HbA1c – What is it? Why is it Important? What should it be?

I don’t want to bore non-diabetics with details. Simply put, HbA1c is a blood test that measures one’s blood glucose over three months. The average is determined by looking at the amount of sugar that binds to the the haemoglobin in red blood cells. For the science nerds out there, you can go to Wikipedia.

Now my HbA1c has been between 6% and 7% for years. I thought that was pretty damn good until I came across one of Dr Ken Berry’s videos a while back. He insisted that the highest acceptable level for anyone is 5.7%. Anything over that and you are doing major damage to yourself.

Dr. Ken Berry, MD - Diet Doctor
Dr Ken Berry

Well that tends to focus the mind a bit, and it’s one of the reasons I started this site. I believed sharing my story would help focus me enough and discipline me enough to get to 5.7%…or better. Dr Berry, unfortunately, doesn’t explain why numbers above 5.7 are bad given that most endocrinologists will say numbers in the sixes are good. We can use a little logic here and conclude he’s right. High blood sugar leads to all kinds of problems. Why wouldn’t slightly elevated blood sugar lead to problems too especially in the long term. It makes sense. Yet the way Dr Berry talks about it, you would think a reading of 6.0% would lead to an amputated limb tomorrow. So I did more digging.

I came across a short clip of Dr Richard Bernstein, the diabetes expert, who gave his views of what will happen to someone who maintains a 6.5% reading over an extended period:

  • blindness
  • amputations
  • neuropathy
  • erectile disfunction
  • dying young

So the question is why? Why do trained doctors tell diabetics that HbA1c above 5.7% is fine. Dr Bernstein provides the answer. Doctors have told him over the years, time and again, the above results are the natural consequences of diabetes, but if one patient out of my 3000 dies of hypoglycaemia, I get sued.”

So that’s why I’m driving for 5.7 or better.

Here’s the clip.

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