Do you need to get a blood test before knowing your health status? Not always. Recent advances in functional tests suggest that one can spot a heightened diabetic, prediabetic, and insulin resistance risk without drawing a single drop of blood. Functional test tends to excel in spotting early diseases risks, because functional decline frequently precedes changes evidenced by lab tests. Such is the case with blood sugar.
Before jumping into the details, lets first clarify the biggest misconception about diabetes type 2. Although T2 diabetes is diagnosed by high blood sugar, it is not how it starts.
When type 2 diabetes is in the making, blood sugar level stays low or normal while insulin shoots up after meals. That presents a diagnostic problem, because to detect an unhealthy blood glucose pattern, a vast majority of medical personnel limits their screening to fasting blood sugar and HbA1C. Seldom ever a medical doctor bothers to check what happens to insulin.
Blood sugar level is a useless test for early risk detection
Lack of thorough checks isn’t good for patients as many are left to believe that “good” blood sugar level equals perfectly working endocrine system and low risk for diabetes. That’s not the case. Unless insulin gets tested, one cannot tell whether the pancreas is secretly doing crazy stunts at every meal. And if it does, risk of diabetes is higher even though blood sugar looks perfectly normal.
This is where functional tests come in. The best part is that some of them you can do at home. For example, one study suggested that a simple grip strength may beat standard fasting blood glucose test at detecting early risk for diabetes.
- Fluctuating blood pressure and grip strength
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- Check for inflammation
Who has hidden risk for diabetes?
A new study [i] published in Pediatr Diabetes showed that grip strength is significantly related to hidden risk for type 2 diabetes. The study found that there is a significant linear correlation between hand power and insulin sensitivity, meaning that those with weaker grip show stronger insulin resistance. Specifically grip strength is inversely related to fasting insulin and HOMA-IR, a novelty test for insulin resistance.
Another study, published in QJM, that tested 3,000 men and women aged 59-73 came to the similar conclusion: lower grip strength was significantly associated with increased odds of having the metabolic syndrome.[ii] The study also found that weaker grip correlates well with impaired 2-hour glucose test as well as enlarged waist circumference.
A 2018 Korean study published in Medicine also found a significant correlation between grip strength, diabetes type 2 and insulin resistance. [iii] Other studies suggest that skeletal muscle weakness may precede and predict diminishing insulin sensitivity.[iv]
Does this mean that weak grip strength automatically leads to diabetes or prediabetes? No, it doesn’t. Grips strength only suggests an increased risk for these.
What does it have to do with you, whether healthy, with metabolic syndrome, prediabetic, or diabetic? A lot!
Test your grip strength at home
First, test yourself on a simple dynamometer and compare it to the norms. This will give you an idea whether your fitness level is adequately supporting your health. If your grip strength is excellent, congratulation! Your fitness efforts pay off. If your grip strength is low, see it as an opportunity. Your newly-inspired emphasis on physical fitness can shortly translate into multiple improvements in health parameters.
Be aware that you don’t need to lift heavy and look like Hulk to bring endocrine system into balance, because muscle size is not the same as muscle strength. Being muscular does not equal to being healthy, but being strong translates to better function.
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- Get grip testing device
Here is an idea: judge health by body function, not muscle size or isolated blood norms. Check your grip. Know your body, because the more functional you are, the lower your risk for diabetes, and the fewer doctors you will need to be friends with. If you wish to improve your eating habits, slim down, tame cholesterol, while enjoying yourself, try our incredibly yummy collection of 69 Recipes/Pleasures
In 2015 Aimjournal noted that on the average there is 15 lb difference in grip strength between non-diabetics and those who had diabetes for approximately 13 years.[v]