Diabetes Basics Part 19

blood sugar

We’ll start this one with an FAQ about the A1C test, which measures the degree of glucose stuck to your red blood cells.  This test does not measure blood sugar like a blood sugar meter does, although in a way it measures what your blood sugar is doing to you, which is more important actually.

However, there are a number of variables that are involved besides blood sugar, things like your red blood cell count, and their average life.  This is generally not something you want to worry about unless you have a condition like anemia, but it’s also possible that if your blood cells are healthier than those of the average diabetic, if they live longer in other words, this can elevate your A1C somewhat because longer lived blood cells get more glucose exposure.

It’s a pretty reliable test though for the most part, but we still need to test our blood sugar, not only for day to day management, but to also give us another look at where we are running on average.  Dr. Hite suggests we should test our blood sugar twice a day, which seems reasonable for someone who has been monitoring their diabetes for a long time, but less experienced diabetics will need to check it more often.

When trying to learn what a given meal is doing to you, it is necessary to measure your blood sugar right before the meal and then after a certain interval, usually two hours.  What we are looking for here is to measure the spike, you don’t necessarily have to capture this reading at its peak, and it’s more important to be consistent here, for example testing yourself 2 hours after a meal or 2 hours right before or whatever you choose to do.

The goal here is to compare the effects of various meals on your after meal blood sugar, also keeping in mind that we also want to look at things like how we do several hours later, and even the next day.  Certain foods may inflame us more for instance and this can raise our cortisol levels and have us running higher even the next day.

While this may seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be, just start out by checking your after meal or post prandial readings and log them, along with what has been eaten, and while you may end up refining this process and noticing certain things as you get more experienced, even the simplest approach will provide you with valuable information to put together a good dietary plan that will lessen the stress upon your body and blood sugar.

This is very important stuff indeed and hopefully you can see why it’s nowhere near enough just to tell us to test twice per day as Dr. Hite does.  That’s much more like a game of pin the tail on the donkey and you’ll end up with some information but it will fall short of what you need to know.

Once you’ve gotten your diet down, and there is a fair bit of individualization here, and one’s own palate and preferences need to be factored in as well, then you are going to need to test less often, if you already have measured a certain meal a number of times and you have decided it’s suitable, you’re not going to have to test this every time for sure, and every once in a while will suffice.

Keep in mind that there are several things that determine your blood sugar besides what you ate, and especially that a lot of the blood sugar that you see in your blood didn’t come from food, although this certainly does vary among diabetics.  A lot of people see different readings from the same food and wonder what the hell is going on, and it’s that your liver dumps variable amounts of extra sugar in your blood, and it can and often indeed does this in the presence of a meal.

A good example of this is what is commonly called the dawn phenomenon, the tendency for one’s blood sugar to be higher upon rising, and in the morning generally.  This is the time of day where cortisol levels tend to be the highest, at least if you have a normal cortisol response, and people’s cortisol can peak at other times of the day as well, particularly in those who have adrenal issues such as adrenal fatigue.

The reason for cortisol being higher in the morning is specifically to bring your blood sugar up to prepare you for the new day.  The increase is unremarkable in a non diabetic, but in a type 2 diabetic, we are more prone to bigger spikes from this, so we may see additional increases to various degrees depending on how much of a problem this may be for you.

Some people think that their insulin levels aren’t high enough here but that’s not really the case, and if they had them tested they would typically see fasting insulin in the morning several times higher than normal.  Some more advanced diabetics may have their insulin levels downregulated to where it’s perfectly normal, a desirable condition in itself, but when you get this at this stage after decades of broken glucose metabolism finally beating up your beta cells such that they don’t secrete too much at this time of day, then a lot of damage has been done, a tremendous amount, and there’s lots of work to do indeed to restore the effects of the toxicity of this many years of excess insulin levels, even though these levels have finally subsided.

What someone doesn’t want at this stage is to put insulin back up, and endure even more damage.  We need to realize that when we get dawn phenomenon, we got here because the pancreas and the liver has become insulin resistant, from too much exposure to high insulin for too long, and we want to try to recover from this by normalizing insulin, not by damaging ourselves further.

AMPK is also involved in this, and this is why the drug metformin helps this, and once again, metformin puts insulin down not up, and that’s exactly what we want.  Unfortunately, this drug does come with a lot of side effects, and berberine, which is a supplement, does the same thing and more without these nasty and uncomfortable side effects, which not only include nausea and diarrhea that often does not go away, but other things such as disturbed thyroid hormone function, deficiencies of certain nutrients, disturbed metabolism due to methylation issues, high lactic acid levels, lower testosterone in men, elevated homocysteine which is a risk for cardiovascular disease among other things, and more.

Metformin is by far the safest anti diabetic drug out there though, which gives you an idea of just how nasty the other ones are, I guess we could throw drugs that lower carb absorption in there too, they are fairly safe as well, but the other stuff does tend to be quite a bit more toxic than these two classes.

Berberine on the other hand doesn’t involve our monkeying around with Mother Nature, as is necessary with pharmaceutical drugs, as at one time a patent was obtained, which requires the substances be unique in nature, and this has a lot to do with their riskiness and toxicity.  Berberine has been used successfully as a medicine for literally thousands of years though and is one of the safest substances in nature, there is no toxic dose of it at all actually, and it provides a number of additional benefits beyond that of metformin, which is why there’s a big trend toward taking this instead these days as the word gets out more on this.

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