How low is too low?
When you have diabetes, you’re told over and over to keep your blood sugar low — and you’re hit with an onslaught of drug ads that promise to do just that. But a new study finds that the mantra of “lower, lower, lower,” should be changed — there is such a thing as TOO low when it comes to blood sugar.
Lower your blood sugar, lower your blood sugar, lower your blood sugar!
If you’re diabetic, that’s all you hear — from your doctor, from the media, and from the countless drug ads that promise to slash your blood sugar dramatically.
So you find yourself doing the limbo with your blood sugar, and the big question is: How low can you go?
But there is such a thing as TOO low when it comes to your blood sugar. What’s the worst that could happen if your blood sugar takes too drastic a dip?
Increased risk of death.
Researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine in Wales recently looked at about 48,000 people with low blood sugar and found that the lowest levels were linked with an increased risk of premature death. People taking insulin were at the highest risk.
In the end, they said that intense treatment to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes could be almost as harmful as allowing their blood sugar to skyrocket.
The results of this study echo two earlier studies, both of which found that taking diabetes treatment too far might not help patients and, at worst, could kill them. In one of those trials, the intense blood-sugar management treatment was stopped when there was an unexpected increase in total deaths.
People who had HbAIc levels (that’s the proportion of red blood cells with glucose attached to them) around 7.5% were at the lowest risk of dying from any cause. The risk went up by more than half for those whose blood sugar dipped to 6.4%.
So I decided to check out what the American Diabetes Association recommends when it comes to blood sugar. They recommend a blanket “below 7%” for most patients. It’s right there on their website.
Which had me a little confused when I read a quote from the president of medicine and science for the ADA:
“We need to individualize the A1c target. I don’t think the message should be now everybody should be at 7.5 because that was at their sweet spot. The ADA has it pretty close to 7 — if we can do that safely. So if you can’t get to 7 and need to be at 7.5 because of hypoglycemia, then that’s what you should do.”
Wait a minute. Individualize? Pretty close to 7? If we can do that safely? Right now, I’m looking at a chart from the ADA’s “Choose To Live” (hey, catchy title) guide that has a whole column full of targets for “most people.” This doesn’t seem to be pushing an individualized approach.
And do we really want people shooting for below 7%, with no lower limit at all?
Yes, of course an individualized treatment is the right way to go. We’re all different. Our bodies work in different ways. But when proponents of mainstream medicine, for which the slogan sure seems to be “one size fits all,” start going on about individualization with nothing to back it up, it really makes my blood boil.
There are plenty of natural options for managing diabetes. And there are plenty of doctors skilled in natural medicine who will help you find the right treatment for your individual body. Contact the American College for the Advancement of Medicine at (800)532-3688 or go to www.acam.org to find one.
“Diabetes sugar ‘can go too low’,” BBC News
“Tight Blood Sugar Control May Raise Risk of Death,” HealthDay – Yahoo
“ADA ChooseToLive,” ADA
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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