Do you know your AIC?
The Hemoglobin AIC (hbA1c) blood test measures your average blood sugar over approximately the last 3 months. Testing blood glucose with a home meter is a useful tool but it often doesn't give the full picture. Insulin may be coping with chronically high blood glucose which would show readings in range during those snapshots of a moment in time, yet missing the progression to insulin resistance and the point insulin can no longer force excess glucose into the cells.
Glucose molecules stick and bond to different proteins, including hemoglobin (red blood cells). Red blood cells (which live about 3 months) carry oxygen to every part of our body. Think of each red blood cell as a passenger train car with a set number of seats. Oxygen molecules sit in these seats and are transported to your tissue and organs.
Glycated glucose molecules are pushy, and take up these seats instead of O2. The more seats taken by glucose the less oxygen reaching every part of your body. hbAIC tells you how many seats are taken up by glucose.
When glucose sticks to other proteins throughout the body it creates something called AGE's - Advanced Glycation End Products. AGE's are responsible for oxidative damage, free radicals, and a driver of of premature aging, and degenerative diseases.
Insurance companies use the A1C because results are an indicator of life expectancy. Disease severity rises as average blood sugar rises.
Consider Type 2 Diabetes: Standard treatment of insulin injections does not heal the issue (nor does the "new" drug heavily being marketed currently). The disease progresses with health complications for the kidneys, circulation (including amputations), eyesight, and more. (Consult your physician before making changes to medications.)
The longer you've had a high AIC, and the higher it is, the longer it will take to heal the metabolic dysfunction and any correlating disease. Therefore, don't wait for a diagnosis to find out your A1C.
Getting your AIC tested is easy.
Even if you consider yourself metabolically healthy, you will have a baseline measurement moving forward.
In my work experience, most under estimate the amount of sugar they are consuming, usually not counting wheat and other grains, fruit, and hidden sugars in sauces and dressings.
The AIC helps us get real about what, how, and when we're eating. Food is a set of instructions to your body. Chemistry trumps calories.
Knowing your AIC empowers you to make changes if necessary and is a tool to monitor progress and effectiveness of these changes.
You do not need a doctor's requisition or a diagnosis to get tested. Shopper's Drug Mart offers testing for $25. Contact you local outlet to book an appointment. A simple finger prick and results only take a minute or two.
Interpreting your results: "Normal" ranges are based on population averages, not what is optimal. Diabetes Canada lists an A1C of 5.7 - 6.4% as a diagnostic criteria for prediabetes, and under 5.7 as "healthy". However the ideal range for optimal health is between 4 and 5%. (If you monitor your blood sugar, be aware the A1C is a percentage. A1C of 5.5% is not the same as your metre reading of 5.5 mmol/l. The conversion from percentage in this example is 6.6mmol/l.)