Anti-Aging Health Heart Health

The Truth About A Normal Blood Sugar Level

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: September 19, 2018
normal blood sugar level

What is a normal blood sugar level?

Achieving a healthy glucose level is easy. I’ll explain how. However, before you think this article “isn’t for you”, let me ask what do you think a fasting, normal blood sugar level is? The lab slip and your doctor confirm up to 99 mg/dL is “normal.” Well, is it? Absolutely not. Many recent studies show people who have fasting blood sugar levels of 100 mg/dL are at much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. I mean, multiples greater. There are also studies looking at cellular glycation and even risk for developing diabetes.

Cellular glycation (stiffening, aging of all cells) occurs at levels of FBS as low as 85 mg/d. Extra-cellular glycation occurs with the production of what are called advanced glycation end products (more on this below). When you are “glycating” your cells, you are “insulin resistant”; This grey area is called a normal blood sugar level between 85 and 99 mg/dL. I would argue, with much evidence, that a healthy glucose level taken fasting is a maximum of 85 mg/dL and you can lower yours from 100 to 80 if you continue reading.

Does this mean you’ll develop diabetes?

Most Americans are concerned about diabetes and rightfully so. It’s an epidemic that has been fueled by the same erroneous “dietary thinking” that has fueled the obesity epidemic. We have followed the ADA dietary guidelines to the detriment of our health. It’s not fat making us fat and diabetic. It’s carbs. Eating a low-carb diet has gone by the wayside and I daresay that the fastest growing recommendation to rein in obesity and metabolic syndrome is a nutritional ketosis diet for weight management and health. This is a diet high in healthy fats, low in fibrous carbs only and moderate in protein. If you have one of many health issues, a healthy ketotic diet is also recommended for you. This will always bring down blood sugar levels.

To your question about insulin resistance and diabetes, know you can reverse the “carnage” and never develop diabetes. However, enough people who are glucose intolerant (the same thing) develop issues related to cellular glycation. Health issues include coronary placquing and a higher risk of cancer without ever being diagnosed with diabetes. The best blood for test your “real” blood sugar is a HgbA1C and your level should be less than 5.3.

How do you know if you have a healthy glucose level?

normal blood sugar level

How do you know if you have a problem or not? It’s simple. You see what your fasting blood sugar is. You can get a finger-prick test at a pharmacy or a blood test at a clinical laboratory. Here are the numbers you need to know.

Ideal is 75 mg/dL. Diabetes is 99mg/dL per A4M guidelines which are more strict than ADA guidelines. Glucose intolerant is currently 85 to 99 mg/dL. Easy, right?

As of 2017, though, it’s less easy. Glucose intolerant (insulin resistant) could be 80 mg/dL! In the future, this may even change to 75 mg/dL. That is where the research seems to be heading. The concept of glycation of cells is rarely, if ever, talked about.

It is associated with immune system depression, increased risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease and more. The “more” part is yukky—all cells just get stiff, less pliable and less functional in each and every organ. This includes your skin. You might want to make sure your blood sugar isn’t counteracting all the potions you use on your skin. Another issue is the production of what are called advanced glycation end products made when your cells are overloaded with glucose metabolizing capacity. We ingest AGE’s from “bad” foods or poorly prepared foods.

External AGE’s:

The process of browning that takes place when foods are cooked at high temperatures comes from a sugar-related molecular change called glycation. This damaging process takes place when a reducing sugar and an amino acid react in the presence of fat and heat.

During this process the structure of normal proteins becomes abnormal. The result is advanced glycation end products. This is why, on a perfect anti-aging diet plan, you cook using low heat and fats with appropriate flash points such as coconut oil or ghee—not olive oil. Now, let’s take this analogy to your body.

Ultimately, ingesting advanced glycation end products deactivates enzymes, disrupts cell signals and damages the body’s DNA. This results in all sorts of problems we have talked about before including inflammation, oxidative stress, nerve cell and brain cell damage, a depletion of nitric oxide and even an elevation of cholesterol. Studies clearly demonstrate links between major health risks and levels of AGE’s in the blood of non-diabetics.

Remember that AGE’s are also made intracellularly in those with elevated blood sugar levels. Normal blood sugar levels stop the production of AGE’s. Scientists have speculated that AGE-related changes contribute to a limitation of the human life span. In fact, they suggest blocking the pathways of glycation could do more than “merely” prevent diseases. It could extend life expectancy.

Healthy blood sugar levels boost your immune system

food for a healthy glucose levelAn anti-aging, anti-inflammatory diet is necessary for disease prevention and optimal well-being, energy, sleep, looks, mood, brain health and more. There is more to a “proper diet” than just eating what you think are “balanced meals”.

A great diet is one of the major keys to a great immune system. Here is my anti-inflammatory diet. This is your “template diet for life” and then you can do some ketosis and intermittent fasting if you’d like as well.

Cancer is an immune mediated and mitochondrial dysfunction disease which is largely preventable.

Heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other diseases fall under the category of being largely preventable and under the “watchful eye” of your immune system. Brain health (meaning cognition and mood) is dependent on having a well-functioning immune system.

What you weigh and what you look like is a reflection of your immune system. If you get your immune system functioning well you are on the way to good health for life. Fixing glucose intolerance and glycation is crucial to having a well functioning immune system which, as you can see, is essential for optimal health.

