Understanding Diabetes Improves Longevity

Understanding Diabetes Improves Longevity

Wooden Sign with PREVENTION written on it

Understanding Diabetes Improves Longevity

According to some reports, it is estimated that by the year 2020 half of our population will be either type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic. That is a staggering statistic and there is no denying that we have an epidemic on our hands. If not controlled it can lead to tragic consequences, not only on your health but the health, well-being and economic future of our country. This is becoming a matter of national security. The first step in getting control of this runaway train is to know your numbers.

Most aging adults keep a close eye on cholesterol. We have been programmed to think that cholesterol is the root of all evil. Yet more and more research is coming out not only contradicting this but even referring to it as a “myth”. The research reveals that accelerated aging and many of the chronic diseases Americans are facing are directly related to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. It is important that every aging adult gets their Hemoglobin A1C and fasting insulin checked regularly, even if blood sugars appear normal.

What is Hemoglobin A1C?

Hemoglobin A1C is the most commonly used marker to assess glucose control. This marker was developed over 40 years ago and is a key marker when assessing risk for diabetes and premature aging. Most diabetics know their fasting glucose since they are monitoring this number on the regular basis. The fasting glucose measure gives a snapshot of the blood sugar at that moment in time. This is a great short term check to measure blood sugar levels. In contrast to fasting glucose, HbA1C is a blood sugar marker that paints a picture of how healthy your blood cells are over a period of time. It is a test that measures the percentage of red blood cells damaged by blood sugars. Since red blood cells live on average 3 months, HbA1c is generally tested every 3 months.

The HbA1C specifically measures a process called glycation. This is a destructive process caused by sugars adhering to proteins that shortens the effectiveness and lifespan of cells in the body. Glycation is a cause of many of the complications diabetics face, such as neuropathy, retinopathy, accelerated cognitive decline and kidney disease. The higher the HbA1C, the higher the likelihood of cell and tissue damage and the greater the risk of diabetes and accelerated aging.

According to the American Diabetic Association, the non-diabetic HbA1C range is below 5.7%. Maintaining fasting blood sugar in a healthy range of 80-100 helps keep the HbA1c below 5.7%. The range for pre-diabetes is between 5.7%- 6.4%, and that for diabetes is above 6.4%. The lower this number is the slower the aging process will be.

Click Here to See My Video on HbA1c

Insulin is Just One of the Many Players that Help Regulate Blood Sugar

Insulin is a hormone in the body produced by the pancreas to help maintain blood sugar levels by allowing sugars to be taken up by muscles, or stored in fat cells as fat. Insulin plays several roles in the body but helping to regulate glucose levels is vital to healthy tissues, cells and organs, most importantly the brain. When food is consumed and blood sugar rises it is the job of insulin to lower blood sugar levels by transporting glucose to tissues. As we age insulin receptors in the body can become impaired and dysfunctional. This creates insulin resistance and an increase of glucose and fatty acids (like triglycerides) in the blood and can lead to diabetes.

Many physicians check fasting glucose and HbA1C in their patients but fasting insulin levels is a marker that is many times left out. This marker is important at identifying the risk of becoming diabetic. The fasting insulin may be elevated for many months or years prior to your blood sugar or HbA1C rising. This is important to know because you can take proactive action to improve your lifestyle habits and prevent becoming diabetic. It is much easier to prevent then to reverse.

The goal for fasting insulin levels is 3-5 mU/mL. When your number is above this range there is an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease as this indicates a high likelihood of insulin resistance.

Living Health Integrative Medicine Customizes Testing for You

There are many different markers that we check at Living Health Integrative Medicine. The markers we check depend on each particular patient and their history and complaints. We use the results from the tests to determine risk factors and disease but just as important we use them to determine function. We don’t want to just put a band aid on the problem to get the numbers in the normal range. We want to go beyond this. We want to get down to the root of what is causing the numbers to be out of range and fix it.

We have many different types of patients that visit our office. Most of the patients that visit our office are chronically ill. They have many different functional imbalances that need to be corrected to improve their health. We also have patients that are proactive about their health and even though they don’t have “symptoms” they want preventative check-ups to promote longevity and quality living. Knowing your numbers is important for diabetics and non-diabetics to reverse disease or prevent chronic disease. If you would like a consultation at Living Health Integrative Medicine to see what testing is right for you give us a call.

Interested in learning about the diabetes research? Click here.