Why did I purchase the Nutrisense CGM? Am I diabetic? No. Am I pre-diabetic? I don’t think so. But I am always curious about what is happening inside my human. If I have any conditions that might cut me down or greatly reduce my quality of life, then I’d like to know.
So when I saw that buying a continuous glucose monitor was getting easier and easier, even if still on the expensive side, I decided to jump in and sign up for a two week trial.
For years now I have dabbled with finger pricks with those over the counter blood glucose kits to see how certain foods effected me, how high my glucose levels would spike, and then how quickly they would fall. Margaritas, for instance, seem to shoot my blood sugar pretty high!
So does instant oatmeal, shown above, yikes, might be time to try old-fashioned steel cut oats or drop oatmeal all together! But the full range of data shown above is the kind of data you get from a CGM that you don’t get from the occasional finger prick.
My guess is that in the coming years, CGMs will get even easier to acquire, and less expensive. But as of now you need a Dr.’s prescription, which Nutrisense takes care of for you. But in other parts of the world, you can buy continuous glucose monitors over the counter, which is where I think we will eventually end up here in the US, just not as quickly as I would like.
The CGM arrives in a little capsule, described as looking like the “Help Button” from those commercials, and it really is quite easy, and painless, to install. It took me just a few minutes to read, and reread, the instructions to make sure I didn’t hurt myself or damage the device.
You press the installation “button” onto the back of one of your arms, it clicks, and boom, that’s it, didn’t even hurt. The finger prick glucose method hurts worse than this did.
Nutrisense recommends that you wait until the work week to place your CGM on your arm, so that their help desk can assist if you have any questions. I did not. It arrived on a Saturday, and I waited all the way to Sunday before going for it.
They also warn you that it will take around a day for the device to self calibrate and that the readings you get may not be very accurate that first day. In my case, it seemed that it took a little longer to settle out, maybe closer to 36 hours before the values I was seeing on my Nutrisense CGM were somewhat aligned with my Keto Mojo glucose monitor.
Throughout my two weeks with Nutrisense I continued to perform periodic checks of my glucose levels using my finger prick kit. Sometimes it matched up pretty well with my CGM, and other times, it did not. In the morning, the two values were often within 5-8 points of each other. But once or twice in the evening, as I was cooking dinner, and snacking while cooking, and/or having a cocktail, the difference between my readings could sometimes spread to 20+ points, which obviously is not helpful.
One caveat that is super important to understand, especially if you are considering your own CGM, is that a finger prick and CGM are actually measuring glucose level in different places and in a different way. So it is a little unfair, and unproductive, to expect them to be the exact same reading, at the exact same time.
Obviously a finger prick is designed to draw blood, which you then place onto your glucose strip and your little hand held device should provide your blood glucose level. But if you took blood from somewhere else in your body, say your thigh for instance, you would likely get a little different result.
So not only is the Nutrisense CGM designed to be placed on the back of your arm, and not on your finger tips, it also doesn’t read the glucose levels in your blood. Instead, the device is designed with a very small filament that rests in between your skin cells, not even making it deep enough to draw blood. It reads the glucose levels in your interstitial fluids, and as such, the readings and trends that you’ll see with your CGM are roughly 30 minutes behind what you would find with a traditional finger prick system.
CGM Data and Graphs
The Nutrisense CGM comes with access to a phone app to showcase all of the data and graphs that automatically get calculated for you each time you update your device, which should be at least once every eight hours, but for me it was way more often than that!
It wasn’t until well into my second week of use, with only a few days of useful life left in my CGM, that I learned about many of the most interesting data points provided in the app, which were helpfully explained by the dietician who is included in the price of the CGM!
She checked in with me most every day, answering all of my questions and taking a peek at my data to make sure I was on track and not allowing my blood sugar levels to get too high, or too low.
For the first week I had the CGM I tried out a few foods that I was pretty sure would wreck my glucose levels, just to see in real time what was happening. Yes, highly processed food shot my blood sugar levels highly very quickly. The good news is that I am in pretty decent shape, glucose-wise, and my levels came down pretty quickly as well.
