Part 4 of 7 Essential of Heart Health: Blood sugar
Now we will discuss blood sugar or glucose levels. We want your fasting glucose to be less than 100 mg/dL. Diabetes is not diagnosed until the fasting glucose level reaches 126 mg/dL. So what do we call the level between 100 and 126 mg/dL? Well, it has many names: pre-diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome just to name a few. Is this important? YES
When we eat the digestive system starts breaking down the food and sugar is released into the blood stream. Another organ, pancreas, produces what is called insulin. Insulin is needed to get the sugar from the blood stream into the cell where it is used as fuel. Insulin resistance is when the pancreas still makes insulin, but the body doesn't use it efficiently. So the pancreas makes more which results in high insulin levels and high sugar levels - both of which damage the blood vessels in your body. Eventually, the pancreas can't produce insulin any more and you need to take insulin injections. So, it's extremely important to treat this before it gets to this stage.
Insulin resistance does not make you feel bad, so unless you are tested, you will not know that you have it. The earlier that you discover it, the easier it is to avoid becoming a diabetic by learning to eat a proper diet and beginning regular exercise. 70% of heart attack and stroke patients have insulin resistance - many who never knew they had a problem with sugar. Insulin resistance is one of the root causes of vascular disease. Although there are many ways to test for this, the best is with a 2 hour glucose tolerance test. Be sure to ask for this test if your sugar is above 100 mg/dL.