Today, we marvel at mobile apps that let us watch sports and movies or order food, clothes, and books on our phones, but recently I found one that has literally changed my life.
I was asked to participate in a test study for Abbott Labs (I’m not being paid) for their new FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor for diabetics, and the results have been truly astounding.
As a type 2 diabetic, my health is directly related to the amount of glucose (sugar) in my blood. High amounts of blood sugar can result in heart disease and stroke, as well as damage to eyes, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. My mother died of complications from diabetes, so advocacy and awareness have become an important part of my life, so I am always striving for new options of prevention over treatment.
Until now, diabetics have tested the amount of sugar in their blood by pricking their fingers with a device called a lancet, which draws blood placed on a diabetic test strip inserted into a small meter, which displays the glucose level. The lancet is invasive and sometimes painful, so many diabetics test only a few times a day or sometimes not at all. Standard testing times are when you wake up and go to sleep, so until now, I’ve never really had a clear understanding of what my sugar levels were throughout the day.
I now wear a FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensor (the size of a quarter) on my upper arm (below the triceps) and by simply touching it with my iPhone (they also have a scanner) it gives me an immediate blood glucose reading. The device is non-invasive and can be employed as frequently as the user wants, giving diabetics a new insight into their bodies by understanding how they react to food, exercise, medication and stress. I’ve taken readings on the subway through a heavy winter coat, while running on a treadmill, and after drinking a glass of bourbon at my favorite steakhouse.
The iPhone app allows me to make detailed notes about what took place (food, exercise, stress) prior to or during the reading. Surprisingly, I’ve found that lifting weights lowers my glucose levels as much if not more than aerobic exercise and broccoli has a magical lowering effect while cheese sends my numbers to the stratosphere, as does stress, so I’m not going to let a missed subway or an annoying neighbor upset me anymore.
After ten days of using the FreeStyle Libre I’ve noticed my pants are looser, so the device is certainly helping me. I have always been a vocal advocate for prevention, and knowing what’s happening to my body minute by minute has enabled me to be more diligent.
As more technological advancements are made, I’m looking forward to better health for me and other diabetics and I’ll report about it in this column.
Rob Taub works as a broker at CORE in NYC, where he hosts a weekly podcast. He has enjoyed an eclectic career in film, television, radio, and journalism. Rob has interviewed everyone from pop stars to presidents and has written for People Magazine, FoxNews.com, SI/Cauldron, The Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. Rob is a respected Diabetes Advocate and Obesity Ambassador, writing and speaking regularly about Type 2 diabetes and health. Follow him on Twitter @robmtaub or at RobTaub.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.