Achieving a healthy blood sugar:

The first step is always dietary change. Eliminate sugars, processed foods and “white foods” like pasta and rice. Lose weight if you need to and exercise regularly. Studies show that a cumulative 7 hours of “cardio” in a week lowers blood sugar 5 points. If you achieve a perfect weight, are on a good fitness regimen and still have a high fasting blood sugar, you might want to try a ketotic diet. If you have trouble losing weight, just search this website for many weight loss solutions. Further, if you can’t get motivated to exercise, try a simple high intensity interval training regimen.

What about supplements?

Yes, there are supplements which will block glucose-raising pathways such as the SIRT1 pathway. Here is my recipe for achieving a normal blood sugar level during your weight loss efforts or after you have achieved a normal weight. These recommendations DO NOT apply to Type 1 diabetics, where an absolute lack of (rather than resistance to) insulin is the problem.

  1. Start with chromium nicotinate (do not use chromium picolinate—is likely carcinogenic). The dose for chromium nicotinate is 1 cap 2x daily; More can give you mineral deficiencies. It’s also an appetite suppressant so that’s pretty cool if you need to lose weight, right?
  2. Add alpha-lipoic acid. Take 1 cap AM and 2 caps PM. Note: More might interfere with thyroid function. If you are on thyroid medication then you don’t have a tight dosage limitation. One of the great side effects of oral alpha-lipoic acid is it helps prevent collagen cross-linking in your skin which is a part of our inside-to-outside anti-aging skin care regimen.
  3. Add SIRT1 blocking berberine and see blood sugar and small LDL particle numbers go down. This will also bring down leptin if excess appetite and fat storage are a persistent problem. The dose is 2 caps, 2x daily.
  4. Add “glucomod” which contains cinnamon and other glucose-lowering herbals.
  5. 80% of the population is magnesium-deficient. Being low on magnesium will elevate blood sugar levels, so I always add a great magnesium supplement to almost everyone’s regimen.

Hanssen NM, Beulens JW, van Dieren S, et al. Plasma advanced glycation end products are associated with incident cardiovascular events in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a case-cohort study with a median follow-up of 10 years (EPIC-NL). Diabetes. 2015 Jan;64(1):257-65.

Thomas MC, Baynes JW, Thorpe SR, Cooper ME. The role of AGEs and AGE inhibitors in diabetic cardiovascular disease. Curr Drug Targets. 2005 Jun;6(4):453-74.

Hartog JW, Voors AA, Schalkwijk CG, et al. Clinical and prognostic value of advanced glycation end-products in chronic heart failure. Eur Heart J. 2007 Dec;28(23):2879-85.

Yamagishi S, Adachi H, Takeuchi M, et al. Serum level of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) is an independent determinant of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in nondiabetic general population. Horm Metab Res. 2007 Nov;39(11):845-8.

Vlassara H, Palace MR. Glycoxidation: the menace of diabetes and aging. Mt Sinai J Med. 2003 Sep;70(4):232-41.

Simm A, Wagner J, Gursinsky T, Nass N, Friedrich I, Schinzel R, Czeslik E, Silber RE, Scheubel RJ. Advanced glycation endproducts: a biomarker for age as an outcome predictor after cardiac surgery? Exp Gerontol. 2007 Jul;42(7):668-75.

Sugimoto K, Yasujima M, Yagihashi S. Role of advanced glycation end products in diabetic neuropathy. Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(10):953-61.

Uribarri J, Cai W, Sandu O, Peppa M, Goldberg T, Vlassara H. Diet-derived advanced glycation end products are major contributors to the body’s AGE pool and induce inflammation in healthy subjects. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Jun;1043:461-6.

Haus J, Carrithers J, Trappe S, Trappe T. (2007). Collagen, cross-linking, and advanced glycation end products in aging human skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol. 2007;103(6):2068-76.


  1. Oh wow, MY doctor told me that my fasting blood sugar of 98 was perfectly normal-are you saying he is incorrect? He even showed me that normal was up to 99-right there on the labslip. How can everyone have this wrong but you? (Sorry!)

    • It’s NOT “just me”- it’s all A4M docs, all integrative and Functional Medicine doctors-famous ones you might recognize who have published best selling books and are leaders
      in my field are my esteemed colleagues: Drs Mercola, Perlmutter and Hyman to name just 3. Both Quest and Labcorp have not adjusted their range accurately. But glucose isn’t the only lab value which is “ranged” incorrectly and big companies have to answer to many. At any rate, your level of 98 is too high and can easily be brought down by following the recipe in the article we’re ‘on’ here. Best, Dr.Kim-no offense taken.

  2. Great article. Can I take the alpha lipoic acid if I have Hashimoto’s?

    • Hi Patti,
      Yes, there is no reason why not. Dr.Kim

  3. Great post. Wondering if being only 20 pounds overweight is making my blood sugar higher than it should be. What’s the best diet?

    • Vernell, everyone is different. Cravings? Sleep issues? Used to eating healthfully or not? In general I’m recommending the ketosis diet I discussed in the article. Feel free to get a consult with me. Best, Dr.Kim

  4. Diabetes runs on my father’s side of the family. I am trying to watch my sugars but find it very hard when I have small children who have a sweet tooth. Do you have a recommendation for staying on top of my health so that I will not have to worry about diabetes.

    • If you have a family history Sean, you need to keep a normal weight and eat healthfully-in fact read today’s just published blog about eating guidelines. When you have a fasting blood sugar done let me know what it is and if it’s creeping up too high (see article on how high should blood sugar be) I can make recs for supplements to suppress expression of diabetic genes

  5. I love reading your blogs.

    • Thank you Loretta. Glad you do. Let me know if you need my help.

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