The graph at left shows average glucose numbers for more than 6,000 people one hour after drinking a 50 gram carbohydrate sugar drink. Using this information - you can see how you compare to people your own age. In other words, by giving yourself an easy to administer drug store glucose test - you can see if your pancreas works like someone who is 20, 30, 40, 50, or even 75 years old - and if the numbers don't look good, unlike what you may have heard, we now realize there is much you can do to reverse your numbers and bring them closer to someone of a much younger age.
CDC GLUCOSE STUDY
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wanted to determine normal glucose levels for people of different ages across the country. Knowing this would identify patterns and help predict what age groups are most likely to develop diabetes (since higher numbers show a greater risk).
The study was authored by Caroline C. Garst at the Division of Health Examination Statistics which is part of the CDC. Results in the graph show average glucose levels for people across the United States one hour after drinking a 50 gram glucose sugar drink. Results are from 6,672 persons who were selected as a representative sample of the U.S. population in 1960. The large sample size provides us with highly accurate numbers for what is considered normal for specific age groups.
Unfortunately, newer CDC reports do not provide this much detail as people are now grouped into large age ranges of 30+ years, thereby preventing in-depth analysis and identification of trends over the short-term. On the positive side, this being an older study, it will actually give a more representative sample of "normal" glucose numbers since people at that time were exposed to far less chemical compounds in consumer products that are today being linked to autoimmunity and disruptions in glucose control systems in the body.
While most glucose tolerance tests today are done in a doctor's office with 75 grams of carbohydrates, this test is much less stressful on the pancreas and duplicates more of a "real-life" situation as it was done with a 50 gram carbohydrate glucose drink. This is something that could be easily duplicated in the home without major stress on the body.
BUYING THE TEST FROM YOUR PHARMACY
The test is simple and requires only a minute to complete. It can even be done at home if you'd like to save a few dollars and a trip to the doctor's office. The test is called a glucose test and costs $10-$15 from the pharmacy department at Walmart, Krogers, Publix or any drug or grocery store. It is usually right on the shelf in the diabetes section of the pharmacy. Test kits range in price but most stores sell their own store brand for 75% less than name brands. I've even seen some stores give away the meters (then making it back when you buy their test strips). Some test kits don't contain the test strips so you'll most likely have to buy those separately (read the label). Once you buy the meter, you can buy a box of test strips for less than $10.
After shelling out the 10 or 20 bucks for the test kit and strips, take it home and read the instructions so you can become friends. When you wake up the next morning simply prick your finger before breakfast with a nearly painless device called a lancet, included in the kit - and put the small drop of blood from your finger onto the test strip in the meter. After 5 seconds you'll see a number and hopefully it will be around 80 as it is for most people. Apparently, people with numbers around 75 have a very healthy pancreas, but most people today test in the low 80's so that's a good target for starting. The meters do have a margin of error of about 10% so if you want to be more accurate you can test twice and average both results.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?
If your morning fasting glucose number is between 90 to 99 on several occasions, your pancreas is most likely sending up its first warning that its beta-cells are being a little overworked or some issues are starting to appear with insulin resistance. If it's between 100 and 125 on two separate occasions, you officially have what is called prediabetes. Prediabetes simply means you are getting close to having diabetes and (according to studies of deceased patients) your pancreas has most likely lost an estimated 30-40% of its insulin producing beta-cells and/or you are getting type-2 diabetes. While people with type-2 diabetes do not have specific antibodies against their pancreas, they have been found to have far higher numbers of autoimmune antibodies against other parts of their body. The bottom line for type-2 is that the insulin receptors and glucose transport systems are not working properly for a number of possible different reasons.
Interestingly, type-1 diabetes was previously found only in children - and why it was originally called juvenile diabetes. Today, the word juvenile diabetes no longer applies since type-1 is appearing more and more frequently in adults as well. On the flip-side, while type-2 diabetes previously occurred only in adults, it is now greatly increasing in children ages 10-18. Since the line between type-1 and type-2 has now blurred significantly - doctors have coined the phrase - "type 1.5" - which describes people who are experiencing the symptoms of both autoantibodies against their pancreas and also signs of insulin resistance (where the body is resisting the proper use of insulin). If a child with type-1 is given additional insulin because of a high glucose level, and the numbers improve little within 30 minutes, this suggests they have type-1.5 rather than just type-1.
CHOOSING A DRINK FOR THE TEST
Although purchasing glucose is possible for making an exact 50 gram drink (you can purchase glucose tablets at any pharmacy and simply mix 50 grams of tablets in water), you can also get relatively close to duplicating this test by using a soft drink of your choosing. You just need to measure out the correct number of ounces to equal 50 carbs. For the sake of simplicity, no measuring would be needed with a 16 ounce bottle of Sprite since it has just slightly under 50 carbs for the entire 16 ounce bottle. If Sprite is not your thing, you could use a 16 oz bottle of Coke which has 52 carbs. To get down to 50 carbs you need to remove two teaspoons from the 16 ounce bottle which would give almost exactly 50 carbs.
