“I’ve got the sugar” stated my patient nonchalantly and uncaringly. Is that even a thing? I remember wondering during class when my professor stated that diabetes in the south is much more commonly called “the sugar.” As it turns out, this is a common term in the south and is an illness that has spread from the south and beyond. In the U.S. alone 29.1 million people have diabetes, and a whopping 8.1 million citizens aren’t even diagnosed (CDC). Sadly, diabetes runs rampant, causing a desensitization to the term causing many to manage it poorly, leading to many complications.
As a dentist and a health care provider, I need to encourage our patients to eat right, not just for their teeth, but for their overall health. No sugar. – Dr. Medina
But how do our doctors and nurses REALLY know if you have been managing your diabetes? Skipping breakfast the day of your check-up may be a feeble attempt to hide the past few days of pigging out, but it won’t hide the long term truth, thanks to a little something called hemoglobin A1C.
In our bodies, there are proteins known as hemoglobin and these are equipped with oxygen carrying sites that transport oxygen to our surrounding tissues. In diabetics or anyone with chronic hyperglycemia, the excess amount of glucose binds onto these carrying sites, due to its sticky nature. This decreases hemoglobin’s capacity to carry oxygen, which leads to a slew of complications for the noncompliant diabetic. One major complication is the decrease in oxygen supply to your tissues because glucose is taking the oxygen’s spot. Once these cells are saturated with glucose they are stuck like that (literally) until the end of their 120-day lifespan.
The good news is that Type II diabetes is reversible. The trick is to eat right. No sugary junkie foods for 120 days and your blood can heal itself. If you binge out with sugary foods, it can take your body 120 days for the cycle to occur and have healthy blood. – Dr. Medina
When you visit your doctor, and he or she does some basic blood tests, hemoglobin A1C is often a part of those. But what exactly is hemoglobin A1C? This test specifically measures the amount of glucose that is saturating our hemoglobin. Hemoglobin A1C is measured in percentage and can be 4-6% in a healthy person. However, in those who are not taking care of their diabetes, their HA1C could be as high as 12-15% even if their fingerstick (serum) glucose is within normal range. No matter how much you want to cover it up, your hemoglobin A1C will reveal the truth of your compliance within the past four months (120 days).
Diabetes can be intimidating. Sugar is sweet in the mouth but is in no way sweet in your body when chronically high, damaging every part in some way. So how do you manage your diabetes? Simple. Manage your blood sugar. For type I diabetes, one can manage their blood sugar with insulin and very specific medication. As for the type 2 diabetic, one can find victory in eating a healthy diet and regular exercise. A healthy diet will include adequate fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, exercise will increase cell sensitivity to insulin. This will allow your body to make better use of the insulin it produces. Exercise increases your cells sensitivity to insulin, helping decrease your glucose levels, and ultimately saving your hemoglobin from coming too weighed down from that goopy sugar.
A full and happy life is more than possible for those with diabetes, as it is completely manageable with many available resources. I encourage you to discuss all your questions and concerns regarding your diabetes or fear of diabetes with your doctor.
Thank you Kami. Thanks for explaining the 120 day concept to me. Not only do I need to eat right, as a health care provider I need to encourage those around me as well to eat right. – Dr. Medina
Kami is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Medina. She is currently a nursing student at Southern Adventist University.