If changes in healthcare are on your mind, you’re not alone. The recently proposed healthcare bill will change the way the federal government funds purchases of Medicaid and individual health care plans. It is expected to greatly increase the number of people without health care insurance if the law passes in the Senate and is enacted. 1
As many pre-existing conditions may no longer be covered and programs providing prevention (such as health or nutrition counseling) may be gutted, it’s likely not a bad idea to take advantage of your worksite wellness programs (if offered) and get your biometrics screening done to avoid big insurance bills that may be on the horizon. Your current healthcare provider can also do these tests. By getting a screening done, you’ll be more aware of risk factors for disease and can take matters into your own hands to save your wallet and your life.
Just as an example, a 2013 study suggests that someone with type 2 diabetes will spend about $85,500 in their lifetime to treat the disease and its complications. 2 While diabetes is hereditary, lifestyle is definitely vital in prevention. Did you know that losing just 5-10% of your weight (10-20 lbs. if you weigh 200) can reduce your risk of diabetes? Small amounts of weight loss also have been found to reduce blood pressure, which reduces risk for heart attack and stroke.
One in three deaths is related to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, an employee with heart disease costs their employer (annually) about 60 hours of time and over $1100 or more lost in productivity compared to healthy employees. 3 You can reduce your risk for heart disease by losing weight, getting regular exercise and knowing your risk factors.
Check out the following biometric terms:
Body Mass Index
(BMI) is a measure of your weight in kilograms (kg) divided by your height in meters squared.
- 18.5-24.9 = healthy weight
- 25-29.9= overweight
- Over 30 = obese
A BMI above normal associated with higher risk for chronic disease including diabetes, cancer, arthritis and heart disease. To lower your BMI, adopt a healthy and consistent eating and exercise program so you lose weight over time.
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. You have two numbers to know:
Top number (systolic) 90-120 Over bottom number (diastolic) 60-80
- 120/80 mm/Hg = normal
- 120-139/80-89 mm/Hg = prehypertension
- 140-159/90-99 mm/Hg = hypertension
As blood pressure rises, it damages arteries and blood vessels and increases risk for heart attack and stroke
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like compound made in your liver. It is needed to make hormones and aid in fat digestion.
- < 200 mg/dL= normal
- 200-239 mg/dL= borderline high
- Over 240 mg/dL= high
An elevated cholesterol level is just one risk factor for heart disease. Having a family history and other risk factors (such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure) raises risk further.
Cholesterol has a good version (HDL) and a bad version (LDL).
High Density Lipoproteins. “Healthy” cholesterol that helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream
- Over 50 mg/dL is desirable for women
- Over 40 mg/dL is desirable for men
The ratio of cholesterol to HDL is important to note. A ratio below 4.0 is desirable for lower risk of heart disease
HDL is affected by exercise. It goes up with regular aerobic activity. Alcohol in moderation also raises HDL. Your doctor may prescribe medication if risk for heart disease is high.
Low Density Lipoproteins. “Lousy” cholesterol that deposits fat in arteries
- Less than 100 mg/dLis desirable
- 100-129 is near desirable
- 130- 159 mg/dLis borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dLis high
- 190 mg/dL and up is very high
A high LDL is more predictive of risk for heart disease than an elevated cholesterol
A diet low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and sugar helps lower LDL cholesterol. Weight loss and regular exercise also help reduce LDL.
Sugar and fat molecules that are stored as energy to be used later by the body
- Less than 150 mg/dL is normal
- Over 150 mg/dL is elevated
Non-fasting levels will be higher than fasting and will reflect what is in the blood at that time. Fast for 8-12 hours before having the test drawn
High triglycerides in the body make arteries sticky, which can raise the risk fat and plaque deposits and risk of heart disease
Previously known as “borderline” diabetes. Blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet diagnostic of diabetes
- Less than 100 mg/dL (fasting) is normal
- Less than 126 mg/dL non-fasting is normal
- Over 100-125 mg/dL fasting is pre-diabetes
- Over 125 mg/dL non-fasting is diabetes
Blood sugar will increase after meals by 50-100 points. It may be higher during hospitalization, use of steroids, under stress, infection or post op from surgery
A small change in weight (5-10%) can help to prevent diabetes. Exercising for 15 minutes after meals helps to reduce blood sugar after eating. Eating high fiber, unprocessed carbohydrates is advised.
A person with pre-diabetes is at higher risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Lifestyle changes such as 5-7% weight loss and 30 minutes of exercise 5-7 days/week may reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 58%.
A1C for diabetes
If you already have diabetes, A1C is a useful measurement. AIC is a measure of average blood sugar over a range of 3 months
- Less than 5.6 %- normal
- 5.7- 6.4%- pre- diabetes
- Over 6.5%- diabetes
Work with your physician or medical care team to determine the right A1C level plus diet and exercise plan for you.
By: Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.