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Human Gas Gauge

Optimal Health 

Article by Dr. Michael Kay, DPT,

Photography by Unsplash Images

Research is rarely done on healthy people. Why? Because research on disease gets funded. Healthy people are left out and are often left wondering if they are making the correct choices. If you start to feel “not yourself”, but don’t fall within the medical model standard of disease, then all you are left with is an internet guru selling his 10 step plan to detox your adrenals. According to the current medical model, if you are within 95% of the population for a certain test, then you are considered normal. Even more ridiculous is that some States define their own normal. So, I may have diabetes in New York but not Wisconsin. How are we supposed to know what healthy is, or better yet, thriving?

Take for example blood sugar regulation. Blood sugar is a big deal. It will have a significant effect on your overall wellness. A common test done to check blood sugar regulation is HbA1C, which is a measure of damage to a red blood cell during their lifespan. The problem is that there is a ton of variability in how long a person’s red blood cells may live. This tends to produce false highs and lows, and is a small, very reactive picture of an extremely complex situation.

How do we get more proactive? Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) can give us real time information to look under the hood. This allows for observation in the big pillars of overall performance. Those being Nutrition, Workout, and Sleep.

  • Picture this, a CEO of a major corporation has a big presentation for prospective new clients. He wants to be fresh, clear minded, and energetic. The meeting is at 1pm, right after lunch. This is a time at which, he has consistently felt sluggish. He has visited his doctor, but all his blood tests have been within standard range so he just chalks it up to being “normal”. Maybe a quick chocolate bar gets him through – not a great solution. Fortunately, he has recently enrolled in continuous glucose monitoring which identifies that after a typical lunch of whole grain bread, organic turkey, and a bag of kettle chips his blood glucose spikes, and then comes crashing down around that 1pm hour. With the help of a professional team of nutritionists and doctors, he adopts a new option of turkey lettuce wraps and some berries. His blood glucose stays regulated, and he feels sharp for the meeting.
  • Take a professional baseball player that isn’t recovering well during post season workouts. Every morning he wakes up and does not feel refreshed, so he has a difficult time getting going for workouts. His routine blood work comes back with slight elevation in inflammatory markers, but this is normal with hard training. A CGM is prescribed and shows that his pre-workout shake spikes his blood glucose and halfway through the workout it crashes and never stabilizes. Another big find is that he is eating too close to bedtime. During sleep, his blood sugar is going up and down making it impossible to get a good night’s rest. His sleep tracker says that he is sleeping 8 hours a night, but the irritability and low glucose in the morning is a fuller, real time picture.

Those are just two examples of how utilizing a CGM can increase your performance. Unfortunately, there is no gas gauge on the human body. We must rely on subjective reports or delayed blood tests that may be distorted by any number of things. The CGM can be the gas gauge for the athlete or any business professional that needs to stay sharp to perform. CGM allows us to construct the right nutrition for you, the right workout for you, and the right sleep plan for you.

Dr. Michael Kay, DPT, Modo Bio Physiotherapist | Director of Performance at Modo Bio, Scottsdale, AZ