In many cases, the practice of medicine is simply the manipulation of test results. Doctors live and die by test results. If they can make your test results look “better,” it doesn’t matter if you still feel terrible, as far as anyone is concerned, they’ve done their job. If entire societies get progressively sicker to the point that the average test result wouldn’t look good by normal standards, they simply change the standards.
This is what happened with how the American Diabetes Association (ADA) measures and classifies and diagnoses diabetes. In 1998, the ADA raised the standards of what is considered diabetic as a result of measuring blood sugar from 126 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) to 140 mg/dL.
Now, depending on the type of test you take—oral glucose tolerance test for example—you might have to be higher than 199 mg/dL to be diagnosed as diabetic. The most commonly used test these days is called a Hemoglobin A1c. Rather than measuring the level of change of sugar in the blood, it measures how much sugar is bonded to the hemoglobin in your blood over a three month period and finds an average. When more than 5% of the hemoglobin in your blood is permanently bonded to sugar, you are considered diabetic.
The problem with this test is that if you’re dehydrated, anemic or have low hemoglobin levels, it will skew the results. Furthermore, there’s a big problem with both of these tests and using them as a tool for diagnosis. It’s that diabetes isn’t just something where there’s a line you cross in terms of blood sugar: On one side of the line, you weren’t diabetic. On the other side of the line, you are diabetic.
I understand the need for doctors to have a unit of measurement, but developing diabetes is just that—a development. Well before your blood sugar levels are pre-diabetic by ADA standards, you’re running the risk of damaging your organs.
For example, a 2008 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that people with fasting blood sugar (FBG) levels above 95 had more than 3x the risk of developing future diabetes than people with FBG levels below 90. For the record, you’re not even considered pre-diabetic until you’re over 100.
A 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a progressively increased risk of heart disease in men with FBG levels above 85 mg/dL, as compared to those with FBG levels of 81 mg/dL or lower.
A high sugar diet, and its high blood sugar corollary, also lead to stroke, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, liver disease, osteoarthritis, and other autoimmune diseases, infertility, sleep apnea, colon, breast and endometrial cancers, lupus and contributes to depression, anxiety and even has tenuous links to other more serious mental disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Many theorize it is at the root of the so-called ADHD epidemic in American children.
And herein lies the point. Sugar and carbs put you at risk for health problems, even if they are not at diabetic or pre-diabetic levels.
An at-home test that beats what the doc will give you
If you’re interested in KNOWING your blood sugar situation and using it to your advantage, I’ve got a testing technique and approach for you. It’s cheap, convenient, customized to your needs and totally safe.
All you do is get a glucometer and a bunch of test strips and start testing yourself after every meal for three days. But wait, there’s a process.
- Test your blood sugar first thing in the morning after fasting for at least 12 hours. Drink a little bit of water just after rising, but don’t eat anything or exercise before the test. This is your fasting blood sugar level and should be considered your baseline.
- Test your blood sugar again just before eating lunch.
- Eat your typical lunch. Do not eat anything for the next three hours. Test your blood sugar one hour after lunch.
- Test your blood sugar two hours after lunch.
- Test your blood sugar three hours after lunch.
- Record all the results meticulously.
- Average the results of all three days, making sure to separate the averages for each time of day tested, asking yourself:
- What’s my three-day average level directly after waking up?
- What’s my three-day average level right before lunch?
- What’s my three-day average level one hour after lunch?
- What’s my three-day average level two hours after lunch?
- What’s my three-day average level three hours after lunch?
Here’s what this all means for you: You want your blood sugar doesn’t consistently rise higher than 140 mg/dL an hour after a meal, but do consistently drop below 120 mg/dL two hours after a meal, and return to baseline (i.e. what it was before you ate) for three hours after a meal.
If you are going over 140mg/dL and not going under 120mg/dL consistently, then you’ve got a problem and you need to very seriously address your diet and lifestyle.
As I pointed out before, blood sugar levels that are even below the ADA’s designation for diabetic or pre-diabetic can lead to a wide range of diseases from cancer to heart disease to Parkinson’s and many other things.