The more I listen to the radio or read the news, the more I see the veil being pulled back on the medical establishment and the ways in which we have been completely misled when it comes to our health.
I recently heard an interview with two medical doctors who co-authored a book on why so many medical treatments and recommendations are not beneficial (or blatantly harmful).
Here’s a teaser: statins don’t save lives in the majority of cases (and they hurt), neither does using cholesterol as a gauge for health; stents in the arteries absolutely do not prevent future heart events or death for 80% of people; drugs for high blood pressure are no better than sugar pills and diabetic medications do not decrease the risk for heart disease and other blood sugar complications. They discussed many other treatments as well. You can listen to the interview here.
Because these drugs and treatments don’t address the root of the problem and compromise your health in the interim.
And scientists and doctors have known these facts for over a decade, yet I bet many of you still hear the same recommendations in your doctor’s offices. The authors concede that medicine is SLOW to change, and that’s putting it nicely.
When it comes to your blood sugar and your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, high blood pressure and Alzeimer’s (now known as Type 3 diabetes or diabetes of the brain), medical recommendations have been worsening the problem, not solving it or even stalling it. The first major area of failure is in the diagnostic criteria – the blood sugar guidelines set by the American Diabetic Association (ADA) to diagnose diabetes in the first place. So, we’ll start there.
WHO SHOULD CARE:
First, anyone and everyone needs to pay attention to their blood sugars. Metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and abdominal obesity are much more related to environment and lifestyle than genetics. None of us are wired to be able to handle high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates for long periods of time. And, when I say high amounts, for many, this could be a bowl of fruit on an empty stomach, let alone the highly refined and processed breakfast cereals, snack bars, and yogurt parfaits that we’re led to believe are “healthy choices”.
Secondly, even if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, the blood sugar targets within the medical system are letting LOTS of people slip through the cracks, believing they have healthy blood sugars and are not at risk, when in fact, they may be experiencing complications from high blood sugar without knowing it.
Worse yet, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, the recommendations are highly permissive, meaning they lead you to believe that you can maintain sugars higher than is actually healthy for your body, causing you to progress even further in your condition, encouraging complications and preventing you from ever reversing your condition.
DANGEROUS BLOOD SUGAR GUIDELINES:
Below are the traditional guidelines for fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c – a measure of how much sugar is attached (really, how much damage has been done) to your red blood cells and therefore how well you’ve been managing your blood sugars over a period of about 3 months:
There is a third way of measuring blood sugar in your doctor’s office and that’s the oral glucose tolerance test (OGGT) where you drink a sugary liquid and your blood sugar is measured 2 hrs later. Not only is that sugary beverage very harmful and stressful to your system, but it’s not the best way to assess how your body handles sugar in an actual meal (more on that in a minute).
Most doctors are happy if a diabetic maintains an A1c of less than 7% or has a fasting blood sugar of 110. They consider your condition “tightly controlled”.
These levels are too high! It’s mind-boggling, actually. Some doctors even let you walk out of the office with levels in the prediabetic range and simply tell you to try to eat right and exercise, without giving you good advice on what that actually looks like. Or, if you’ve got high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease or diabetes, they’ll rush to put you on a medication that does nothing to improve health in the long run.
WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS:
Our bodies start experiencing damage from elevated blood sugars in the prediabetic range, with fasting sugars at the level of 100mg/dl or higher, post-meal sugars of 140 or higher and an A1c of over 4.6% (1). Risks and complications include:
- Damage to the retina of the eye (the cause of diabetic blindness) begins with BS levels above 120.
- Peripheral nerve damage (in the hands and feet) begin with BS levels above 120.
- Damage to the pancreas and the cells that make insulin begin with a fasting BS of 110 and a post-meal of 140. When I say damage, I mean the cells die off. This is what leads to the need for insulin injections later on in the progression of diabetes.
- Heart problems can occur with blood sugars in the pre-diabetic range, post-meal sugars over 150 and an A1c over 4.6%.
- Chronic kidney disease risk shoots up with an A1C of 6%
What this effectively means is that the medical criteria are too high. We’d be more accurate calling prediabetes…diabetes. Diagnosing diabetes at the levels we do now is way too far down the line.
We’re experiencing complications from elevated blood sugars within the prediabetic blood sugar ranges. This is one of the reasons why doctors don’t see the reversal of diabetes and don’t believe it’s possible. Their guidelines keep people stuck in the cycle of high blood sugars and medications.
Also, people who are not even diagnosed as prediabetic are experiencing health problems from high blood sugars, though they don’t know it in the short-term. You can see that the ideal A1c for a “normal” individual is too high based on what the evidence tells us.
Many people go undiagnosed because the in-office testing of fasting blood sugar and A1c are not great at catching erratic blood sugar swings (usually after meals) that are an indicator that you’re experiencing damaging spikes in your blood sugars, enough to put you at risk for complications. Because the A1c is an average, if your sugars swing high then low, it can make your average seem more normal that what your body actually experiences. If you’ve been told you’re hypoglycemic and experience low blood sugars, this is especially true for you. It went low after first going too high.
CHECK YOUR BLOOD SUGAR TO ASSESS YOUR RISK:
Everyone should test their blood sugars. We are ALL at risk for problems associated with blood sugar imbalance, whether it be weight gain and immune system dysfunction or colon cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Blood sugar balance is KEY.
Get a glucometer and check your blood sugars. The one I like and use is the Freestyle Precision Neo glucometer. They have coupons online and you can also get them on Amazon.
Fasting blood sugar: To get a proper fasting blood sugar, the morning is not ideal. Sure, test your morning fasting sugar to see how your dinner choices affect you in the morning, and also to compare it to a later fasting reading, which will tell you how much your morning level is being affected by what’s called the dawn effect or the dawn phenomenon. This where our natural morning mix of hormones causes our livers to release stored sugar to get you up and going. This means that for most of us, our morning blood sugars are going to be elevated beyond a normal fasting. To get a more normal fasting reading, take your blood sugar about 3.5 or 4hrs after a meal, which could also mean right before you eat, but you must not have had any food or drink other than water during that fasting period. Now you know your true fasting level.
Post-meal blood sugar: This is the most important reading of all. This is where you can really determine how your body is handling carbohydrates in the meal. Your blood sugar may spike anywhere from 15min after your meal to 2hrs after, so just relying on a 2hr reading isn’t going to work. Instead, say on the weekend, take the time to find out where your blood sugar actually spikes. For 2 different meals, test your blood sugars every 15min after the meal until you hit 2hrs. This tells you what your blood sugar curve looks like in general. You may find that while your blood sugar looks more normal at the 2hr mark, it shot up to 150 or 180 at the 1hr mark, which is a sign of problems.
Now that you know when your blood sugar actually peaks, that’s where you test your post-meal blood sugars in the future. Not at the 2hr mark. You’ll want to keep these new guidelines in mind, based on what the scientific research tells us about the risk for complications due to elevated blood sugars.
If you’re already diabetic, these targets may seem scary. I’m here to tell you that it’s totally doable in a very short period of time with the proper approach, one that I will lay out for you in the coming weeks.
The current guidelines are only allowing more and more of us to progress into prediabetes and diabetes. No wonder the CDC projects that by 2050, 1 in 3 of us will be diabetic and others project that 75% of us will be prediabetic!
YOU CAN CHANGE THIS NOW. Start by testing your blood sugars at the appropriate times to really get a sense of where you fall on the spectrum.
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