The Question: do you have diabetes - it’s probably your first step in understanding exactly what’s going on - the night sweats, the fatigue, the tingling, and the hunger that’s not satisfied…

So many people just don’t know what’s happening. As many as one-third of all people with diabetes are undiagnosed, according to the CDC.

That means you may be on the right track by wondering what’s going on. You should get tested as soon as possible for diabetes and talk to your doctor about what to do. In the meantime, let’s look at more details to figure out if you have diabetes.

How Diabetes is Diagnosed

Doctors look at a variety of information to diagnose diabetes. Blood test for A1C and fasting triglycerides are top of the list, but they also look at your waist to hip ratio, your weight, and your diet.

Most of the time, your doctor will wait until your A1C reaches over 7.0 before they'll tell you about diabetes. A good doctor will notify you when you're coming close. But, often they don’t worry about your number when you have the best chance to do something about it, like when it’s 4 to 5. 

Many will tell you to watch your sugar and your diet if you’re fasting triglycerides are over 120.

But what if you want to know well beforehand to avoid problems?

This is where you have to take control of your health and your health care.

What's Normal versus Diabetes

In healthy people, an A1C is between 1 and 3. What the A1C measures is what percentage of your hemoglobin is coated with sugar. Since hemoglobin has approximately 3 months lifespan, the A1C number measures that 3-month timeframe.

Typically, there’s always sugar in our bloodstream, so a small percentage of our hemoglobin picks up the sugar. That’s why our regular numbers are somewhere between 1 and 3%. But, once that number starts going up, it indicates there's a lot of sugar in our blood over a more extended time.

And where does all that sugar come from… Our diet.

How To Eat to Reverse Diabetes

To lower your A1C level, you need to reduce the amount of sugar that's going into your system and do that consistently over three months.

The first step to lowering your sugar intake is to remove processed foods. Processed foods are the number one source of added sugars, refined starches, and added chemicals. Things like bread, pasta, cookies, candy, pre-made meals, and snack foods are your biggest culprits.

Switching over to fruit and vegetables as snacks significantly lower your A1C.

But, but, but… don't fruit contain sugar?

Yes, fruit contains a lot of sugar, sometimes more. But, fruit also contains a tremendous amount of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy phytonutrients that counteract the effects of the sugar.

It's the way your body processes the fruit and the candy. For example, a candy bar has refined sugar, which is easily absorbed, and raises your blood sugar quickly. Your body physically has two choices for all that sugar, which burns it as energy or store it in your fat cells. It doesn’t have any other redeeming factors.

Now, when you eat a piece of fruit, it gets absorbed a lot slower because many of those sugars are bound up with nutrients and fiber. So, your body actually has to use energy to get the sugars.

Because of all the vitamins and minerals that accompany the sugars, your body can utilize those sugars for energy production a lot easier. So, less goes to being stored as fat.

Of course, if you overeat fruit, it acts like the candy because you have too much. Too much, even a good thing, is a bad thing.


Why Exercise is So Important For Your A1C

Doctors will tell you to lower your A1C with a proper diet that’s low in sugar and exercise. Many people miss the exercise portion.

When you exercise, your body uses more energy, which it gets from sugars. So, when you lower your processed food intake, you lower sugars, and then you burn more of those sugars with exercise, that means fewer sugars are floating around in your body to interact with the hemoglobin. Doing this every day for three months will automatically lower your A1C count.

You now have to keep it up past three months mark. Because, if you go back to the way you were doing things before, your A1C is going to go right back up. 

The great thing is that when your A1C is in the normal range, you can have an occasional splurge, like a birthday party or cookout. Once you have diabetes, that splurge could mean a night in the hospital and worry over long-term effects, such as neuropathy, losing your eyesight, and insulin injections.

Long-Term Diabetes Control Strategy

As you know, your blood sugars fluctuate all day, every day. Your A1C changes rapidly over three months. Fixes to get your numbers under control need to be continued for the rest of your life to keep those numbers in the healthy range.

That sounds like a rather daunting challenge, so take it every three months. Commit yourself that you will control your diet and exercise for three months. Then, at the end of three months reaffirm that commitment. That way, you have a set and short timeline that's achievable and realistic.

You should eat a diet that’s very low in processed food and very high and vegetables. Our coaches here can help you plan a proper diet and make the changes you need with good accountability. Plus, they can help you put together a supplement plan to get in vitamins and minerals you might be missing in your diet.

At Custom Health Centers, we also help you with exercise. Exercise is key. Even if you only start walking 5 minutes every day, get some exercise into your daily routine. The coaches here can help you put together your perfect exercise routine.

Finally, make the choice that you're going to stick with it. Diabetes can be controlled, and you can live a long healthy life by making the right choices.

February 09, 2021 — Dr. Jason Olafsson