liver as reasons to have blood sugar checked. These health problems are often associated with type 2 diabetes as well.

Once you have prediabetes there is a very good chance of going on to type 2 diabetes over the next 5-10 years. 

You might be thinking “Why should I be concerned with preventing diabetes? Won’t my doctor tell me if there’s a problem with my blood sugars?”  

There are several problems I have seen with that mindset. 

What you don’t know CAN hurt you. Sugar in the blood goes to every part of the body. Your body does need some sugar for energy, but the extra that you don’t need will wear on your body over time. 

When you see your doctor for a physical, a fasting glucose (medical term for blood sugar) is part of routine blood work. Of course, that’s IF you go to the doctor for regular physicals. Even so, just getting a fasting blood sugar level tells you what your blood sugar level is only on that day at that particular time your blood was drawn. 

So you could have a fasting blood sugar level in the normal range (70-99) that day but have other days where it is above normal.

Plus, too often,  I have seen or heard the call from the doctor’s office after finding a fasting glucose in the prediabetes range (100-125). It often goes something like . . . 

“Your blood sugar is a little higher than normal but not in the type 2 diagnosis range. Your doctor is recommending you cut out sweets, eat smaller portions, lose some weight, and exercise. “

The next recommendation should be a referral to an expert in diabetes and nutrition (a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care & education specialist) 

That referral often does not happen and then what do you do? Probably start searching for weight loss diets online, or maybe just give up and ignore the advice altogether?

“I feel fine so my blood sugars must be okay.”

Don’t rely on “I feel fine”. Most people don’t feel different until their blood sugars are in the 200’s or 300’s, or even higher.

As I have mentioned, diabetes usually develops slowly, over about a 10 year span. Most people don’t know they have type 2 diabetes until blood sugars are high, unless you are intentionally being proactive with your health or are in a wellness program focused on disease prevention. 

Taking steps to know your blood sugar now could catch higher than normal blood sugars years before you would develop type 2 diabetes. That could delay or even prevent diabetes diagnosis completely. 

The earlier you catch blood sugars creeping up, the more time you have to change your eating and activity habits  – the better your chance of preventing type 2 diabetes, maybe completely!

How can CGM help you prevent diabetes? 

A continuous glucose monitor does just what the name says. It continuously measures your blood sugar. The really useful part is that you can see your blood sugar level by just scanning or looking at the monitor. 

Here are a few helpful times to know your blood sugar: 

  • how high it goes after meals, especially comparing high and low carb meals
  • after different activities such as walking, cleaning house or exercise class
  • In the morning you can look back at what your blood sugar did during the night when you were sleeping

How do you get started with CGM?

Here are the basic steps for getting the Libre CGM for diabetes prevention. Dexcom is a great product also but not nearly as affordable when you are paying cash instead of going through insurance. In my experience, insurance does not often cover sensors for prediabetes. 

  1. You can get started for free on a Libre 3, (probably the most affordable out of pocket sensor). Here is the link for their  Get Started with the MyFreeStyle program
  2. Get educated on how to start using CGM. The freestyle website has video instructions or you can work with your local diabetes expert. 
  3. Get help interpreting your results from a health professional experienced in CGM, such as an RDN/CDCES coach. 

In my coaching program, CGM, nutrition and activity are the 3 main pieces of the puzzle that help reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes. 

You can schedule a call with me to discuss more about how my program could help you prevent or reverse diabetes. 

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Thanks for visiting my blog!

I’m Karen, a diabetes nutrition specialist who is passionate about fighting diabetes for my clients, my family, and myself.

I hope you find food ideas and answers to some of your questions here in my articles. But if you are looking for more personalized help with nutrition or diabetes please check out my services page.

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