Happy Tuesday folks! We are going to switch gears for a moment and rather than talking about increasing performance we will focus on some facts, figures and education of our leading preventable killers. I had the opportunity to attend an awesome healthcare seminar on Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) which provided a good amount of valuable information that I will be sharing with you over the next few weeks. MNT has been an area of interest to me for years especially because of its role in Diabetes Management. We (the collective society) have finally realized that Medicine, Lifestyle and Health are not independent but rather inter -dependent. I bet everyone knows someone that has diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or metabolic syndrome… did you know that these are also called the “silent killers” . Unfortunately these names have become all too common over the last 10-15 years.
A major part of any medical therapy is assessment. Clinical indicators play a big role in determining how well your body is responding to the therapeutic regimen you are on. Over the next few weeks I will briefly outline 3 major Clinical Indicators: HbA1c, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol. I picked these indicators to share because they are usually measured in annual labs and offer wealth information about your health.
Now let’s talk about the conditions I mentioned earlier, what are they? How prevalent? How does one get it? Associated clinical indicators and more.
Fact: Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death. Fact: 23.6 million or about 8% of the U.S population have been diagnosed with Diabetes and another 41 million people live with pre-diabetes (diagnosed an undiagnosed). More alarming is that 1 and 6 overweight adolescents aged 12-19 have pre-diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. In a nutshell it means you blood has too much sugar roaming around which binds to the red blood cells and make the blood thicker. The thicker the blood the harder it is to move around the blood stream and the stronger the heart has to work to pump this thick blood. Crossfit or not your heart muscle just does NOT want to work that hard. The reason this happens is because Insulin, a hormone whose role is to transport sugar out the blood and into cellular energy houses like muscles, liver and of course fat, is either no longer available or not available in enough quantities.
There are 3 common types of Diabetes.
- Type 1: About 5-10% of the Diabetes population has this form. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and is due to the body’s inability to produce insulin. The treatment is Insulin therapy coupled with proper diet and exercise.
- Type 2: This is the most common form and millions of people have been diagnosed with many more that are at high risk or unaware. In this form either the body is not producing enough insulin or begins to ignore the insulin leading to a buildup of sugar in the blood and cell starvation in the body. Think of this situation: you are unaware you have type 2 diabetes, you eat a meal and still feel weak, tired and not energized to exercise so you eat more thinking you need fuel for the fire however in reality the energy is already there in the blood but unable to get to the cells. It’s like being in an ocean seeing the land but no boat to get you there. MNT plays a huge role in the treatment of this form of disease. Diet, exercise and proper use of meds can greatly increase your quality of life and health.
- Gestational Diabetes: Usually occurs around 28weeks of pregnancy and must be monitored and managed well to prevent health concerns for the mother and child after birth.
Diabetes is a global nightmare and affects all individuals young and old, black or white, rich or poor. It is something that we cannot ignore, especially when it comes to our youth. Proper education in nutrition and exercise plays a HUGE role in preventing, managing and even healing from this disease.
Clinical Indicator: Glycated Hemoglobin HbA1c
The clinical indicator associated with diabetes is HbA1c. This test measures the percentage of Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the blood and based on that indicates the average blood glucose level for the past 2 to 3 months. This information is very important in determining if your treatment plan is working or not. This test is different from a finger stick blood sugar test which tells indicates blood sugar level at that point in time and can vary based on external factors such as your last meal or workout. For example: If at baseline you have out of range HbA1c levels and you are put on a diet and exercise program, a blood sugar test may provide results in range for that moment in time however to determine if the program is working ideally the HbA1c will have improved after 3 months. HbA1c is presented as percentage. Below are the ranges.
Estimated Average Glucose (eAG): Something to keep in mind a new way to understand HbA1c is now being used and is presented as a number (mg/dl) instead of %. This is how the blood glucose is presented in self tests so it makes it easier for diabetes patients to understand their values. A standard conversion formula is: 28.7 X A1C – 46.7 = eAG. I am not sure how it is or will be presented on lab results but it’s something to keep in mind.
What is normal?
Phew… I know that was a lot of information but before interpreting results it’s important to know what it is you are working with. Hope it helped. So, here are the ranges to keep in mind when interpreting your tests. Remember these vary by the guidelines you are using; the following are from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Normal: < 5.6%
Pre Diabetes: 5.7% – 6.4%
Diabetes: >/= 6.5%
Bottom line: If you want to be healthy you have to make lifestyle changes along with complying to your meds. MNT is a way to do just that by finding a balance between Diet and Exercise along with Meds that will enhance an individual’s life experience. A major part of any medical therapy is assessment. Clinical indicators play a big role in determining how well your body is responding to the therapeutic regimen you are on.
There is a lot that can be discussed about diabetes, my goal here is to empower you with the basic information so that you can make more informed decisions and ask your healthcare provider more detailed questions. If I didn’t cover something you are looking for an answer to, please post to comments or email me.
Next week we will talk about Blood Pressure… stay tuned.
The Texting Zoleoite adventure continues, where did she find her next meal? Find out on Thursday!