The second week with the device, I wanted to see what happens with the meals I cook at home, no restaurants, including a few meals that would mean trouble eating out, but I really didn’t know what their impact might be if I cooked them up from scratch at home using my everyday ingredients.
Turns out my morning coffee loaded down with all sorts of supplements and add-ons, including a little coconut oil, was way worse for my glucose levels than I ever would have suspected, rising to between 120 and 130 most mornings I tried.
And the pizza and fried chicken experiments didn’t affect my sugar levels nearly as dramatically as I had been scared, also in the 120-130 range. I had been worried about crossing over the 140 threshold with those two meals!
One of the cooler features of the Nutrisense app was that it seamlessly integrated with a few of my devices. First, I have an Apple iWatch and if you use the Workout feature or app on the watch, that will automatically show up on your Nutrisense app!
For instance, I walk my dog almost every morning for about 15-20 minutes which turns out to be just over a mile. If I start my watch app, and remember to mark the end of the walk, that physical exercise will show up on my Nutrisense app and I can then track how a little exercise will drop my blood sugar pretty dramatically.
The visual of seeing my walk show up on the app and my blood sugar dropping right afterwards is pretty reinforcing, it is pretty black and white.
I can also see how different types of exercise affect my body, as an easy walk looks very different on the graph than a workout at the gym with heavy weights, which will raise my glucose a little for the duration of the workout, and then level off afterwards.
I also have an Oura ring, to help me track the quality of my sleep, and lately to participate in a Covid detection experiment using that same data from users all over the country. But my sleep activity was also automatically imported and crossed with my glucose, so that it is easy to see my high and low glucose levels during my sleep.
Nutrisense Meal Cards
One last item I’d like to address about the Nutrisense CGM, that I really didn’t take full advantage of, is their Meal Card feature. If you want you can enter each meal, snack, drink or dessert including a picture and the macro nutrient break down if you know it. And if you don’t know and don’t mind spending a few extra minutes with the app, a library is included to scroll through and find the closest approximation of your meal.
That meal will then be mapped onto your sugar levels, with a two hour data summary included. The picture above is from my homemade pizza night, along with an adult beverage and a breakdown of what happened inside my body during the two hours after I started eating.
I logged my meals as I began them as opposed to ending them, I don’t know if there is a right or wrong, but that was my method. At this time I’m not super interested in tracking my macros, so I didn’t, but was pretty interested in seeing my blood glucose data.
As you can see, I took a picture of my meal, and then the app did the rest. It waited two hours from when I entered the meal and then found my lowest glucose level, my highest glucose level, the difference or Delta between the two, and also the AUC or area under the curve with a lower number being better than a higher number.
So instead of sticking my finger with a needle every fifteen minutes after a meal to accurately track my sugar levels, this app did all the work for me! Except for eating, I got to do that all on my own.
Would I order one again, or sign up for monthly delivery? If I were diabetic, absolutely. I would imagine seeing the real time numbers showing how my diet alters my blood sugar levels, and exactly how high or low my glucose is would be virtually priceless.
For someone who is either significantly overweight or diabetic it may be as simple as eating only food that keep blood sugar levels low and manageable.
I have a few pounds I’d like to lose, but as fun as cool as this device is, I don’t think it would be very helpful for that purpose, for me. I am fully capable of eating too much while still keeping my blood sugar levels down, so it was really a fun experimentation into learning more about myself and how my body functions.
I also really like the idea of checking in every now and then, the same way I do with a blood panel, to check and see how my glucose levels are acting. Has my variability gone up or done since I last ran a two week experiment? What about my mean glucose levels over those two weeks?
I don’t see myself as a likely candidate for wearing a CGM all day every day, but pretty sure I will be adding the NutriSense CGM to my once or twice a year tool kit to check in and make sure I don’t allow my glucose to get out of control and start creeping up towards diabetic levels.