Do you know your AIC?
The Hemoglobin AIC (hbA1c) blood test measures your average blood sugar over approximately the last 3 months. Testing blood glucose with a home meter is a useful tool but it often doesn't give the full picture. Insulin may be coping with chronically high blood glucose which would show readings in range during those snapshots of a moment in time, yet missing the progression to insulin resistance and the point insulin can no longer force excess glucose into the cells.
Glucose molecules stick and bond to different proteins, including hemoglobin (red blood cells). Red blood cells (which live about 3 months) carry oxygen to every part of our body. Think of each red blood cell as a passenger train car with a set number of seats. Oxygen molecules sit in these seats and are transported to your tissue and organs.
Glycated glucose molecules are pushy, and take up these seats instead of O2. The more seats taken by glucose the less oxygen reaching every part of your body. hbAIC tells you how many seats are taken up by glucose.
When glucose sticks to other proteins throughout the body it creates something called AGE's - Advanced Glycation End Products. AGE's are responsible for oxidative damage, free radicals, and a driver of of premature aging, and degenerative diseases.
Insurance companies use the A1C because results are an indicator of life expectancy. Disease severity rises as average blood sugar rises.
Consider Type 2 Diabetes: Standard treatment of insulin injections does not heal the issue (nor does the "new" drug heavily being marketed currently). The disease progresses with health complications for the kidneys, circulation (including amputations), eyesight, and more. (Consult your physician before making changes to medications.)
The longer you've had a high AIC, and the higher it is, the longer it will take to heal the metabolic dysfunction and any correlating disease. Therefore, don't wait for a diagnosis to find out your A1C.
Getting your AIC tested is easy.
Even if you consider yourself metabolically healthy, you will have a baseline measurement moving forward.
In my work experience, most under estimate the amount of sugar they are consuming, usually not counting wheat and other grains, fruit, and hidden sugars in sauces and dressings.
The AIC helps us get real about what, how, and when we're eating. Food is a set of instructions to your body. Chemistry trumps calories.
Knowing your AIC empowers you to make changes if necessary and is a tool to monitor progress and effectiveness of these changes.
You do not need a doctor's requisition or a diagnosis to get tested. Shopper's Drug Mart offers testing for $25. Contact you local outlet to book an appointment. A simple finger prick and results only take a minute or two.
Interpreting your results: "Normal" ranges are based on population averages, not what is optimal. Diabetes Canada lists an A1C of 5.7 - 6.4% as a diagnostic criteria for prediabetes, and under 5.7 as "healthy". However the ideal range for optimal health is between 4 and 5%. (If you monitor your blood sugar, be aware the A1C is a percentage. A1C of 5.5% is not the same as your metre reading of 5.5 mmol/l. The conversion from percentage in this example is 6.6mmol/l.)
The Bitter Truth
The food and lifestyle changes required to lower a high AIC requires a willingness to question societal norms, including:
Decades of erroneous food advice:
Many of us are sugar burning machines from decades of outdated or wrong advice, leaving our bodies constantly seeking hits of instant energy from glucose sources and frequent eating. These create the perfect chemical storm of constant high blood sugar and elevated insulin, and the consequential inability to switch to fat burning mode, never tapping into our fat stores.
Limiting beliefs around aging, menopause, food, and hunger, to which we give our power and responsibility.
An over correction to the past narrow definition of beauty:
Self love is self honouring choices and self mastery. Loving our bodies regardless of shape and size ecompasses listening to its messages, and treating it with kindness and respect through our choices. Body acceptance is not the normalization of obesity.
Restoring Metabolic Health
Diets do not work not only because the calories in vs calories out model is flawed, but also because the idea we can go back to the habits that created the poor health in the first place is an illusion. Diets do not deal with the root issues. One of which for most is the relationship with food, our bodies, and ourselves. This root may be shallow, or a root system, and why the changes to food and lifestyle (and the pace of) required will vary from person to person. Additionally, the consideration of where you are on the continuum of metabolic health will determine the appropriate place to start for you.
If any of this resonate with you, it is a journey I personally know well and I am here to support you.
Give yourself a personalized plan with support, guidance, and accountability. Waiting for external circumstances to pass before starting is a mind game. There will always be a holiday, event, or stress that makes it inconvenient to start. We are being called to level up now.
We are the sum of our habits. Break free from what isn't serving you ~