Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Medifast. Opinions are my own.I began my Medifast journey in October and followed it for 3 months. I remained realistic about losing weight for my age (40's) throughout the whole process and learned a whole lot. As I'm typing this and critiquing my before and after photo, my 16 year old came up behind me and said, "Wow, that's a big difference." To me, the most noticeable difference is when I look at my side profile before and afters and it makes me realize that hard work has paid off. Then I started looking at pictures of me from the holidays and for once, I am happy with how I look. Typically when I take a photo, I'd say "Only take it from mid-chest up" because I was embarrassed about my weight (do you do this, too?) But you can tell from the smile on my face that I genuinely felt confident in my own skin. See for yourself: what Medifast is really like - the food is good, it sets you up for success and it's not as difficult as it seems. I learned that you can absolutely discover new ways to maintain your diet through the holidays, but that if you have a momentary lapse in judgement due to complete temptation, that you can still sometimes cheat on your diet and lose weight. Lastly, I learned that any time of year can be your motivation to lose weight, not just January 1st. I'm really happy with my results over 3 months and to be honest, it's given me the boost I need to keep going. If you jump onboard, I strongly encourage you to take pictures of yourself along the way. You look at yourself every day and may not realize the weight melting away in different places on your body. But slap up a side by side, and just like me, you'll notice that it is all making a difference. Try 30 days of Medifast with 7 Days of Free Meals included in the first month's order with a renewal plan. Offer expires April 30, 2018 or get $15 Off orders of $150+ with promo code SAVINGS15 at checkout! Some exclusions apply. Offer expires April 30, 2018. Leave a comment and tell me how you did! Here's the complete journey: How to Lose Weight at Home What the First Few Weeks on Medifast are Really Like How Medifast Works How to Stick To Your Diet During the Holidays Can You Cheat on Your Diet and Still Lose Weight? 5 Tips to Lose Weight Right Now *Average weight loss for Medifast Direct® customers using Medifast Go™ is 11 pounds. Medifast Direct customers are in weight loss, on average, for 8 weeks. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!
(Medifast Cappuccino - so super delish)I hate the word diet. Diet, to me, means going without. When you go without then that is all you can focus on. Can't eat chocolate? Now I want ALL the chocolate every chance I can get. Can't go out to that favorite restaurant? Now I want to camp out and basically live there. I prefer to look at weight loss as a lifestyle change. Lifestyles changes are permanent, diets are temporary. Whether or not you have the money to join a weight loss plan to make that lifestyle change (see below for some discounts for Medifast Go that might help), there are 5 things you can start doing right now to set you on the right path to lose weight. Eat a high-protein breakfast Protein is like the golden child of every weight loss plan. It boosts your metabolism, decreases hunger and as you are losing weight, adds lean muscle. Of course, you don't have to just eat protein, you can drink it, too. Eat small meals every few hours Eating smaller, healthy meals several times a day helps to maintain your blood sugar at a consistent level helping you to avoid energy crashes. It also means you feel full longer decreasing your chances or excessive snacking. Psychologically speaking, you may think that eating more often means you'll gain weight, but as long as it is low calorie, low fat, high protein and minerals, then it is much better than the potential for eating 3 large meals and snacking in between - because let's be honest here, snacking is what often does us in. Decrease Stress Easier said than done, but it's well known that stress can pack on the pounds. If you don't incorporate any form of stress management techniques into your day, then there is no time like now to do things like: download the Calm app to your phone, start going to bed earlier, learning basic yoga, meditation and even just exercising for 30 minutes a day. Some days just chasing my two year old around from room to room for 30 minutes straight and making a game of it counts as my exercise for the day - and it boosts both our moods, too. Drink water before and after meals I'm not a fan of water, however I've come to not mind it as much when adding Medifast's