Could a wearable device help you lose weight by listening to your gut? The answer for Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, is a hopeful maybe.
Spiegel is the inventor of a wearable device being dubbed the “Fitbit” for the stomach. Spiegel and a team of researchers are hoping AbStats, the wearable device, will ultimately help patients lose weight. AbStats gives doctors greater insight into their patients’ gut activity through a wearable system that sits on the stomach.
According to marketing material, the device may one day replace more invasive procedures like endoscopy. The device, called AbStats, was invented by Spiegel and uses sensors to record gut sounds when the stomach is digesting food and at rest.
Spiegel tells Newsmax Health that AbStats will flash green, yellow or red to tell users when it’s the right time to eat.
“Brain fog, haziness, concentration problems can be caused be any number of things but diet contributes in many cases,” Spiegel says.
He explains that the process of eating and digesting is a neuro-hormonal event.
“It’s a carefully calibrated process where the body is firing off nervous signals and hormones in an orchestrated sequence of events. If it’s disrupt by bad habit then the body doesn’t know how to handle it and breaks down in different ways,” says Spiegel.
Fiabetes and metabolic syndrome are consequences of overeating or eating too quickly – something that AbStats’ designers hope the device can help correct.
“What we’ve come to learn is that it’s not just the amount of calories you eat but when and how quickly you eat them,” says Spiegel.
“There’s evidence that if you eat quickly you’re more likely to gain weight than if you were to distribute the same amount of calories over a longer length of time. The body has adapted to eat a certain way. We override our natural rhythms constantly.”
Spiegel says sometimes it’s about slowing down and spreading your calories out. AbStats, he says, is essentially a speedometer for the gut.
“Obesity is a complicated problem and it’s usually a disconnect between the mind and body,” he notes “It’s rare that we respect the rhythm of the mind/body connection. Rarely do we eat actually because we’re hungry. Americans don’t really feel hunger that often. We don’t have a good sense of what’s happening in our body.”
He hopes that AbStats can get people back and trained with the natural rhythms of digestion.
“It turns out as your digesting food the intestines make sounds and what AbStats does is it measures the frequency of those sounds and vibrations. Your intestinal rate becomes a new vital sign. The device measures how quickly intestines are churning and digesting,” says Spiegel.
Spiegel says the initial application of AbStats was for patients post-op to determine when they were able to feed after an operation.
“We haven’t proven that it can allow people to lose weight yet,” he notes. “What we have shown is that if you eat more food, you make more sounds and AbStats can hear those sounds. In the long run we’re hoping to use biofeedback to change behavior.”
Spiegel tells Newsmax Health that those with BMIs (Body Mass Indexes) over roughly 28 to 30 should start seeking care.
“It’s vital to get care early for those developing glucose intolerance and diabetes. Fatty liver disease is a public health hazard right now. Start changing your diet early and often,” he says.
AbStats is currently available in research centers and hospitals only, but Spiegel is hoping to introduce a smaller version to the community in the next 12 months.
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