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Ellen's Little Soapbox

© The material on this page is copyright by Ellen Ussery 2009.

This is a blog-type page in which Ellen will from time to time share with us her perspectives on diet, health, and illness.

January 20, 2009: The Case For Blood Sugar Testing at Home

You might see that title and think: “This is not something I need to consider because the doctor tests my blood sugar once a year and it is fine. Besides, I have other things to worry about like my painful feet, my cholesterol , my deteriorating bones, the fact that I don't sleep well, my carpal tunnel syndrome or frozen shoulder, my chronic UTI’s, my mood swings and my chronic fatigue.”

Well, think again. All of the above can be caused by elevated blood sugars that you may not even know you have. That is because doctors only look at your fasting blood sugar to see if you have become diabetic. But in most cases the fasting blood sugar does not show any irregularities until long after your post meal blood sugars have been dangerously elevated on a regular basis.

Any time your blood sugar is above 140 you can incur the same kind of damage that is listed among the standard diabetic complications: neuropathy (which includes not only painful feet, hands and arms, but damage to the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions like blood pressure, heartbeat, sexual response, and the movement of food through the digestive system); tendon problems (carpal tunnel, trigger finger, frozen shoulder, iliotibial band/tensor fascialata syndrome); retinopathy; and thickening of the arteries . So by the time your fasting blood sugar indicates that there may be problems, much damage has already been done to your system.

It is also possible that your fasting blood sugar may never show any abnormality while your post meal blood sugar will frequently be out of range.

So it seems to me that if you are having any of the problems listed above, if you are seriously overweight, or if you are getting older—monitoring your post meal blood sugars makes good sense. If you do this for a few days, while continuing to eat your normal meals, you can learn whether you need to take action in order to bring the numbers back in line. Many diabetics have found that by getting their blood sugar under 140 on a regular basis they have turned around these “complications” that are thought to be an inevitable part of their disease.

The first step in bringing blood sugar under control is reducing your carbohydrates. You can read about that and much else of value on the web sites I refer to below.

Jenny Ruhl, who has an extenisve website for diabetics, describes how to monitor your post meal blood sugars. Elsewhere on the site she discusses studies showing the risk for many of these so called complications in people whose blood sugar is deemed normal by their doctors. She also discusses the little known connection between BG (blood glucose or sugar) and tendon problems such as carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder, trigger finger—and the fact that the standard treatment with cortizone can raise your BG and thereby ultimately worsen your initial problem.

There is strong reason to believe that the entire lipid/cholesterol theory of heart disease is totally off the mark; and that the real culprit—or at least, one of them—is elevated blood sugars and the elevated insulin that accompanies it .

According to Dr. Richard Bernstein in his book, The Diabetes Solution (Little, Brown and Company, revised edition 2007), the particular forms of LDL that are harmful to arteries are: the small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and glycated LDL. All of these increase as blood sugar increases. In addition, independantly of blood sugars, high serum insulin levels—caused by high carbohydrate diets—bring about increased production of the potentially hazardous small dense LDL particles and enlargement of the cells lining the arteries.

Dr. Bernstein has reduced these harmful LDL’s in his diabetic patients not by giving them statins, but by bringing their blood sugars into a consistantly narrow range. Many non-diabetics who have taken dietary measures to bring their mildly elevated BG numbers into range have seen their LDL numbers improve. C reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, also often improves when BG is brought under control.

Dr. Mike Eades argues powerfully that it is unnoticed blood sugar elevations that are the cause of heart disease.

I highly recommend reading widely on Dr. Eades's site. Dr. Bernstein's entire book is available on line.