Here are the symptoms from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) symptoms page:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
I do pee a lot, but I thought it was because of my prostate was getting old. Now I wonder. The reason why I thought something might be wrong is I’m napping more, especially after meals. I was getting more and more tired. Then I thought maybe I wasn’t getting enough protein. I’ve been on this plant based diet for over a year, and it has little protein and fat. So, I started eating protein bars and even tuna, which is a big deal for me since I’ve been a vegetarian since 1969. That turned that problem around. But then I read protein helps with insulin processing. It’s amazing how many factors we have to consider maintaining our health.
I figured a little science experiment was in order, one that I could make into a blog post. I bought a glucose testing kit, the kind diabetics use to test their sugar levels. I figured I’d test before and after meals for several days and keep a record. But I kept putting off starting my experiment. Then I told an old friend who has diabetes about my plans and he went after me like a drill sergeant badgering me to get on the bounce. I did. Thanks.
One reason I didn’t think I had diabetes is I get my blood work done very regularly because my doctor hounds me about my cholesterol levels. She’s always said my glucose levels were good. Here are my fasting glucose numbers from doctor’s office for the last few years: 101, 90, 83, 77, 81, 75, 87 mg/dL. The acceptable range from the lab is 79-115 mg/dL.
My home glucose meter gave me these readers for the last 7 days taken in the morning: 92, 95, 88, 84, 95, 93, 92. That suggests my meter is in the same ballpark as my lab work. However, I’ve read that home meters are only accurate to +/- 20 points. I once had what I thought was a high reading, and I retested immediately, and it dropped 18 points. This suggests I can’t trust single readings and must look at averages over time.
The ADA recommends the first-thing-in-morning reading should be in the 80-130 mg/dL range. The American Association for Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommends < 110 mg/dL. So, by both associations, I’m okay for fasting numbers.
But what happens when I eat something? Both the ADA and AACE have recommendations for glucose numbers for 2-hours after eating: ADA recommends < 180 mg/dL for nonpregnant adults, and AACE recommends 140 mg/dL. My home testing had these numbers when I checked at the 2-hour mark after eating: 123, 143, 124, 125, 131, 106, 99, 98, 115, 141, 112. On average, I’m fine by both ADA and AACE. But I twice went over the AACE guideline for individual readings. In both cases after I ate my breakfast cereal which has blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. My breakfast cereal is a health food cereal with 8g of sugar, but the almond milk has 16g. So, if I eat a meal loaded with sugars I’m pushing the AACE limit. And those two examples might just be within the +/- 20 error. I’ll have to continue to monitor my sweeter meals to know for sure.
To test things, I ate my standard breakfast at different times, and the results were the same. However, on some days I exercised before the 2-hour mark and the scores came down. That could be the exercise, or it could be those high figures were within the error margin. I don’t know. I’ll keep testing. By the way, they emphasize handwashing before using the test strips because food on the fingers will alter the reading.
I tend to go on junk food benders. I was tempted to eat a bunch of junk food (meaning sweets for me) and see what it did to my numbers. However, I’ve been eating healthier for weeks and I don’t want to start another bender. Once I start eating sweets I can’t stop.
Overall, I think I don’t have diabetes, but that I need to watch out. By the lab work numbers, I don’t even fall into the pre-diabetes range. However, doing my own testing shows I’m okay by the ADA, but iffy by the AACE when I fill up on meals with more sugar in them. Some of my healthier meals let me get back to the morning fasting range within 2 hours, and well within the 2-hour after eating ranges.
I believe this little experiment showed me that eating right and exercising does have a physical impact on my body, at least my glucose levels. Tracking my numbers might help me lose weight. Because I’m overweight, I’ve worried about diabetes. I have friends with diabetes or pre-diabetic. It’s scary. It will be interesting to see if I do lose weight if my ability to stabilize after eating a sweet meal happens quicker. Of course, as I work hard to control my weight and cholesterol I automatically eat what diabetics should eat.
Too bad they don’t have a FitBit that constantly reads out glucose levels. Such tech might provide biofeedback to eat healthier and lose weight. This little glucose testing kit has proved to be very useful and revealing. I’m going to report my findings to my doctor and ask for an A1C test, which is supposed to be more accurate than the tests I’m doing now.