Dr. Emily Cooper, author of the Metabolic Storm, the science of your metabolism and why it’s making you fat, explains how knowing your numbers can help detect diabetes warning signs.
Diabetes is really occurring in epidemic proportions in the country, isn’t it?
Yes! Just this past week, I had two new patients in my office who had NO idea that they had full blown diabetes. And their pre-diabetes could have been prevented from becoming full blown diabetes! The symptoms are so common...increased waist size, fatigue along with elevated blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Things that are chronic, but may not seem critical.
This is the kind of stuff where the doctor usually tells you to diet and exercise.
Yes, but as we’ve talked about this year, while nutrition and exercise are important for health, studies show that even intensive diet and exercise programs often don’t prevent diabetes in the long-term, because it’s a complicated medical problem, not just a potato chip and soda problem. And the statistics for eventually developing full blown diabetes from pre-diabetes is enormous! And we’re not necessarily talking about people who are obese. Many affected patients are not clinically overweight.
This is why we’re having an epidemic.
Yes. It really worries me as a physician, and is why I want to get viewers familiar with their numbers so that they can take charge of understanding the results of their yearly blood tests. Let’s start with blood sugar and what’s normal and what’s not.
Blood Sugar Levels
- Fasting Glucose
- Normal = 65-99
- Pre-Diabetes = 100-125
- Diabetes = 126+
- Normal = under 5.7
- Pre-Diabetes = 5.7-6.3
- Diabetes = 6.4+
You want your fasting glucose (also called blood sugar) to be less than 100. If it’s over 126, that’s in the diabetic range. In-between 100 and 126 is pre-diabetic...still dangerous and shouldn’t be ignored. An HBA1C (measurement of 3-month average glucose) of less than 5.7 is normal. Over 6.4 is considered diabetic. In between, is pre-diabetic.
- Normal Cholesterol = under 200
- Normal LDL cholesterol = under 100
- Normal Triglycerides = under 150
- Normal HDL = above 45
- Optimal = under 120/80
- Pre-hypertension = 120-139/80-89
- Hypertension 140/90+
Optimal blood pressure is below 120/80. Anything between 120-140/80-85 is in the danger zone for pre-hypertension. Above 140/85 is considered full blown hypertension.
And something called ‘metabolic syndrome’ consists of a combination where numbers in all 3 of these areas (glucose, cholesterol and BP) are outside of the normal ranges. Having metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and full blown diabetes.
So what you’re saying is that you shouldn’t wait until you’re at the high levels and never ignore the in-between.
Exactly... if your blood work shows an in-between number, it’s not a wait and see situation anymore like we once thought it was. You can change a midrange number back to normal, but it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to reverse full blown diabetes. While diet and exercise can help, when you look deeply at the research, it’s not a long-term fool proof solution for the majority who are at risk. For so many people, early intervention with aggressive medical treatment is essential for preventing diabetes.