In this month’s Endocrine Health Spotlight: Know Your Number!
By Jennifer Kohler, MS, FNP-BC, CLC
What number? Your Hgb A1C number! Hgb A1c is “glycosylated hemoglobin,” and it is a measurement of your average blood sugar over a 3-month period. It is not affected by a recent meal or illness. This measurement can give insight into your risk of diabetes, and in diabetics, it can give you an idea about how well your diabetes is controlled to some degree.
Non-diabetics should have a Hgb A1c level of no more than 5.6%. If your level is 5.7% to 6.4% this signals pre-diabetes. It is recommended that you should have a yearly HgbA1c done starting at age 35. This helps you be aware of your risk and enables you to make preventative changes to your diet and lifestyle. What if your number is pre-diabetic? Then we discuss diet, lifestyle modifications, and possible supplements to add to help glucose and insulin metabolism.
“Oh Jennifer, now you are going to want me to cut out foods I enjoy!” Not necessarily, but we would discuss modifications to your diet, while still being able to enjoy certain foods in moderation without causing food resentment. Adding certain foods to your diet could also be helpful, and you may find you enjoy foods you had never tried before.
Exercise can also be helpful. Your goal is for 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week. This can cut the risk of insulin resistance in half. “But I can’t do that now!” It’s ok, start slow and gradually increase your activity, even if you just start by walking in your living room while a commercial is on the TV. Every little bit will help. Start slow and do what you can.
The important thing is knowing where your current health stands and what you can do to improve it. Elevated glucose levels can cause a cascade of other health issues including impaired lipid metabolism (elevated triglycerides, low HDL (the good cholesterol), elevated blood pressure), kidney issues, heart issues, depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairments just to name a few. We want to work with you to prevent these chronic illnesses.
“True prevention is not waiting for bad things to happen, it's preventing things from happening in the first place.” Don McPherson (yes, that Don McPherson for those of you who are football fans).