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Are you becoming a diabetic?

Fasting plasma glucose levels, previously thought to be okay, prove to be telling for future diabetes.

A fasting plasma glucose of less than 100 mg/dl is normally considered healthy. Only those with fasting levels between 100 and 126 mg/dl are classified as pre-diabetic, with those with levels above 126 mg/dl being clinically diagnosed as diabetic.

A study published in the October 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine provides evidence that a fasting plasma glucose level above 90 mg/dl in younger males dramatically increases the risk of developing diabetes. The results of the 12-year follow-up study of over 13,000 male subjects provides evidence that a level of 90 mg/dl be considered as the breakpoint between normal healthy individuals and those who are pre-diabetic and at risk for developing non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM).

Although fasting plasma glucose was an independent risk factor, other risk factors for developing NIDDM include being overweight or obese and high blood triglyceride levels.

Why is it important to maintain a constant blood glucose concentration, particularly since most tissues can shift to utilization of fats and proteins for energy in the absence of glucose? The answer is that glucose is the only nutrient that normally can be used by the brain, retina in the eyes, and germinal epithelium of the gonads in sufficient quantities to supply them optimally with their required energy.

On the other hand, it is important that blood glucose don't get too high. When blood glucose levels rise the osmotic pressure in the extracellular fluid rises causing cellular dehydration and decreased function. In addition, excess blood glucose causes loss of glucose in the urine causing osmotic diuresis by the kidneys, which can deplete the body of fluid and electrolytes.

Whether your are healthy, pre-diabetic, or clinically determined to be diabetic... by maintaining a healthy diet, losing weight, and exercising you can achieve an optimal plasma glucose level without the need of prescription medications. In changing your lifestyle you will not only lower your plasma glucose levels but also your risk of disease or disability.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 10.29.06