A lot of people think that we should always look to get our blood sugar either down to normal or as close to normal as we can. This might seem to be an obvious thing to shoot for, after all, our blood sugar is higher, it’s better to not have it higher, having it higher can lead to negative health outcomes and complications, so we should do our best to bring it down as much as we can, with normal blood sugar the goal here.
If you’ve been following along with the material I’ve put up on this site so far though, you might suspect that I am going to say, well not so fast, there are other things we need to be thinking about, and as you will see, there certainly is.
The first thing I want to say about this, and the most important one I’d say, is that in reducing blood sugar, seeking to make that our primary and even sole focus, and making this focus on one’s blood sugar at the present time, without even considering what the long term blood sugar outcomes may be, is actually a very foolish and even blind way to approach treating this disease.
I’m not even sure that looking to reduce blood sugar this way, just looking to reduce it without any regard to the underlying conditions and the underlying factors, is ever a good idea. This is because our blood sugar is a certain level for a reason, and when we look to devise methods of treatment, we have to look at how the reasons behind it are affected, not just the blood sugar levels.
So for instance we know that the reason why our blood sugar is high isn’t because we don’t have even more toxic levels of insulin running through us, and this is a perfect example of using the wrong kind of thinking here.
So at a minimum, we need to be at least shooting to fix something, for instance if we’re running high because we’re eating too many carbs and we can’t tolerate the problem, then we’ve identified the problem, the cause, and are looking to remedy it.
In type 1 diabetics, a big problem they have, the big problem actually, is that they don’t secrete enough insulin, which doesn’t just put your blood sugar up, you can die from this, and they used to die like flies before we discovered insulin and started replacing it in them.
These are just a couple of examples, but the point is that we need to be looking at the big picture here, not just doing things to lower our blood sugar temporarily. Not all meds neglect the real problems though, some do seek to address them, for instance the fact that we tend to be low in AMPK which causes too much liver dumping, among other things, is something that the drug Metformin does, and there are other drugs that seek to improve processes that may be behind our higher blood sugar, and we’re at least on a better track when we do this.
The next consideration is whether the benefits of a therapy outweigh the risks. There are two sides to this, first we need to look at the benefits and risks of the particular therapy, then we need to compare it with the benefits and risks of a comparable therapy, or a combination of them, which may allow us to achieve our goals while reducing these risks, increasing the net benefit of the treatment.
A good example of this is with Metformin, which is a fairly low risk medication and provides similar benefits as far as lowering blood sugar than other oral anti diabetics, but these other medications are higher risk, which causes us to prefer using Metformin as a front line agent.
Then you can compare this with berberine, a supplement that has been shown to do the same thing, but without the side effects of Metformin, so the same benefits, and actually berberine has additional benefits actually, and less downside, this is how we need to be evaluating things.
What we tend to do instead is just look at the blood sugar outcomes, and then say well we should be doing this because blood sugar regulation is what is needed, but we need to always assess the whole situation though, and especially look at the price we may be paying in terms of negative consequences.
So it won’t do you much good for instance if you’re looking to reduce blood sugar to increase your health and life expectancy, you use something that lowers blood sugar, it lowers it effectively, but both your health and your life expectancy goes the other way.
We’re starting to look at treatments in this light and we’re seeing exactly this happen in some cases, and especially with exogenous insulin therapy, which people paint as a white knight who can do no wrong and is a savior but when we look at the data we see a different story. This isn’t the only medication that has concerns of course, and the concerns are pretty significant, and often involve killing people off in the attempt to maintain better blood sugar.
So when I read things like I read the other day where the goal in treating diabetes is supposed to be to lower blood sugar as much as possible without inducing hypoglycemia, I can only shake my head, just as I have to do when I see people on forums preaching normal blood sugar come hell or high water with no regard to anything else.
There’s too much at stake for us not to be smart about this though, and being smart involves looking both ways when we cross the street, not just doing so with our heads down and a silly grin on our face.