15 Nov Prediabetes: What You Need to Know
Prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes, is a condition that develops before a person gets type 2 diabetes.
It’s also known as impaired fasting glucose or glucose intolerance. It basically means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they’re not quite high enough to be considered a sign of diabetes.
During the prediabetes phase, your pancreas still produces enough insulin in response to ingested carbohydrates. The insulin is less effective at removing the sugar from the bloodstream, though, so your blood sugar remains high. This condition is called insulin resistance.
Having prediabetes doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop diabetes. It’s a warning of what could lie ahead, however. People with prediabetes have a 5 to 15 times higher risk for type 2 diabetes than someone with normal blood sugar levels.
Early warning signs
Someone with insulin resistance in its early stages can develop type 2 diabetes if it continues long enough. Only 10 percent of people with prediabetes even know they have it because many don’t display any symptoms.
Prediabetes risk factors
Any of these risk factors can increase your chances of developing prediabetes:
- being overweight or obese
- being inactive
- having high blood pressure
- having high cholesterol
- having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
- giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
Determining if you have prediabetes
Prediabetes is a silent condition, so getting a regular wellness checkup is important for early detection. If you think you might have prediabetes, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
If your doctor is concerned you may have prediabetes, they’ll most likely perform a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test or oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
HbA1c is an indicator of your blood sugar patterns over the last two to three months, so it’s often a better overall picture than a single fasting blood sugar check. An HbA1c level between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates prediabetes.
Potential complications of prediabetes
High blood glucose levels, especially if they’re left untreated, can affect other systems in your body. This can leave you vulnerable to a variety of health risks and chronic health conditions. For example, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to:
- vision loss
- nerve damage
- kidney damage
- cardiovascular disease
The high insulin levels that come with insulin resistance can cause additional problems.
The power of lifestyle change
A large, multicenter research study called the Diabetes Prevention Program looked into how lifestyle changes could help prevent diabetes. What they found should give people at risk of diabetes a lot of hope.
The power of healthy food and exercise habits can’t be overstated. Take charge of your health by focusing on these 8 simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
1 Eat a “clean” diet
Eating a “clean” diet is actually pretty simple and is best summed up by incorporating low fat and low calorie foods into your diet, such as:
- fruits with complex carbs
- lean meats
- whole grains
- healthy fats, like avocado and fish
For more info, check out our previous article about the Diabetes Plate Method
2 Exercise regularly
Ideally, you’ll want to have 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week. Exercises can include:
- playing sports
3 Lose excess weight
Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of body fat can improve your blood sugar level and help reverse prediabetes. For some people, this is about 10 to 20 pounds.
Insulin resistance increases when you have a larger waist size, too. This is 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men.
4 Stop smoking
Many people know that smoking increases the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. But smoking is also a risk factor for insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes.
You can get help to quit smoking. Use over-the-counter products such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. Or, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs or prescription medications to help curb nicotine cravings.
5 Eat fewer carbs
Avoid or limit simple carbohydrates, which absorb quickly and cause an immediate spike in blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates include:
- certain fruits
Refined carbohydrates are also fast-acting and should be limited or avoided. These include:
- white rice
- white bread
- pizza dough
- breakfast cereals
6 Treat sleep apnea
Keep in mind, too, that sleep apnea has been associated with insulin resistance.
With this condition, breathing stops repeatedly throughout the night due to relaxation of the throat muscles.
Signs of sleep apnea include:
- loud snoring
- gasping for air during sleep
- choking during sleep
- waking up with a headache
- daytime sleepiness
Treatment usually involves use of an oral appliance while asleep to keep the throat open.
7 Drink more water
Drinking water is another excellent way to help reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Water helps control blood glucose levels, and it’s also a healthy substitute for sodas and fruit juices. Those beverages are typically high in sugar.
8 Work with a dietitian nutritionist
Knowing what to eat with prediabetes can be tricky. Even if your doctor makes dietary suggestions, it’s helpful to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
Lucky for you, as a PHMP Member, you have access to PHMP Diet and Nutritionist Coaches! Just give ’em a call at 1-855-498-4643 and get started on your personalized nutrition plan.
Summing it up: start today
Start any diet and lifestyle changes today. It’ll give you the best chance of preventing diabetes in the first place while also avoiding any potential complications from uncontrolled diabetes.
While finding out this early diagnosis can be upsetting, it doesn’t have to mean you’ll develop diabetes—it can be reversed. You have the power to stop the progression to diabetes.
This article was brought to you by the Proactive Health Management Plan in partnership with Healthline.