You’re chances of developing prediabetes over the course of your lifetime is about 50-50. A large study from the Netherlands followed 10,000 adults for 15 years testing their blood sugar levels and found at age 45, about half would develop prediabetes, 30 percent full blown diabetes and nine percent would need to take insulin. Factors accelerating the rate of developing prediabetes were increased age, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.
Prediabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated 79 million Americans have prediabetes and it is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. If it is not diagnosed it most likely will go on to develop into type 2 diabetes. Currently, about half of all American adults have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes often has no symptoms but there are risk factors increasing the likelihood of developing it. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for prediabetes/diabetes in adults who are overweight or obese and have one or more risk factors:
· Being overweight or obese or having a body mass index of 25 or higher
· Age 45 and older
· Physically inactive
· Family history such as a parent or sibling
· High blood pressure
· Being African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander
· A woman who has had gestational diabetes or has polycystic ovary syndrome.
· Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
If diagnosed with prediabetes, take it seriously. It’s a wake-up call and a call to action – you’re on the path to developing type 2 diabetes but it’s not too late to reverse course. Adopting a PROACTIVE plan can not only help you delay prediabetes advancing into type 2 diabetes but can also reduce the risk of developing it to begin with. Whether you have prediabetes or not, here are steps all of us should do to reduce our risk of diabetes:
P – Prevent heart disease – The risk of heart disease goes up dramatically with diabetes so it’s important to have a heart-healthy lifestyle to begin with. Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco and know your family history of heart disease.
R – Regular sleep and reduce stress– If you’re not getting sufficient sleep each night (preferably 7 to 8 hours), you may not be using insulin effectively and it can make losing weight harder. Develop good sleep habits like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoid caffeine before bedtime, and keep computers, cell phones and the TV out of the bedroom.
Stress increases the levels of cortisol, a hormone which can lead to storage of belly fat making it harder to lose weight. Manage stress through exercise, yoga or hobbies helping reduce feelings of tension.
O – Overturn being overweight or obese – Most people diagnosed with prediabetes are either overweight or obese. Losing just 7-10% of your body weight can have a significant impact on decreasing development of type 2 diabetes.
A – Activity – Physical activity helps lower weight, blood glucose levels and decreases body fat. If haven’t exercised for some time, check with your doctor first, and slowly add more activity into your daily routine. Thirty minutes a day of walking is a good goal to aim for – also taking the stairs, walking the dog, parking further away from a store and standing more all add up to burning more calories.
C – Commit – Make a commitment to do your best each day to lead a healthy lifestyle. Having a good attitude will help with this – don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip-up. If you do, start fresh the next day committed to stopping prediabetes in its tracks.
T – Take medicine if needed – Once diagnosed with prediabetes, your doctor may want to start you on an oral medication that controls blood sugar levels. Follow your doctors’ advice and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
I – Identify support – Following all of this advice can be made easier if you have someone to be accountable to and who cheers you on. Consider joining a support group or meet with a certified diabetes educator who can give you further ideas on preventing diabetes.
V – Vitals – Know your vitals such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1C. Knowledge is power and the more informed you are about your health the more likely you’ll want to take good care of yourself.
E – Eat healthy – This can be one of the major keys to reversing prediabetes. Choose a balanced diet by:
· Avoiding sweetened beverages and limiting sweets – cakes, cookies, pie, donuts, and pastries. These foods raise blood sugar and insulin levels leading to increased fat storage making weight loss more difficult.
· Reducing calories if you need to lose weight.
· Creating at every meal a healthy eating plate– make at least half your plate filled with fruits and vegetables, with the other half made up of whole grains and lean meats.
· Having a protein source at each meal which helps with satiety and choose complex carbohydrates – vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains – in place of sugary carbohydrates.
· Limiting eating at fast food restaurants.
· Cooking from scratch more often at home putting you more in control of the ingredients used.
More and more physicians are testing adults for prediabetes and referring them to registered dietitians to help them with lifestyle modifications to slow or prevent developing type 2 diabetes. Each one of us has within our control the ability to make positive changes in our lives to promote our health. Being proactive is a tremendous tool to use to your health’s advantage.
All good decisions begin with a single step in the right direction. The more proactive steps you make a part of your lifestyle, the more likely you can at least delay if not reverse prediabetes. Think proactive, be proactive and watch your life turn towards better health and away from diabetes.