Calorie Burn Mixed Berry Flavor Infuser (it tastes so good!) Drinking water a half hour before a meal acts as an appetite suppressant because you feel fuller prior to your meal, helping you to either eat less or just the proper portion size. Since water has no calories (the flavor infuser I mentioned is only 5 calories btw), you avoid loading up on empty calories that would only contribute to weight gain. Decrease sugar and starch Oh the addiction to sugar is real my friends. Sugar gives you temporary pleasure, but then converts to fat and you have to work that much harder to lose it. Starchy foods also convert to sugar. When you significantly reduce them both, you'll begin to notice the pounds start to melt away. I say reduce because in the real world cutting them out entirely simply means you'll find a way to sneak them and overindulge. All of the above are steps you can take starting today to start your weight loss journey. There's no magic potion, only a committment to becoming healthy. I'm cheering you on! You can also follow my journey from the beginning: How to Lose Weight at Home What the First Few Weeks on Medifast are Really Like How Medifast Works How to Stick To Your Diet During the Holidays Can You Cheat on Your Diet and Still Lose Weight? If you’re interested in joining me on this journey, you can get 7 days of free Medifast meals + bonus gifts + free shipping on your the first order as part of the renewal plan. Or for a limited time you can get 20% off any order of $300 or more + Free Shipping with promo code BIGDEAL20! Valid December 26, 2017 through January 2, 2018 at Midnight ET. *Average weight loss for Medifast Direct® customers using Medifast Go™ is 11 pounds. Medifast Direct customers are in weight loss, on average, for 8 weeks. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Medifast. All thoughts and opinions are my own.The holidays bring on the greatest tests of will power, especially when on you have been following a weight loss plan. Every chocolate dessert or new trendy coffee seem that much more tempting when you know they are forbidden. When choosing to jump on board Medifast Go, I was very much aware that I would be hitting every major holiday along the way. I kept feeling bouts of sadness that I wouldn't be able to partake in a cookie exchange or eat two helpings of my mom's famous chocolate trifle. What would I do when invited to a holiday party? It was completely stressing me out. And this is when any other time I'd fall off the wagon. You, too? But I chose to switch up my mindset and keep reminding myself that I am doing this to sustain the life of someone else (kidney donation if you haven't followed from the beginning) and so giving up is not an option. Someone's life depends on me. Then I remembered that Medifast has so many awesome Meal Makeovers in their Simply Well cookbook and on their blog. Below are a few holiday-themed recipes from Medifast that will not only keep you on track with your weight loss goals, but they taste soooo good! Pumpkin Spiced Latte 1 Medifast Meal | 2½ Condiments Yield: 1 serving Total Time: 5 minutes Ingredients ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond or cashew milk 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree ½ cup strong brewed coffee 1 packet of Medifast® Gingerbread Softbake Directions Combine milk and pumpkin puree in a microwave-safe mug. Microwave for one minute, and stir. Add coffee and the Gingerbread Softbake, and stir until smooth. Serve immediately! Pumpkin Pie Whoopie Pies Yield: 4 servings (2 whoopie pies per serving) Per serving: 1 Medifast Meal | ½ Healthy Fat | 3 Condiments Ingredients 2 packets Medifast Spiced Pancakes 2 packet Medifast Gingerbread Soft Bake ½ tsp baking powder 6 Tbsp egg whites ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond or cashew milk 2 tsp vegetable oil ½ cup whipped topping ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice Cooking spray Directions Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine pancake mixture, soft bake mixture and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl. Add egg whites, milk, and oil, and mix until a batter-like consistency. Divide batter evenly among eight slots of a lightly-greased muffin tin (should fill only a third of each slot). Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Meanwhile, combine whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice. Once cooled, slice each muffin in half horizontally. Spread one tablespoon of whipped topping on the bottom half of each muffin, and top with the remaining muffin halves. Cauliflower Rice Stuffing Yield: 2 servings Per serving: 3 Green | 2 Healthy Fats | 3 Condiments Ingredients 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 1 cup diced celery 1 cup diced mushrooms 1/3 cup diced yellow onion 2 oz chopped walnuts 4 cups riced cauliflower ½ cup chicken stock 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary ½ Tbsp poultry seasoning ½ tsp salt Directions Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, mushrooms, onion, and walnuts. Sauté for five minutes. Add cauliflower rice, sauté for an additional two minutes. Add stock and seasoning; mix well. Cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Frozen Pumpkin Shake Per serving: 1 Medifast Meal | 1 1/2 Condiments Ingredients 1 Medifast Vanilla Shake 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1/4 tsp cinammon 1/2 cup cold water 1/2 cup ice Directions Mix all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. The bottom line is that age old saying - everything in moderation. Adjust recipes to make them healthier, don't over-eat and eat smaller portion sizes. You'll thank yourself once the holidays are over and you may just find some really grest recipes that continue past the holidays and find their way into your everyday diet. Now for my 6 week stats – Starting: Weight: 183 lbs BMI: 35.7% (I’m 5′) Bust: 43″ Waist: 44″ Hips: 46″ Butt: 47″ Arm: 13″ Legs: 25″ Neck: 13.5″ Six week mark: Weight: 176.5 BMI: 34.5% Bust: 42″ Waist: 41″ Hips: 43″ Butt: 44″ Arm: 12″ Legs: 24″ Neck: 13.5″ TOTAL: 6.5 lbs lost, 1.2% BMI loss, and 12 inches lost. Follow my journey from the beginning: How to Lose Weight at Home What the First Few Weeks on Medifast are Really Like How Medifast Works If you’re interested in joining me on this journey, you can get 7 days of free Medifast meals + bonus gifts + free shipping on your the first order as part of the renewal plan. If you’ve already worked this weight loss program with success, I would love your encouragement and tips in the comments! *Average weight loss for Medifast Direct® customers using Medifast Go™ is 11 pounds. Medifast Direct customers are in weight loss, on average, for 8 weeks. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Medifast. All thoughts and opinions are my own.About this time last year, I began researching how to become a living kidney donor. I knew I was in good health, I was fairly confident I would pass every physical and psychological test, but what I didn't know was that my weight would be my biggest obstacle. Fast forward to a few months ago and me sobbing into the phone while the Living Kidney Donor Coordinator explained to me that my weight needed to drop and my A1c needed to lower (they are tied to each other, so when the weight drops, typically your A1c does as well), and until then, I wasn't going to be able to proceed with the living donation process. After 3 months of going through test after test, I ugly cried, so thank God she couldn't see me. I was all in for this donation process and now my sweet tooth was catching up with me and preventing me from doing something for someone else. I tried completely overhauling how I ate. I got a FitBit and set goals for sleep, steps and activity. I started working out. However, it took me 4 months just to lose 12 pounds. Friends urged me to get a thyroid test and check to see if I was insulin resistent. Both came back completely normal. I went to a dietician who was completely stumped. I was doing everything she would recommend. She only saw me once because she felt I knew what to do, even though it wasn't moving the needle on the scale. To say I was frustrated was an understatement. I slowly began to fall back into my old eating habits and the 12 pounds came back. I felt defeated. I hated how I looked, no doubt, but I felt even more awful that I couldn't donate to someone in need. Over the last few months I noticed that my Pastor became a Medifast rep. He lost a lot of weight and looks great. Others in my church have also done the program and looked great. However, if being skeptical was a full time sport, then I was in the game. So I did my research. A few times a week during my downtime, I would look up various aspects of the program, as well as, before and after stories from those who had done it themselves. Working 50 hours a week and managing a household of 7 means I don't have time to go to the gym. I also don't have time to do weight loss meetings. Trying to figure out what it will take to make me lose enough weight to begin the living donor process again is overwhelming and exhausting. So, when the opportunity came before me to try Medifast Go, I decided to go for it. I know that in order to lose weight from home, I have to be organized. I'm going to be honest, I love that