GRUNDY COUNTY HEALTH COUNCIL
Karen Wickham, RN
Complications for heart disease increase as your Hemoglobin A1c, or simply A1c, increases. An A1c of 5.7 means you have a 70 percent higher risk for having a heart attack according to Dr. Wes Youngberg, a practicing clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist in Temecula, California. Having an A1c of 5.3 is a higher risk by 40 percent verses and A1c of less than 5.1.
For several years, educational diabetes seminars have been taught in Grundy County. The focus of these seminars is to teach people what causes diabetes and how they can make changes in their lifestyle to improve or reverse this disease. Stephen Wickham, program author, continually reviews the latest research that is published regarding type 2 diabetes care and treatment. Being able to participant in the webinar “E4 Diabetes Solution Boot Camp 101” presented by Dr. Youngberg and his team has been very interesting.
In the presentation “Avoiding Pancreas Burnout and Why the Risks Start at an A1c of 5.0”, Dr. Youngberg reported that “just using medications to reduce the A1c, increases the risk of a heart attack.” On the flip side, reducing your A1c by making lifestyle changes reduces that risk. For years, patients who have diabetes have very willingly taken the medications that have been prescribed to help lower their A1c level. Few patients really understand what the underlying causes of this disease really are and that they can improve their health by making some better choices
By making better choices, the traditional complications of diabetes can be stopped. Dr. Youngberg also reported that the main driver of dementia is the same driver of type 2 diabetes – insulin resistance! I’m at the front of that line for wanting to prevent and reverse any early signs of brain trouble! As a nurse, I have taken care of many patients who had dementia as well as my step-mother who had Alzheimer’s. Watching these persons struggle to communicate and interact with their loved ones is heart breaking. Like diabetes, I have always been told the only thing you could do to help your brain stay healthy was to use it – like working puzzles or other mind challenging games.
Now I know that the same choices that affect my body so I don’t get diabetes, is the same thing that can help my brain to stay healthy. Dr. Youngberg says the first place to start is to know your numbers. So, I had blood drawn to see how my A1c level is doing and found it is not quite as low as Dr. Youngberg recommends. I know that I can make better choices to improve my cardiac risk and my dementia risk!
Before you make any changes to your lifestyle, talk with your doctor. You have hired your physician to manage your care. They understand your medications and they know you best. They should support your decisions to make better lifestyle choices.
The choices you can make to improve your health are to get moving! Include exercise in your lifestyle – playing with the kids, walking the dog, joining a group walk at the park, or even doing some exercises in your living room while watching TV. Secondly, make sure you are not snacking between meals and space your meals 5-6 hours apart. When you snack, you trip hormonal switches in your body which impact how you digest and process your food. Snacking for a diabetic person will cause them to stay diabetic as their liver never has the opportunity to defat.
Choose to do whatever you need to do to get the best sleep possible for at least seven-to-eight hours each night. This might mean staying off the computer or your cellphone within an hour of going to bed so you allow your brain to rest. Another choice you need to make is to learn ways to de-stress. Taking a walk in the evening with someone is a great way to share how your day has gone and to let those stresses go.
Finally, along with getting some good education about any of the chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or heart disease, choose to join a group with similar interests. You will have others to help hold you accountable and to share ideas of what you can do to reach your health goals. Choose Health!