Does your doctor also tell you, that an HbA1c above 5.6% (37.7 mmol/mol) means that you are doing permanent damage to all your blood vessels?
I thought not.
It's not your doctors fault. They are overworked and doing the best they can in a system that's not working effectively. Unfortunately health care in the UK is more reactive than preventative, and the culture is 'a pill for an ill'. Many illnesses are due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, which is compounded by shoddy advice from initiatives such as 'The Eatwell Guide', or 'Better Health'. Instead of patients being empowered to make positive change, they feel subservient and expect their GP to make everything better, even the common cold. Improving your blood sugar level, and thereby your health, is something you can be in control of.
What is the HbA1c?
In simple terms the Glycated Haemoglobin blood test (HbA1c) checks your average blood sugar over a 3-month period. It is an important test, because chronic high blood sugar from excess carbohydrates and sugars, makes blood vessels stiff and narrow, increasing the likelihood of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack (among other things). Carbohydrates are found in highly processed junk and foods such as bread, pasta, cereals, rice and potato. All carbs are broken down into sugar in the body. Some more quickly than others, but the end point is still sugar. Some people can tolerate quite a bit of sugar, whereas other people are highly intolerant.
How do you know if your blood sugar is of concern?
Well first of all, you need to know what your number is. So, if you have access to on-line records, you can check there. Otherwise, you need to have a conversation with your GP. If you don't ask, you won't get. You are entitled to know, so don't be shy. It is so important, if you want to take a proactive approach to your health.
Your GP works within strict reference ranges, which currently state that if your HbA1c is below 6% (42 mmol/mol) then your blood sugar is ‘normal’. Off you go, and carry on doing what you are doing, until you suddenly have symptoms such as excessive thirst, peeing a lot, or unexplained weight loss. It will then be essential to take medication to decrease blood sugar, and/or stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin, or block enzymes to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose.
However, there is clear evidence that an HbA1c over 5.6% (37.7 mmol/mol) already causes significant damage to blood vessels. At this stage, you probably unaware of any symptoms, but tiny blood vessels to eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves are gradually being affected.
To my mind, setting the blood sugar level bar at 6% is like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Absolutely, mind bogglingly stupid!
By the time prediabetes is diagnosed (6% - 6.4%) you will have lost 80% of beta cell function (beta cells are the guys that secrete insulin, that is needed to drive sugar out of the blood, and into the cells).
The good news is, that Type 2 diabetes can be tackled with diet and lifestyle measures, and you don’t need to feel ravenously hungry and deprived whilst doing so. We can get your cravings under control!
If you need help, get in touch, or book a discovery call and we can chat.
Warmly, Alison x