the meals are basically grab-n-go and that I don't need to think if something has too much fat, is too high carb or if it lacks the macronutrients I need. However, there's still things I need to do to ensure success. Be Realistic When I ordered the food, I did so thinking ahead to when I go into maintanence. I like to eat things that taste sweet, I love chocolate, but I also like savory items. So the food I ordered matched that vs trying to act like I was going to cut out all "treats" and be super good. I know me, and I would perseverate on those "missing" treats and likely cheat. The Medifast Go program even has chocolate chip pancakes - something we eat once or twice a month in my house. Additionally, be realistic about every aspect of real life while doing this weight loss program. For example, can you do 45 minutes a day of exercise? For me, that's mostly unrealistic, but 10-15 minutes of HIIT is doable. Set a Goal I actually have two weight loss goals - my "ideal" and my "realistic" goal. Ideally, I'd like to lose 70 pounds. Realistically, I'd be OK with losing 30. This helps you to set your expectations. Set a goal when it comes to your daily activity. I work at home from my desk, so this sedentary job makes it difficult to get in 10K steps daily, but 6500 is more realistic. (I tested my baseline one day and it was 1500 steps. So pathetic.) I can make sure I get there by adding in some fitness before I start my work day. Plan Plan your day the night before. Decide what time you will start eating and which meals you will eat. The Medifast Go plan requires eating 6 times a day. I'm lucky if I can remember to eat 3 times a day. Spacing out eating every 2-3 hours requires advanced planning. One thing that comes in handy? My Alexa Dot. I simply tell Alexa to set a timer for 2 hours from the time I first eat. Each time I eat, I tell her to reset the time. This keeps me on track. (You can also ask, "Alexa, how much time is left until my timer goes off?" and she'll tell you.) Keep a Weight Loss Journal Keeping track of what you eat, your exercise, your weight and measurements will help to keep you accountable and on track. And as you begin to lose weight and inches, you'll stay motivated. Today I started this program and I will be doing it for the next 3 months. I'll be checking in every few weeks to update you on my progress. It is my hope that by the end I can say I'm moving forward with the living donor tests so that I can donate my kidney. Try 30 days of Medifast with 7 Days of Free Meals included in the first month's order with a renewal plan. Offer expires April 30, 2018 or get $15 Off orders of $150+ with promo code SAVINGS15 at checkout! Some exclusions apply. Offer expires April 30, 2018. If you've already worked this weight loss program with success, I would love your encouragement and tips in the comments! How to Lose Weight at Home What the First Few Weeks on Medifast are Really Like How Medifast Works How to Stick To Your Diet During the Holidays Can You Cheat on Your Diet and Still Lose Weight? 5 Tips to Lose Weight Right Now *Average weight loss for Medifast Direct® customers using Medifast Go™ is 11 pounds. Medifast Direct customers are in weight loss, on average, for 8 weeks. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!
If you just received test results back from your doctor and he/she has indicated that you have an elevated HbA1C (or A1c for short), you may be wondering what that means and just what you can do to lower it to within normal range.
Back in December I decided I wanted to be a Living Kidney Donor. I'm at a point in my life where I'm no longer satisfied with just living a basic life. I want to do more, see more and touch more lives before my time is up.
To become a candidate for living kidney donation you have to go through a battery of tests over the course of several months. The very first round of bloodwork includes testing your HbA1C level to determine if you have diabetes or are considered "pre-diabetic."
Obviously you don't have to be looking to donate a kidney to have this test done, as it's something your doctor will do when you have blood sugar issues. Mine was in the pre-diabetic range (5.8%) and it left me trying to figure it out what I needed to do to lower it.
What is HbA1C?
Dr. Manisha Ghei of Praana Integrative Medicine & Holistic Health Center, PLLC told me that, "HbA1C is a test of hemoglobin glycation and hemoglobin is present inside our Red Blood Cells (RBCs). Our RBCs regenerate every 120 days so it will take A1C approximately 3 months to change. A1c is a test of average long-term blood sugar control over the three months prior to the date of the blood test."
