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Most of us don't know where our blood sugar levels should really be in order to stay safe and healthy. I believe that diabetes persists because of how it is defined. Because most of us don't realize that elevated blood sugars (even if they are in the "normal" range) can be very dangerous to the body.
In this article, I explain why we need to be more careful about our levels, what the ideal range really is, and how to actually get there.
I will cover:
- What is type 2 diabetes?
- How do we define type 2 diabetes?
- What is an ideal blood sugar?
- The dangerous complications of high blood sugars.
- Why diabetes mellitus is persisting.
- What you can do if your blood sugars are too high.
- The problems with conventional advice.
- What actually works?
- Key takeaways.
Let's get started by going over the basics. Let's discuss how glucose, blood sugars, and insulin work, and what type 2 diabetes really is.
What is type 2 diabetes?
When the body is functioning in a healthy way, it keeps our blood sugar levels in a normal range.
So every time we eat, we break our food down into glucose, and that sugar enters the bloodstream. When our blood glucose rises, this triggers the pancreas (an organ located underneath our left ribcage) to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin's job is to bring blood sugar levels down.
Unfortunately, things don't always go smoothly with this process, because sometimes we put too much pressure on our bodies with the dietary choices we make.
A series of things take place when we eat in an unhealthy way:
- When we eat too much sugar (and too many carbs) over a long period of time, our body can't keep up with the demand. There is too much glucose floating around in the body and complications occur.
- What happens next is that our cells start to resist insulin. The insulin receptors on our cells stop responding to it.
- The pancreas tries to make more insulin as a result, but this doesn't help.
- In the end, we have a whole lot of insulin, but it doesn't work properly. This is called insulin resistance.
- If this problem with the insulin keeps up, we can no longer properly get rid of excess glucose in the blood. And so we end up with high levels of blood sugar.
- When our blood sugars are constantly elevated and uncontrolled (hyperglycemia), we end up becoming diabetic.
Type 2 diabetes is a state in which you are unable to maintain normal blood sugars. It occurs when we eat too much sugar and carbs, and our insulin is no longer able to function properly.
But what exactly is too high of blood sugar? What makes it so that you will get a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and become a diabetic?
How do we define type 2 diabetes?
The definition of type 2 diabetes has changed over time.
Between the years of 1979 and 1997, a normal fasting blood glucose level was below 140 mg/dl. If you had blood sugar levels over 140 mg/dl on two separate occasions, you were considered diabetic.
In 1997, however, they changed the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. After that, if you had anything greater than 126 mg/dl fasting glucose, you were diabetic. So overnight no millions of people were then considered diabetic.
The problem with this definition of type 2 diabetes is that leads people to believe that everything is okay, as long as they are below 126 mg/dl.
But it is not that simple, and it is not that clear cut.
Just because you aren't technically in the diabetic range doesn't mean you aren't at an unhealthy, dangerous level of blood sugar.
What is an ideal blood sugar?
So most of us know that having diabetes is not good and can lead to serious complications and risks. But did you know that even having elevated blood sugars in the pre-diabetic or high-normal range is also not good?
In fact, the normal, healthy, ideal level of fasting glucose is far below the defined diagnosis for type 2 diabetes.
The ideal range for fasting glucose is 75-80 mg/dl.
You might go up into the 90s, but really below 85 mg/dl is where you ideally want to be. But because type 2 diabetes is defined as anything higher than 126 mg/dl, most people think they are safe as long as they don't have glucose numbers that high.
And that is why we have such a problem.
People do not understand that they need to be much lower than the official diabetes diagnosis level to actually be healthy and stay safe.
It is important to understand that even slightly elevated blood sugars are really bad for the body.
The dangers of high blood sugars
When your blood sugars become elevated above that normal range (even if you aren't diabetic), it can be harmful, dangerous, and lead to serious complications.
For example, there was a study in 2,000 men that showed if your blood glucose is over 85 mg/dl, your risk of death from a heart attack goes up by 40%.
That is a huge increase and not something to be taken lightly. Fasting glucose levels in the high but still "normal" range increase your risk for serious problems.
High glucose in the blood is toxic to the body. It can lead to dangerous complications and long-term damage. It can do things like:
- Destroy your organs.
- Damage your arteries and put your heart in danger.
- Impair nerve function.
- Harm your eyes.
- And so much more.
It is really important to keep your blood sugars controlled. Unfortunately, many of us walk around not even knowing that we are at high risk and need to do something about our glucose levels.
The reason why diabetes is persisting
Type 2 diabetes is persisting because most people do not know what their blood sugar levels should actually be. They do not know what normal really is.
Most people think it is okay, and even maybe healthy, if their fasting blood glucose is up at 100 mg/dl or even 125 mg/dl. Technically, that is under the level to be diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus. But that doesn't actually mean it is healthy.
Anything above 85 mg/dl should be concerning, and it should be addressed.
Because when it isn't, you are basically on an upward trend that will just land you with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, prescriptions for medications, and serious complications if you don't change your trajectory. If you are above 85 mg/dl, it is NOT GOOD. You should start taking action to reduce your blood sugars and heal your insulin problems. Otherwise, you will end up with diabetes mellitus.
Fortunately, you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to get your numbers back to that 70-85 mg/dl range. But you've got to turn to the right recommendations.
What can you do if your blood sugars are too high?
If your blood sugars are higher than normal – even if you are technically below the type 2 diabetes definition – what should you do? Do you turn to medication, low-calorie diets, or what? What is the best thing you can do?
The absolute best thing you can do is to turn to your diet. Changing the way you eat can change your health.
