Diabetes represents a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose. The bad news is diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death. The good news is people can take steps to avoid the disease through diet and lifestyle changes.
A key word to know to understand diabetes is glycation. Glycation is simply the attachment of sugar to our protein molecules. Ninty-nine percent of our cellular metabolism is carried out by proteins, they are critical to the process of life. High levels of glucose and insulin result in a high rate of glycation. The higher the blood sugar level, the higher the rate of glycation. Glycation makes proteins less efficient which leads to cellular dysfunction, tissue inflammation, and the beginning of degenerative disease.
The process of glycation is simply a model for rapid aging. It results in cardiovascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, arteriosclerosis, stroke, and kidney disease just to name a few. With respect to eye and vision health, rapid aging results in early cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma, and retinal vascular changes known as diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, one of the most important things we can do to extend our lifespan, as well as our eye health is to keep our glucose and insulin levels as low as possible.
HOW TO MEASURE THE RATE OF GLYCATION
- The hemoglobin A1c test is a well known tool for following long-term glucose control in patients with diabetes. However, the same blood test also helps identify age-accelerating glycation reactions in the body. The hemoglobin A1c blood test is thus useful in non-diabetics who want to guard against this destructive glycation process.
- Hemoglobin A1c, also called glycated hemoglobin, is a marker of long-term blood sugar levels. While it is widely used to monitor blood sugar control in diabetics, it also measures the level of age-accelerating glycation reactions in the body and has been largely overlooked for healthy individuals.
- Optimal hemoglobin A1c levels in healthy adults may be associated with protection from disease processes associated with glycation, such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration.
- While the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping hemoglobin A1c levels below 7%, those seeking aggressive disease protection, including non-diabetics should strive to maintain hemoglobin A1c levels at less than 5%.
The best recipe for a successful reduction of glycation is to have a diet rich in whole grains, fresh vegetables, and good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils and nuts. Avoid sugary drinks, cut back on red and processed meats, and eat more fish and chicken.
Other lifestyle changes can also dramatically lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Excess weight is the single most important cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven fold. Losing weight can help if your weight is above the healthy-weight range. Losing 7 to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
Simple exercise like walking can be a huge benefit. Every two hours you spend watching TV instead of pursuing something more active increases the chances of developing diabetes by 14 percent.
If you have any questions concerning diabetes and your eye health, please contact our offices in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 or in Pawnee at 918-762-2573. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!