Think about what you eat over the course of 3 months. Do you have a few "bad days" where you emotionally eat or go on a chocolate and fried food binge? No? Just me? Well for those of you not in the big fat liars club, Dr. Manisha says that since it is a test of an average of your levels, even a few very high or very low blood sugar readings over the 120 day cycle will unfortunately show up in the average.
Kelli Shallal, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer, further explained that, "Hemoglobin is protein found in the red blood cells which carries oxygen, but in an irreversible process it can bind to sugar in the blood helping lower the free sugar in the blood. The levels will not lower until that red blood cell is replaced, usually every 2-3 months. In the mean time the goal is to prevent this process from occuring in new red blood cells."
How is HbA1C measured?
Stephanie Dunne, Registered Dietitian and Integrative & Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, told me that hemoglobin A1C measures how much hemoglobin in the blood is glycated, thereby giving an estimate of how much glucose has been in the blood.
This is why the number is reported as a percentage, as it represents the percentage of hemoglobin that is glycated. When you see the A1C number as a percentage, this can be translated to the average blood glucose as follows: 5% A1C = average blood glucose of 97 mg/dL 6% = 126 mg/dL 7% = 154 mg/dL 8% = 183 mg/dL 9% = 212 mg/dL 10% = 240 mg/dL
The reason A1C is a better measure of long-term blood glucose levels than a simple fasting blood glucose number is because a single number only tells you what is happening in that moment. As the body becomes resistant to insulin (also known as prediabetic), the fasting blood glucose number may still be normal, but the A1C number may be inching up as the blood glucose level rises after meals.
The A1C number tells us what's happening over a period of time. A normal A1C is anything under 5.7%. A level of 5.8 - 6.4% is considered pre-diabetic and above that means you either have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
What's the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, Dr. Manisha explains, is an auto-immune condition where the body's immune system starts attacking itself, specifically the pancreas in this case, so eventually there is absolutely no production of insulin from the pancreas. This leads to severe elevation of blood sugars due to inability of the cells to take in sugar unless an external source of insulin is provided to the patient.
This disease usually presents in childhood or young adulthood. Treatment with insulin becomes an absolute necessity for survival. Conventional medicine has no treatment for reversal of this disease.
She told me that Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes. It is not an autoimmune disease and usually, but not always, presents in adulthood, although the incidence of onset during childhood is now on the rise.
This disease starts with cells becoming insulin resistant where they stop responding to insulin and the sugar, though present in high amounts in the blood, cannot enter into our cells and provide energy. Initially this disease can be treated and reversed with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes and if needed, blood sugar lowering oral medications. Gradually over time, the insulin production reduces drastically and insulin treatment may eventually be needed.
First and foremost, create a plan of action with your doctor. For me, that meant further testing to see what my insulin level was (e.g. was I insulin resistant) and a thyroid test to see if my thyroid was contributing. Once both of my tests came back in the normal range, my doctor then scheduled me to see a nutritionist.
Dr. Manisha suggests keeping your blood sugar consistently in a near normal range over the 120 day period to get a true picture of the control of your pre-diabetes or diabetes over the three months. That means no binging on your favorite high-sugar, high-carb, high-calorie comfort foods.
Easier said than done, I know.
"Eating clean is the way to go, I avoid all things processed and focus on protein and fat. The majority of my carbs come from vegetables. Also, being that I am a type 1, I correct anything over 120," said Allison Caggia, editorial director of Diabetes Daily and Type 1 Diabetic. "Keeping your blood sugar in range at nighttime is also important. This tight control will definitely be reflected in your A1C."
Allison recommends the app MyFitnessPal to help track macros, nutrients and calories. I recently downloaded this app and was so surprised where sugar, fat and carbs would sneak in. So many things in the app are free and will give you a better understanding of the nutritional value of the food you are eating.