And it all comes down to this: you must get sugar out of the diet, and you must get rid of carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, if you turn to the "authority" on diabetes for diet recommendations, you might be led astray.
Conventional advice has many issues
The American Diabetes Association does say that dietary changes can help you with your type 2 diabetes and can help get your glucose numbers under control. But the problem is that their advice has some real issues and misses the important points.
It misses the most important thing: removing sugar completely and removing carbohydrates.
I want to share with you what they have to say as far as dietary recommendations, and why I believe these tips don't really cut it. Here are some of their top recommendations, and the problems I have with each.
|The recommendation||The problem|
|1. Avoid or cut back on soft drinks and juices.||Why just cut back? You need to avoid these completely if you have high blood sugars.|
|2. Choose low-calorie snacks like popcorn.||Calories aren't the problem. It's the type of calories you are consuming that is the issue. It is the amount of carbs you really need to pay attention to.|
|3. Eat at least one vegetable a day.||You need to eat way more than that if you want to get healthy. You need the nutrients in vegetables like potassium to help fix insulin resistance. 7-10 cups of vegetables per day is what you really need.|
|4. Be careful with salad toppings, because calories can add up fast.||Again, the focus is on the calories. This is not the issue.|
|5. Choose fruit instead of cakes, pies, and desserts.||The fruit is better than refined sugars, but it still spikes insulin. It is better to just avoid most fruits (with berries being a healthy exception).|
|6. Eat smaller servings of usual foods.||They aren't telling you to change your diet or improve your food choices, only to eat less of the unhealthy junk you are already eating. This won't cut it; you need to start making healthy choices.|
|7. When eating out, share with family.||Here they are again, focusing on calories rather than the type of foods you are including in your diet.|
|8. Be mindful of how much fat you use in your cooking.||Fats are not the problem. Fat actually has the lowest effect on insulin and blood sugars compared to other foods. High-fat diets aren't the problem. In fact, healthy fats can actually help.|
|9. Avoid foods high in saturated fats like butter.||Again, fats aren't a major issue. Butter can actually help you with weight loss and getting healthy.|
|10. Use healthy fats like canola, vegetable oils, and olive oil.||Except for olive oil, these oils are not healthy choices and should not be recommended. Canola and most vegetable oils like soy oil are GMO and are high in omega-6 fatty acids (making them inflammatory). They can actually contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.|
|11. Start with one meat-free meal per week, and try plant-based proteins instead.||Meat is not the issue, especially if it is high quality and grass-fed. Again, they aren't talking about the real problem, which is carbs.|
|12. Eat lean meats.||As I've mentioned, we need fats. In fact, lean proteins are actually higher on the insulin index than fatty meats. This means they spike insulin more than fatty meats.|
|13. Cut back on processed meats that are high in fat and sodium.||Again, fat is not the issue. Neither is salt. It all comes down to carbs.|
|14. Eat fewer and smaller portion sizes of desserts and sweets.||This is a good start, but why even allow this junk at all? Why not say 'eliminate' or 'avoid' instead of 'eat less?' This only encourages us to eat these foods, and any at all can be really damaging.|
In the end, these recommendations take the focus off of the real problem: carbs.
These recommendations focus on reducing calories, reducing fats, and reducing meats. But calories, fats, and meats are not the issue. Too many carbs and sugars are the issue. We must get rid of sugars and drastically reduce our carb intake in order to become healthy again.
Read more about this topic here:
- Forget about calories, reduce sugars!
- 13 things that spike insulin.
- Fat is not the cause of insulin resistance.
What actually works to lower blood sugars?
The real solution to lowering your insulin and blood sugars is to remove sugar and carbs from your diet.
When you do that, your insulin levels go down and it starts working properly again. And as a result, you can bring your fasting glucose back to the normal, healthy range.
And what is a great diet that focuses on removing sugar and carbs? The keto diet.
I've observed that the keto diet can be really beneficial when it comes to fixing blood sugar issues and healing insulin. Reversing diabetes is possible. And the ketogenic diet can help support you in doing just that.
To learn more about the low-carb, high-fat keto diet, go here. It can help you with not just your diabetes, but also with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health complications. All without medication.
Here is a review of the main takeaways.
- Type 2 diabetes is really a problem with insulin function.
- Diabetes persists because we don't understand what healthy blood sugar levels really are. We think it is okay if our numbers are above 100 mg/dl, when really that is unhealthy and will eventually lead to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
- The ideal blood glucose level we should aim for is 70-85 mg/dl. That is where you really want to be.
- If you want to reduce your blood sugars and avoid diabetes mellitus, you need to look to your diet.
- Removing carbs and sugars is the #1 thing you can do to fix insulin and blood sugar problems.
- Any dietary recommendations that don't focus on carbs are missing the real root of the issue.
- The keto diet can help support you in avoiding diabetes and staying in a healthy range. And it can help prevent serious complications and health concerns like obesity, heart disease, and more.
I cannot emphasize this enough. You MUST get rid of carbs and sugars. This is the single best way to bring down your blood glucose to a healthy level.
That's why if I had type 2 diabetes or even prediabetes, I would follow the keto diet. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is a great option for diabetics.
It helps you to lower insulin levels, which is the key to preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes.
For more information on how to get started with the keto diet, read more here:
- Keto diet plan overview.
- Healthy keto plan.
- Ketosis approved foods.
- How to do ketosis.
- Ketogenic diet recipes.
What are your blood glucose levels? Are you in the healthy range, or do you have prediabetes or even diabetes?
Consider trying the keto diet to address this issue and help improve your condition. Give it a try, and then leave me a comment below sharing your results.