I don’t usually like to talk about myself. Ok, that’s a lie. But, I recently had an experience with my own health that I thought might be of interest.
Like most folks, every year or so I go to the doctor for a check up. So a couple of weeks back I fasted for 12 hours and went early in the morning for my blood work. Not fun. The test isn’t bad, but I am grumpy without coffee in the morning.
The doctor gave me a shopping list of tests that I can have and I chose. It’s the most comprehensive set of tests I have ever had and the results of them were quite enlightening.
Here’s some background. I am a 48 year old, pre-menopausal woman, slim build, very physically active and lifetime vegetarian (ovo-lacto). A doctor’s dream patient.
As you might expect, my cholesterol readings have always been great which is to be expected for a fit pre-menopausal woman (estrogen has beneficial effects on cholesterol). However, a few years ago, my tests showed that my blood sugar readings were “high” normal hovering around 100 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/L).
I was shocked and concerned that I was on the verge of developing pre-diabetes. The second year, the same test results. I got used to the idea that I was likely to develop Type II diabetes in 10 years. After all, for 20+ years I had been doing all the “right” things according to the American Diabetes Association guidelines yet the numbers were inching higher.
I began to read bunches on pre-diabetes and what to expect. From reading, I knew that scientists are beginning to find more and more connections between not only high blood sugar and heart disease, but also links between blood sugar and pancreatic, colon, breast, prostate, and other cancers. I started to research ways to help myself nutritionally and fitness-wise. After a lot of research from traditional medicine to alternative, fitness and nutrition, I developed a plan and followed it for a year and a half.
To see if the plan is working, in the recent check-up, I asked for the full blood sugar testing including the test that measures blood sugar ranges over a 3 month period.
When the tests came back, my blood sugar was 80 and stable over 3 months. My cholesterol profile was even better than previous years.
Then, I compared the recent test with medical records kept over the last 20 years. I saw something amazing my blood sugar, cholesterol and other readings (liver function etc.) are the same now as the were in 1991 when I was 32 years old.
After that time, the readings slowly increased. By 1996, my blood sugar reading was 100. Why wasn’t this pointed out at the time?
Well, back in 1996 the “normal” ranges for blood sugar were between 70 and 140. So, 100 was well within range. The designated normal ranges have dropped significantly in the last few years.
Now we have intermediate ranges called prediabetes. (110-125) This is used largely as an intervention technique, because if caught at these early stages, half of people will not develop diabetes if they change their habits and lifestyle.
So, back to my story: what was the plan I developed? What did I change over the last year and a half that so significantly lowered blood sugar readings?
Here’s what I did:
Reduced dramatically the bread, pasta, rice and other grain-based things, brown or white, to less than once per week. Rarely ate sugar paying specific attention to hidden sugars in food. No fruit juice or sports drinks Ate many more vegetables and raw vegetables. Used fruit in moderation. Added lots more protein foods: beans, nuts, lean dairy, eggs, soy (a non-vegetarian would include meat/poultry/fish) Had 5 to 6 small meals per day rather than 3 big ones. Added cinnamon daily. Included chromium and magnesium to my daily vitamin intake (multivitamin, antioxidants and essential fatty acids) Added more weight training to my workout. Practiced conscious stress reduction techniques
Since I did not approach the problem of lowering my blood sugar using the scientific method, it’s impossible to say which of the above items individually helped lower the sugar readings Put all together, they did work dramatically.
So if you or anyone you know have blood sugar increases, it’s worth giving the things above a try. At the very least, you will be following a sound nutrition, fitness and wellness plan which certainly is good for you!
Copyright (c) 2007 Ainsley Laing