Blood Glucose Levels 1 Hour After Drinking a 50g Glucose Drink
Once you've decided on the perfect drink, the most accurate way to do this is in the morning within an hour or two after waking and before eating or drinking. If it is difficult to do in the morning, you can do it in the afternoon, but should wait at least 3-4 hours after eating or drinking to make sure all carbohydrates have been processed. Below are the steps for conducting the test:
STEP 1. MEASURE BLOOD SUGAR BEFORE THE TEST
Before drinking the 50 carb drink, take your blood sugar and write down the number along with the time of day onto a piece of paper. This will serve as teh baseline starting point.
STEP 2. DRINK THE 50 CARB DRINK
Drink your 50 carb drink and set a kitchen timer - alarm or stopwatch on your cell phone to exactly 60 minutes..
STEP 3. MEASURE BLOOD SUGAR 1 HOUR LATER
After 60 minutes check your blood sugar again and write the number down on your piece of paper. To make this accurate, this should be done exactly after 60 minutes, and not 50 or 70. This way you are getting an accurate comparison to the CDC study of 6,000+ people.
STEP 4. COMPARE YOUR NUMBER TO THE CHART
After writing your number on the paper, find your sex and race column at the top of the chart. Then look down that column and find the number that is closest to your number. Next, look at the age number on the far left column. This number represents the age of people who typically have that blood sugar number. In other words, your pancreas is functioning like that of someone who is exactly that age.
Next, you can press the piece of paper against your right stomach area to show your pancreas that it is working like a pancreas of someone who is XYZ years old. Just kiddin' about the last sentence, but you certainly have permission to give your pancreas an "atta-boy" if the age on the chart is lower than your actual age (meaning you have the pancreas of a younger person), or a good tongue lashing if the age on the chart is higher than your actual age (meaning you have a pancreas of an old man or woman).
As you can see, if you do have a pancreas functioning like that of someone who is considerably older, you are far more likely to develop diabetes at a younger age. But again, since much has been learned about diabetes and regeneration of the pancreas, there is now much you can do to turn back the clock, thereby giving your pancreas bragging rights of being equal to someone of a much younger age.
If you would like more assistance on the exact procedure for giving yourself the finger-prick glucose test, we are putting up a video of this on our site at GDRP.me - This will be at the top of the home page.
This CDC study was conducted with people who did not have diabetes so the numbers are that of normal healthy people. If people with diabetes were included, the glucose numbers would actually be higher.
To summarize - if you took your test in the morning before eating this is called a fasting blood glucose and tells much about the quality of your pancreas' beta-cells. If the number is between 100 and 125 on several occasions the American Diabetes Association defines this as pre-diabetes which give you a 75% chance of developing full-blown diabetes within 10 years. Of course, the closer you are to 125 means diabetes is more likely to happen sooner than later.
YES YOU CAN GROW BACK NEW BETA-CELLS
What is very exciting is that repeated studies clearly show humans do in fact have the ability to regenerate new beta-cells in the pancreas - and apparently a lot more than previously thought! Regeneration has been found to occur from at least 3 different locations inside the pancreas and possibly other areas outside the pancreas. One of these is located in an area of the pancreas known as the progenitor duct and will literally grow new beta-cells from scratch. Another fascinating discovery was that beta-cells can also appear from the simple division of beta-cells themselves (one beta-cell becomes two, etc). Next, new beta-cells have also been found to appear (almost magically) from the altruistic sacrifice of alpha-cells. Alpha-cells reside next to your beta-cells and make up about 20% of the cells in your islets. They work as a counter balance to beta-cells - instead of lowering blood sugar by producing insulin, alpha-cells release a hormone called glucagon that raises blood sugar when your glucose becomes too low. For example, if your body requires a blood sugar of 90 to function normally, but drops down to the 80's - your alpha-cells release glucagon (glucose-on) which signals the liver to release some of its stored glucose to raise your blood sugar (about 5-6% of the liver's weight is stored glucose in the form of glycogen). However, if beta-cell numbers become too low to produce enough insulin, your alpha-cells (like a caterpillar to a butterfly) can literally transform themselves into insulin making beta-cells. Now that's what I call a friend...
DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE
The large number of back-up strategies an ailing pancreas can perform to keep insulin at needed levels is certainly amazing and may be happening inside you at this moment, but undetected. You won't know unless you take the time to do the $15 finger-prick blood sugar test. With the wealth of information you'll have from this result, you can then do what is needed to not only slow the appearance of diabetes - but to also reverse the process, so the pancreas can regain its normal healthy function and produce the necessary amounts of insulin needed to escort glucose into your cells to keep them functioning at their maximum.