Maybe most people don’t consider sugar to be a deadly toxin, but when it builds up in the blood, it contributes to the death of thousands of Americans every year.
And now research shows that many of us – and especially people with diabetes – could be healthier and live longer if we made sure we had our blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
Unfortunately, too many of us don’t.
Today, it’s estimated that almost 40 million Americans have diabetes. And about eight million of those people don’t know they have it. That’s why diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US.1
Along with those folks, one in three Americans – about 96 million people – have blood sugar that’s too high and are considered pre-diabetic although they haven’t yet developed full-blown diabetes.2
Frighteningly, our diabetes epidemic is taking a terrible toll on people’s health. A majority of people with diabetes have heart issues. Four in ten suffer chronic kidney disease. More than one in ten have vision problems or are already blind.3
It’s vital to start dealing with these widespread health dangers as soon as you can. And it’s not that hard to improve your life and well-being by taking these health problems seriously.
Hitting Your “Metabolic Targets” Can Save Your Life
The two most important measures you can take are lowering high blood sugar and reducing blood pressure.
These two activities are part of what experts call “hitting metabolic targets” which means getting better control of the processes your body uses to convert the food you eat into energy to fuel your cells.
A study at the University of Gainesville, Florida, that involved more than 400 people with diabetes shows that those with the highest blood sugar who dropped it down to normal levels added 3.8 years to their life expectancy.4
In this research, blood sugar was measured by testing hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – which indicates how much glucose is stuck on the hemoglobin in red blood cells. The measurement reflects a person’s average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The Florida researchers found that the people who had HbA1c levels of 9.9 percent (the highest among the 400 people) who got it down to 5.9 percent (normal is often considered under six percent) had the most substantial health gains.
Those people in the test who reduced the HbA1C from 9.9 percent to 7.7 percent (which is still pretty high) also benefited – increasing their life expectancy by 3.4 years.
Lowering Blood Pressure Helped, Too
Getting your blood pressure down also proved beneficial in this investigation. People who kept their systolic blood pressure (the top number in blood pressure readings) down to around 114 gained about 2 years in life expectancy compared to people whose pressure stayed up around 160. And getting it under 140 also produced some benefit.
In addition, as you might suspect, maintaining a lower weight can yield further health improvements. Compared to people whose BMI (a measure of weight compared with height) was over 41 (which generally means you are obese and very overweight), those with an average BMI of 24 gained almost four more years in life expectancy. Getting down to a BMI of 33 produced extra expected longevity of two years.
Help For Improving Your Metabolism
All this research confirms in concrete terms what we should all know by now – letting your blood sugar and blood pressure climb leads to serious health consequences and curtailed longevity.
But you can use basic healthy lifestyle tools to keep from being a victim of a malfunctioning metabolism. Simple exercise is a great way to start. Just start going for a walk every day. A study at the Texas Southwestern Medical Center shows that just one exercise session can improve your blood sugar and metabolism for up to 48 hours.5
You should also keep to a consistent daily schedule. A study at Duke shows that getting to bed at the same time every night can help control your weight, maintain a healthy blood sugar level, keep your blood pressure down and shrink your risk of a stroke or heart attack.6
And no discussion of blood sugar is complete without discussing processed food.
Avoid Processed Food Like the Plague
The need to stay away from processed food is a warning you’ve heard many times if you’ve been reading our articles about better health. I think that unless you stay away from processed food, being metabolically healthy is just about impossible.
Avoiding processed food is also important for keeping blood pressure under control. A study in Brazil, for instance, shows that folks who eat the most processed food significantly increase their risk for hypertension.7
So, choose to eat foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Fill your plate with more organic, green leafy vegetables and other produce. Eat lean meats and healthy fats, including nuts and olive, avocado or coconut oils. In my experience, making better dietary choices is the number one way to reduce your blood sugar and blood pressure and keep it within the healthy range.
Don’t succumb to the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you make up your mind to make some healthy changes, better health will be your well-earned reward.
- https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html#:~:text=Prediabetes is a serious
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- https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/diabetes-facts-stats.html#:~:text=Key findings
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