MT. PLEASANT. MICH. — Tom Idema's office is surrounded by model planes.
“He flew the A6-Intruder over Vietnam. He flew over 300 missions over there,” said Idema.
The model planes were built by his father. Now they transform his office at Central Michigan University into a miniature airfield, but it's not the only transformation in his life.
“When I started the program I was 320 pounds," Idema said, “We blew right through the 300-pound mark without much difficulty which was really motivating.”
Idema has lost 86 pounds since January of 2021. He did it with the help of an app offered through his company's health insurance plan.
“We found people had very personal, very unique blood glucose responses to meals. We developed an algorithm that based on clinical data and microbiome data could actually tailor the diets to the individual,” said Eran Segal, the co-founder of DayTwo.
He has been researching individual glucose reactions and the microbiome, or your gut bacteria for more than a decade.
“We saw that just the data was showing us that different people will respond very differently to the same food so that suggests that no one-size-fits-all diet will ever work for everybody. We really need to tailor these diets at the individual level,” said Segal.
The results for some, including Idema, have been remarkable.
“My A1C when I started was a 10.2, it’s dropped to a 5.5. A 5.5 is really really good. In fact, it’s considered to be in remission,” Idema said.
That is something that’s worth repeating — Idema’s Diabetes is in remission. It's an impressive feat that doctors say is a great sign of how much his health has improved.
However, some say just like one-size-fits-all may not work for diets, an app alone may not be all you need.
“I caution just because like I’m saying, there’s other factors that if you ate a sandwich one day and you see a spike in the next day, it could be playing different roles, or if you rely on just that one reading it might be misinformation that you think, 'oh, I can’t eat sandwiches because my blood sugar was rising,'” said Meredith Thivierge, a nutritionist with Johns Hopkins.
She says several factors in addition to diet, like hormone levels, being sick, stress and other factors can impact your glucose levels. While nutrition apps like Idema's can be a powerful tool, she says you should always consult with your doctor and licensed nutritionist.
Still, Idema says his results have changed his life.
“My primary care physician has taken me off all my diabetic medications,” he said.
He says the ease of using his phone helped him in a big way.