Making sure your cells do not become insulin resistant is the single most important thing you can do to protect your health. Both insulin resistance and high cholesterol are driven by the same dietary and lifestyle habits.
Insulin resistance and Cardio Vascular Disease
Becoming insulin resistant increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Developing insulin resistance is the single most important predictor of who is likely to develop cardiovascular disease ten to twenty years down the road. This is why doctors and other health professionals put so much emphasis on preventing diabetes.
According to American Heart Association more than 50 million Americans have metabolic disorders that include insulin resistance. Tragically insulin resistance occurs in more than 50 percent of obese children.
~ YOU have the potential to prevent and even reverse insulin resistance and CVD issues once you understand what drives BOTH conditions.
Step one – know your numbers!
The first step is to know your numbers. Get both your blood sugar and cholesterol tested. At your annual physical have your fasting blood sugar checked. Depending upon your results your doctor may also order an A1C test.
Current Fasting Blood Sugar Ranges
A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.
Current A1C Ranges
The A1C is a blood test, which doesn’t require fasting, indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells.
The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you’ll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Below 5.7 is considered normal.[i]
Post-prandial (measured with a meter two hours after eating) healthy ranges are under 140. Ranges over 140 – 199 are considered pre-diabetic. Over 200 is considered diabetic.
A 2004 two year study done in the UK that found “persons with hemoglobin A1c concentrations less than 5% had the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. ” [ii]
While these lower healthy ranges are more aimed at catching insulin resistance early, there are many in the functional and integrative medicine field that feel they are still too high. Optimal Functional ranges are lower. Many doctors like Chris Kresser, are encouraging patients to be in the 4.5 to 5. range for A1C readings and between 85 – 90mg/dl for fasting blood sugar.
The ideal cholesterol test includes these markers:
Non- HDL Cholesterol
LDL Particle Number, Peak Size, Pattern
LDL Small & Medium
In addition, functional medicine doctors agree that two additional cardiovascular tests are critical for understanding your level of risk. These tests are homocysteine and CRP.
~ You can order all of these labs yourself without a doctors prescription here :YourLabwork
Homocysteine – why it’s important
Very simply, high homocysteine is a marker of inflammation. Having elevated homocysteine irritates the lining of the blood vessels, causing them to become scarred, hardened, furry and narrowed due to lack of repair caused by essential nutrient cofactor deficits.
This loss of homeostatic repair increases resistance to blood flow, thus increasing the work the heart must do. Increased propensity for blood clotting–especially in people consuming too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega-3 fatty acids–further decreases or blocks the flow of blood through blood vessels, resulting in greater risk of strokes and heart attacks.[iii]
High homocysteine levels are strongly associated with increased cardiovascular risk in all age and ethnic groups. Various labs have different normal and typical values, ranging anywhere from 8-15 ?mol/L.
Functional doctors like to see this value <8.
CRP – what it is?
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein the liver produces in the presence of infection or inflammatory disease. Your level of C-reactive protein can be an indicator of how at risk you are for developing cardiovascular problems. This is because the development of atherosclerosis.[iv]
CRP (C Reactive Protein) Ranges
- Low risk: hs-CRP level under 1.0 mg/L
- Average risk: between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L
- High risk: above 3.0 mg/L
- Very high risk: 5-10 mg/L
- Greater than 10 mg/L: persistent elevation of inflammation[v]
Unfortunately, most traditional doctors do not order homocysteine or CRP tests because these tests are not covered by most insurance companies. Additionally, many do not order a complete cholesterol panel.
YOU can order these labs YOURSELF at this link:
Disclosure: I am pleased to announce I have partnered as an affiliate with YourLabwork. Using my link costs you nothing. You receive discounted labs (at 50-80% less than you would pay elsewhere) in a safe, confidential and convenient way and a small percentage of your purchase goes to support my nutrition business. Thank you!!
Step two – make a few changes to your diet
- Stabilize blood sugar swings by eating protein with every meal; (it does NOT have to be a large amount), and by eating about every 4 hours. Eating scheduled meals does wonders for controlling blood sugar swings.
- Cut out refined sugar. Use stevia or monk fruit or xylitol as sweeteners. Remember that the more you consume sweet tasting foods the more you will crave them, so strictly limit. Eating small amounts of honey or maple syrup is acceptable.
- Eat carb smart. This means getting the majority of your carbohydrates from organic vegetables. Eating the color of the rainbow and what is in season is a good strategy.
- Reduce (no more than 1 cup a day) or eliminate grains.
- Limit fruits to 2 ½ cup servings a day. Stick to berries. Do not overload that smoothie with fruit!
- Don’t consume fruit juices.
- Be aware of empty calories from drinks like fancy coffees, cocktails.
- Eat wild caught fish 2 – 3 x a week. And add a high-quality fish oil supplement daily.
- Don’t eat fried foods or junk snack foods.
- Eat more organic leafy greens and take a B-complex with methyl-folate not folic acid.
- Consider adding berberine. Read more about the many benefits here: Berberine: the next super herb?
- Limit red meat to 2-3 x a month (a must for men with prostate issues) or eliminate. Choose pastured beef, pork or wild caught bison, venison if you do eat red eat.
Step three – adopt healthy lifestyle habits
- Optimize your sleep and get 8 hours a night of restful sleep. If sleep is a problem, read this post:Natural Sleep Solutions that work
- Lose some weight. Even losing a little as 8-10 lbs can help reduce your risk.
- Move! Incorporate movement daily and make it something you enjoy, dancing, yoga, bicycling, swimming… Walking and hiking are the easiest for most people. You do not have to be gym rat to see benefits. Ten minutes 3 x a day is good starting goal.
- De-stress! Any activity that incorporates deep belly breathing is good. Besides mindfulness and meditation, Earthing[vi] an Heart Math[vii] are excellent
- Optimize your micronutrients. The best way to do this is to get a micronutrient test done.
One on one nutritional consultations make a BIG difference in success. Let’s have a no-fee 15 minute phone conversation and see if I can help you! Contact me!
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