"The first thing to cut out is boxed cereals, white bread, white pasta, desserts, pastries and soda pop," reports Michael Ham of Leisure Guy and Type 2 diabetic. Soda, whether it contains calories or not are to be avoided, "The artificial sweeteners sort of trick the body and also maintain the taste for sweets."
He recommends staying away from all added sugars. Ham also has a "no bites" rule - "I put food into my mouth only at mealtimes and for the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. At all other times, no food allowed, not even a taste of a sample at the grocery store."
Ms. Shallal offered these tips:
1. Limit intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Stick to lower glycemic index whole foods such as whole grains, beans, whole potatoes (cooked), and limited quantities of fruit for carbohydrates.
2. Try not to eat more than 30-45 grams of carbohydrates per meal.
3. Never eat a carbohydrate on its own, pair it with a protein or healthy fat.
4. Exercise regularly. Both strength training and cardio are important for promoting pathways that help regulate blood glucose.
Wait, wait, wait did she just say I could eat carbs?
So many friends and family who offered advice told me to nix carbs altogether, including vegetables that are considered starchy, as they'll convert to sugar. But she explained that whole grains and whole potatoes are "whole foods" that also contain fiber that will slow down the blood sugar response and are not the same types of carbs that, say, you get from noshing out on a bag of chips. She reminded me that, "a balanced diet is best for long term weight loss."
Weight loss is directly related to A1C change, Ms. Shallal (and my own doctor) confirmed. In my case, I had been lowering calories, but increased carbs and although I was losing weight, it caused my A1C level to increase to 6%.
The best thing is to aim for balance, protein, healthy fat, and 30-45 grams of fiber rich low glycemic index carbohydrates per meal.
What about fruit? Doesn't fruit contain sugar? Ms. Shallal clarified that fruit is considered a simple carbohydrate and should be eaten in small amounts timed around your workouts. Berries are best, but whichever fruit you choose, eat it in moderation and don't overdo it, but avoid fruit juice and dried fruits.
Once a dietary change is made, it takes 3 months for the A1C to fully adapt. This is because red blood cells live an average of 3 months in the blood stream. As such, after 3 months, every red blood cell will be new and the A1C number will reflect the dietary change.
Of course, all red blood cells are not created or recycled at the same time, so the number will slowly change over the 3 months as the existing red blood cells are recycled and new red blood cells are created, Ms. Dunne explained. She continued that in order to lower the A1C number, a person has to lower the average amount of glucose in the blood for an extended period of time.
What this means is that huge spikes in blood sugar must be avoided as these spikes increase the average over time. The best way to lower blood glucose is to avoid carbohydrate containing foods that are easily digested and absorbed. The faster carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into the blood stream, the bigger the blood sugar spike will be.
So as Ms. Shallal mentioned you can eat a simple carb like an apple, or a complex carb like a whole potato because it is also high in fiber. Ms. Dunne advises that if you do consume easily digestible carbohydrate containing foods, be sure to eat other foods that will slow down the overall digestion and absorption process. This includes protein and fat containing foods, or foods high in fiber.
By the way, this is why complex carbs like whole grains and vegetables don't cause a blood sugar spike - the fiber in the food gets in the way of the other carbohydrates being digested and absorbed. But that doesn't mean go tap out on cake and white flour foods like bread and pasta because these are the big no-no's and will cause your blood sugar to spike.
Ms. Dunne explained that if a person changes their diet to have more protein and fat containing foods, as well as carbohydrate containing foods with a lot of water and fiber (like vegetables, fruits and legumes), then the amount of glucose to be absorbed goes down. The reality is that glucose metabolism and insulin production are not simple things, she reminded me.
What causes the A1C level to rise?
Whenever there is excessive amounts of sugar in the blood stream, Dr. Manisha explains, it attaches to hemoglobin in our Red Blood Cells (RBCs). This causes a change in the protein structure of the hemoglobin molecule. We call this change, glycation, and the glycated hemoglobin is the known as Hemoglobin A1C.
