When it comes to blood sugar, the closer you can keep it to the normal range of 80 to 89 mg/dL the better. For years I have been warning that blood sugars even in the 90 to 100 range show that you are becoming insulin resistant and on your way to diabetes. A recent study done on 47,000 Kaiser Permanente patients validated this observation.
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine found that blood sugar, blood glucose (BG) levels in the 95-99 range more than doubled a person’s risk of becoming diabetic. In fact, for every point over 85 mg/dL the risk of becoming diabetic increased 6%, even when they controlled for other factors.1
Accordingly, the study noted that there was more incidence of cardiovascular disease and hypertension in those with higher BG. Why is this research so important? It flies in the face of currently accepted medical guidelines that for years have used 100 as the magic number for diagnosing “pre-diabetes.”
At LMI, I’ve been seeing red flags for years when patients come in with BG levels even in the 90’s, because these levels are often accompanied by being somewhat overweight or over fat, having a thick waist, or the spare tire of dangerous belly fat. These are signs that the body can no longer efficiently process the sugars that come from complex carbohydrates in whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and simple sugars.
In other words, they are signs of insulin resistance. Insulin is the “key” that unlocks the door to each cell in the body, letting glucose into the cell to be processed for energy. If the insulin key is faulty, the glucose remains in circulation, raising triglycerides, lowering HDL, and usually ending up at the waistline.
Anytime you see your doctor for a routine physical, fasting blood glucose is tested along with other blood labs. If your blood sugar comes in less than 100 mg/dL, you will likely get an “all clear,” when it comes to diabetes risk. If you’re overweight, have elevated blood pressure and are sedentary — other risk factors for insulin resistance — your doctor may suggest you lose a few pounds and add a few days of walking to your weekly routine.
But typically that won’t happen unless your blood sugar levels come in greater than 100 mg/dL, but less than 126 mg/dL — the pre-diabetes range — then you will get a more stern warning regarding diet and exercise. However, it’s not until your fasting blood sugar levels reach over 126 mg/dL that you are diagnosed with type II diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes.
By the time you get the “true diabetes” diagnosis — your body is so insulin resistant that it may need much more than the “diabetic diet” and a walking routine to get your blood sugar levels under control. This is when you may need an oral hypoglycemic medicine, which comes with a nice little set of nutrient-depleting side effects.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your doctor had warned you of your increased risk way before you even reached the 100 mark for blood glucose? For years, I have been warning my patients that a blood sugar of over 90 is a sign they are becoming insulin resistant. But because medical guidelines give an “all clear” at anything under 100, too many patients don’t want to believe they could be at risk — even with fasting BG’s of 98 and showing every sign of insulin resistance.
At LMI, we go to work on the insulin resistance by giving our patients blood sugar support nutrients like chromium and having our dietitians provide instruction on a lower carb diet. Ironically, we sometimes receive calls from their primary care physicians questioning our course of action because they think these patients “are fine.” But our philosophy is, don’t wait to become diabetic — take action well ahead of time.
Hopefully, the medical community’s eyes will be opened with the newly published article in the American Journal of Medicine. This phenomenal research has hit the nail on the head and may finally spur new guidelines to be issued for the management of blood sugar.
Medical news can take a while to trickle down into actual practice, so in the meantime, you may need to become more proactive on your own. If your blood work reveals a high-normal fasting blood sugar level, cut down on carb-heavy sugars, starches, and fruits, up the organic vegetables and proteins, and get your body moving. You may be saving yourself from becoming a diabetes statistic.
- Am J Med. 2008;121:519-524