Don’t let diabetes deter your festivities

Having risen to newer heights in the last couple of years, diabetes has earned India the notorious title of ‘Diabetes Capital of the World’… a reality that cannot be sugar coated! 

While most of us gear up to revel in the upcoming season of joy and festivities, there are a few who would be gearing up to face their biggest challenge. That of enjoying the occasions minus the sweet indulgence. And why so? Because we probably belong to the 72 mn Indians* who suffer from diabetes, a lifestyle disease which is an outcome of hereditary factors, sedentary routine and excessive consumption of processed food. But does that mean you need to stay away from all the small pleasures that you can enjoy together with your family? Well, the answer to that is a NO. And the good news is, you can continue to binge on the ‘fun and food’ if only you keep your HbA1c levels under check!

Why blame it only on the sweets?

While the general belief is that eating a lot of sweets is responsible for diabetes, however, this really isn’t the case. Carbohydrates from the food that we eat, is broken down into sugar (glucose). Our pancreas secretes a hormone, insulin that allows the body cells to absorb glucose for energy. Lack of insulin production or resistance prevents it from getting absorbed by the cells, resulting in high levels in the blood, causing diabetes.  So though it may not be wrong to say that sweets do aggravate the condition, however, a balanced diet (with sweets in moderation) and a healthy lifestyle can ensure regulation of insulin levels.

HbA1c - holds the key!

The free glucose in the blood attaches to the hemoglobin in our red blood cell (RBC) to form glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). HbA1c stands for Hb= Hemoglobin, A= Adult, 1c= glycosylated. Higher the blood glucose, higher will be the HbA1c value. The lifespan of RBC’s is 90-120 days, so monitoring of HbA1c gives the average blood glucose levels over a period of 3-4 months. Infact, the American Diabetes Association has recommended it as a possible substitute to fasting blood glucose for diagnosis of diabetes and for people with diabetes; it is an important indicator for predicting the risk of diabetes-related complications. Infact, it is regarded as an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke in patients with or without diabetes.

From tasting urine to automation, diagnosis has come a long way!

In ancient times, diabetes was considered as a mysterious disease, diagnosed by checking if the urine tasted sweet. Unbelievable yet true! From then to now, where sophisticated automated systems can help you know your HbA1c levels, there has been considerable advancement in diagnosis. 

Blood glucose can be directly tested in several ways. The American Diabetes Association has recommended the following ranges:

Random blood test - Regardless of when a person last ate, blood sugar is tested at random time. A level of 200 mg/ dl or higher suggests diabetes. 

Fasting blood test – Blood is tested after an overnight fast. A level of 126 mg /dl or higher suggests diabetes. 

Postprandial test – Conducted two hours after a meal, a value of 200 mg/dl signifies diabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test – Blood glucose level is tested every 30 minutes, over a two hour period. Levels higher than 200 mg/dl indicate diabetes. Although it gives better results than the fasting blood test, it is more expensive and hence not prescribed often.   

HbA1c blood test – Generally, an HbA1c of 6.5% indicates diabetes. The good news is factors such as time of day, meal intake, exercise, stress, etc. do not interfere with the diagnosis.

Measuring HbA1c levels

Immunoassay, cation-exchange high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), boronate affinity HPLC, and enzymatic assays are the four basic methods used most commonly to measure HbA1c. The HPLC method is considered the ‘Gold Standard’ method because of its ability to differentiate between the many types of hemoglobin in the blood that can cause interferences in tests.

So the next time you visit your doctor for a blood sugar test, ensure that you undergo an HbA1c test and on an instrument which uses the HPLC technology to ensure elimination of interfering factors to give you accurate HbA1c results. 

Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd., India’s leading IVD Company, equips laboratories across the country, with the latest state-of-the-art instruments. Its HbA1c analyzer uses decades of experience in HPLC along with the patent CLE technology to eliminate the interfering glycohemoglobins and give accurate HbA1c results.

So, go ahead and get your HbA1c tested today and enjoy the festivities, stress free! 

1. American Diabetes Association