Reverse Diabetes: How to Test for Blood Sugar Problems

Mark Hyman, M.D. by Mark Hyman, M.D. | October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment
topic: Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating

diabetestestphotoDiabetes is not reversible, and controlling your blood sugar with drugs or insulin will protect you from organ damage and death. That is what the medical profession would have you believe, but medication and insulin can actually increase your risk of getting a heart attack or dying.

The diabetes epidemic is accelerating along with the obesity epidemic, and what you are not hearing about is another way to treat it.

Type 2 diabetes, or what was once called adult onset diabetes, is increasing worldwide and now affects nearly 100 million people — and over 20 million Americans. We are seeing increasing rates of type 2 diabetes, especially in children, which has increased over 1,000 percent in the last decade and was unknown before this generation. One in three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime.

Yet this is an entirely preventable lifestyle disease. In a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that 91 percent of all type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented through improvements in lifestyle and diet.

Today, I want to outline the tests I recommend to identify problems with blood sugar. Then in my next blog, I want to tell you exactly how to prevent, treat and reverse type 2 diabetes.

Testing for insulin resistance and diabetes

The tests I recommend include the following:

1. Insulin Glucose Challenge Test: This should be done with a two-hour glucose challenge, 75 grams measuring fasting, one- and two-hour blood sugar AND insulin. Your blood sugar should be less than 80 fasting and never rise above 110 or 120 after one to two hours. Your insulin should be less than 5 fasting and should never rise above 30 after one to two hours. I recommend this test for everyone over 50 and for anyone with any risk of insulin resistance, even children.

2. Hemoglobin A1C Test: This is an important measure of glycated hemoglobin, which can be an early indicator of sugar problems. It measures sugars and proteins combining into glycated proteins called AGEs (advanced glycation end products), like the crust on bread or the crispy top on crème brule. These create inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body and promote heart disease and dementia and accelerating aging. The hemoglobin A1C should ideally be less than 5.5. Anything over 6 is considered diabetes.

3. Lipid Profiles: These are also important. An HDL or good cholesterol level under 60 and triglycerides over 100 should make you suspicious of insulin resistance. An HDL under 40 and a triglyceride level over 150 usually means diabetes.

4. NMR Lipid Profile: This test is slightly different from the one above as it identifies the size of your cholesterol particles. With insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, you develop small LDL and HDL cholesterol particles. They are much more dangerous than larger particles and lead to increased risk of atherosclerosis or heart disease.

5. High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test: This is a measure of inflammation, one of the classic conditions that is both the cause and result of insulin resistance and diabetes. It should be less than 1 and is often associated with diabetes. In fact, anyone with a high C-reactive protein has a 1,700 percent increased risk of getting diabetes.

6. Homocysteine Test: Homocysteine levels are often abnormal in people with diabetes. The test is a measure of folic acid deficiency. It should be between 6 and 8.

7. Fibrinogen Test: This measures your risk of clotting, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. It is also a sign of inflammation and is associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. It should be less than 300.

8. Check Ferritin Levels: These are often elevated in people with diabetes. It is a nonspecific marker of inflammation associated with the disease. It also can mean an overload of iron in the body. It should be less than 150.

9. Uric Acid Test: Your level should be less than 6. Higher levels indicate problems with insulin resistance. This can lead to gout, which is related to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

10. Liver Function Tests: Elevated liver function can result from insulin resistance. This is the major cause of fatty liver and elevated liver function in this country. This is entirely due to sugar and carbohydrates in our diet that cause fatty liver, liver damage and even cirrhosis.

These are tests any doctor can perform and are covered by insurance.

That’s all for today. In my next blog, I will tell you how to prevent, treat and even reverse diabetes. I have seen this hundreds of times in my patients, and there is no reason you can’t achieve the same thing if you apply these principles.

Till then, remember what Michael Pollan said: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

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