Don't Be Normal

So you've been diagnosed with diabetes, or "pre-diabetes" (doesn't exist, it's diabetes), or even bordeline normal blood sugar levels. For all intents and purposes, you should just hear "diabetes" in these cases because they all mean that insulin resistance has begun and the detrimental effects of too much blood sugar are occurring. Having elevated blood sugar levels, even below the formal diabetes range, carries dramatic and significant risks.

Take your brain for example. First of all, is there another organ worth protecting more than your brain? I don't think so. Give me some excess body fat, just let me keep my marbles (truth is, they often go hand in hand). In addition to carrying dramatically increased risks of heart attack, stroke, losing your eyesight or a limb, elevated blood sugar rusts the brain.

It doesn't take a whole lot of excess sugar to do this. In a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, they followed 2067 participants for 6.8 years to determine the impact of blood sugar levels on dementia risk. The result was that having higher blood sugar levels, even those below the range of being considered diabetic carried a significant risk for dementia.

Why is this? An earlier study from Neurology helps to shed some light. In tracking brain size and average blood sugar readings (known as the HbA1C) over the course of 6 years, researchers discoved that those with a level of 5.6% experienced rates of brain atrophy (shrinkage) that were twice as high as those with a HbA1C in the more optimal range of 4.4-5.2%. Realize that most doctor's are trying to keep your A1C below 7.0 if you have diabetes and typically are happy for anyone to be less than 6.0. Even "normal" blood sugar levels will turn your brain into a raisin (and raisins raise your blood sugar even more). 

So in addition to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, limb loss, vision and the like, having elevated blood sugar levels, even if in the "normal" range will steer you toward dementia and lower brain function. 

In the next post, we'll see if following the recommended dietary and lifestyle guidelines are the best laid path. 

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