Dr Casey Means is the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Levels Health, a med tech company that provides closed-loop continuous glucose monitoring to help people optimize their diets and so much more.
As Dr Means points out, eating the right food isn't sufficient. Whether a particular whole, plant food – say, a banana, a sweet potato, or bunch of grapes – will spike your glucose to a dangerously high level depends also on the time of day, what you're paring it with, your level of stress at that moment, how active you are physically, any environmental toxins that might be disrupting your metabolism, and the state of your microbiome.
Levels Health's monitor is the size of a stack of two quarters, attaches to the back of your upper arm, and tells your smartphone about your glucose level and heart rate every 15 minutes.
With this information, you can literally see how different foods and activities affect your blood sugar levels.
And blood sugar levels are highly predictive of long-term metabolic and overall health. Spikes and wide swings are not good for us, and lead in the short term to fatigue and mood swings, and inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and dementia in the long term.
As a behaviorist, I love how that kind of hard, objective, instantaneous data can help us change behavior. Sure, sugar may make me fat in a month and sick in a year, but when it spikes my blood glucose in 10 minutes, that's when I'm motivated to do something about it.
In our conversation, I pitched all the hardball questions I could think of:
- What about carnivores who avoid all carbohydrates and could interpret their results as positive even if they're killing themselves?
- Isn't the root problem that humans are disconnected from nature? So how will more technology move us in the direction of natural health?
- What if the optimal diet for an individual isn't the best thing for animals, or the planet?
Dr Means not only handled them, but converted me to a believer. Her vision for instantaneous, closed-loop data actually holds the promise of moving us back in the direction of natural human movement, reduced pollutants and pesticides, less animal consumption (especially from factory farms pumping out antibiotic- and hormone- and pesticide-laden meat and dairy), and healthier soil and more regenerative agricultural practices.
Because health is holographic. You can't have a healthy skin cell on the pinky of your right hand if you have a systemic disease in your entire body. And we can't be healthy individuals within a diseased ecosystem, on an overburdened planet.
Given that according to a recent UNC study, fully 88% of the US adult population suffers from at least one metabolic dysfunction, there's a huge existing market for the device, which is currently available only via prescription. (Although they are running a public beta, which allows regular old consumers to sign up for the service directly from Levels Health website. Here's a link that allows you, as a loyal Plant Yourself listener, to cut in front of 60,000 people on the wait list and get yours now.)
But the real potential game changer here is for the monitor to become as ubiquitous as FitBit – showing millions of people that the moment-to-moment choices they make immediately and significantly determine their metabolic health.
As the Levels Health blog reminds us, “Metabolism is Life.”
Get your own Levels Health Continuous Glucose Monitor (and skip the 60,000 person waiting list) – NOT an affiliate link
Dr Means' Official Bio
Casey Means, MD is a Stanford-trained physician, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder of metabolic health company Levels, and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention. Her mission is to maximize human potential and reverse the epidemic of preventable chronic disease by empowering individuals with tech-enabled tools that can inform smart, personalized, and sustainable dietary and lifestyle choices.
Dr. Means’s perspective has been recently featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Techcrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Hill, Metabolism, Endocrine Today, and more. She is an award-winning biomedical researcher, with past research positions at the NIH, Stanford School of Medicine, and NYU.
You CAN Change Other People!
Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.
What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.
Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.
Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
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