The higher the sugar in the blood, the more it attaches to hemoglobin, thus the higher the HbA1C. "Because we are incredible systems of thousands of interworking parts, there are many things that can cause blood glucose to go up," Ms. Dunne explained.
Some other factors that can cause an A1C number specifically to increase are:
- Pregnancy Iron deficiency anemia
- Lead poisoning Uremia (abnormally high levels of waste products in the blood)
- Hemoglobinopathies (genetic disorders of hemoglobin, like sickle-cell anemia)
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Sleep apnea
Beyond those things that are specific to an increased A1C, the following chronic conditions can cause blood glucose levels to be higher:
- Stress or other causes of amped up adrenal glands
- Hyperthyroidism Pancreatitis (acute or chronic inflammation of the pancreas)
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Chronic use of some medications, including steroids, epinephrine, furosemide, thiazides, phenytoin and statins
- Chromium deficiency Inflammatory bowel conditions
- Asthma Toxicity from environmental toxins like plastics and polluted air
- Excess testosterone (when produced internally, as opposed to using steroids as mentioned above)
So, if someone was eating well and sticking to the low glycemic index, she recommends to have your doctor start looking for other potential causes that aren't related to the diet.
Another area that would contribute to elevated blood sugars and diabetes are nutrient deficiencies of certain key nutrients like chromium, magnesium and certain B vitamins that help the body process the sugar load adequately.
If someone is deficient in these due to malabsorption or any other reason, their ability to handle even normal amounts of carbohydrate loads will be reduced, explains Dr. Manisha. To Ms. Dunne's point above about stress, Dr. Manisha concurs and says we cannot underestimate the role of stress in raising blood sugars.
Under stress our body produces the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol causes the release of sugar from stores in the liver. Unless we are able to lower cortisol levels with mindfulness and relaxation techniques on a daily basis, this will continue to not only cause elevated blood sugars but also possibly to high blood pressure, lowered immune function and many other chronic diseases.
Addressing some of the above root causes can most certainly lead to resolution of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Sandra J. Eleczko, DDS, brought up another good point - periodontal disease and diabetes are interrelated and will effect each other.
Good oral hygiene is essential to maintaining a healthy A1C. The bacteria and the inflammatory mediators that these bacteria stimulate will enter the blood stream and effect the entire body, reeking havoc everywhere in the body. So one of the things that you need to do to decrease your A1C is to see a dentist and have your teeth cleaned and make sure you floss every day. Can your A1C still be pre-diabetic if you lead a healthy lifestyle?
According to Dr. Manisha, a "healthy lifestyle" may differ from person to person. Her area of expertise is Functional Medicine, which involves an individualized approach to any chronic disease including diabetes mellitus.
"In Functional Medicine, we believe that it is important to get down to the root cause of any disease and the root cause(s) for the very same disease may vary in different individuals. One of the areas to look at, regarding the root cause of diabetes could be food allergies and food sensitivities which can both impact gut health and cause inflammation."
In her experience with her patients, she has seen blood sugars drop dramatically once the trigger foods are eliminated from that person's diet. She believes that testing for trigger foods can have benefits in the management of diabetes.
Gut health should also be looked at with a comprehensive digestive stool analysis, so that if there is gut inflammation or imbalance in the gut bacteria, it can be addressed as well.
Some books Ham recommends reading to understand sugar are:
“Why We Get Fat and What to Do about It,” by Gary Taubes
"The Case Against Sugar" by Gary Taubes
"The Big Fat Surprise" by Nina Teicholz
I also plan to get "Zero Sugar Diet" by David Zinczenko and "Blast the Sugar Out" by Dr. Ian K Smith because I honestly feel like I have no idea how to do this when there is sugar in absolutely everything.
I hope this article was able to help you. If it did, please share it with others.