Have you been diagnosed with prediabetes?
We have a prediabetes epidemic in the US.
The rate of Type 2 diabetes is 12.4%.
The rate of Prediabetes 42.4%
That’s 3.5 times the rate of type 2 diabetes!!!
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are burdened with costs of almost $10,000 per year directly on diabetes. That’s not counting other medical costs they might have.
I think I can safely say that if we don’t turn the prediabetes rate around, our health care cost is going to keep going up dramatically.
I hope you are reading this article to figure out how you can help prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes. It’s much easier to take action in the prediabetes stage than to wait until blood sugars are much higher and health problems more likely. Let’s prevent the fire instead of waiting until it’s out of control!
What is prediabetes and how did I get it?
Prediabetes has often been called BORDERLINE diabetes. You may have gone to the doctor for a routine physical or for another medical concern and your doctor had you do labs which commonly includes a fasting glucose. A fasting glucose is what your blood sugar was at that time on that day.
If your fasting glucose is 70-99 then it is in the normal range. Between 100 and 125 is considered prediabetes range. 126 and higher is considered diabetes.
Or your doctor may be checking an A1c lab test. The prediabetes range for that is 5.7-6.4 and 6.5 and higher is diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes does not happen suddenly. It gradually develops over months or years. If you have regular physicals and track your fasting glucose over the years you could probably see it trend up gradually.
Why do we get prediabetes?
There could be several reasons, some we can control and some we can’t:
- We are at increased risk as we get older. Our bodies just wear out.
- If we have family members, we are more likely to get it.
- History of gestational diabetes or having a baby over 9 lbs.
- Chronic emotional stress.
- Physical stress of an illness
- Weight gain
- Lack of activity
- Poor eating habits
- Some medications such as steroids
Can I reverse prediabetes?
It is possible to reverse prediabetes, especially if the main cause is related to eating and exercise habits and you are able to change those habits. It has been well researched, and I have seen it happen many times – that just a 7% weight loss and 150 minutes per week of activity such as walking can reduce the chance of progressing to type 2 diabetes by 58%. The difficult part is making that happen. (That’s where I come in as a coach!)
Reversing blood sugars back to normal is not always possible but even if you keep your A1c from increasing that is a success.
There are medical situations that increase blood sugars and are out of a person’s control, but this article and my services are focused on those situations where food and activity changes are likely to make a difference.
Do I need to prick my finger and check my blood sugar?
Your doctor may or may not recommend monitoring your blood sugar. When I speak with clients, I make recommendations based on each person’s situation. The short simple answer is . . . If monitoring is going to help you determine how food and activity are affecting your blood sugar then yes, I would recommend monitoring. There are blood sugar monitors and continuous glucose monitor options. Cost and insurance coverage are usually big deciding factors, and each person can have a very different situation.
If you are very early in prediabetes it may make sense just to focus your energy on better eating and activity habits.
What foods should I stay away from?
Rather than specific foods I am going to outline the first 3 changes to look at in your current diet.
- Avoid sweet drinks with a lot of regular sugar such as regular soda, sweet tea, juice, and sweet coffee drinks. Artificially sweetened drinks are not necessarily good for us but in small amounts can be an acceptable substitution. Water of course, is best.
- Avoid or significantly reduce your intake of sweets such as cookies, candy bars, cake, pie, and ice cream.
- Downsize your starch portions. This includes snack foods such as chips and crackers, but also starch foods at meals such as bread products, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, and green peas.
These changes can be gradual or all at once, whatever works for you. The important part is to make the changes part of a healthy overall lifestyle you can be happy with long term. You can check out my free download for more starter tips!
Will prediabetes go away if I lose weight?
Maybe. There is no guarantee as you know but the main thing to remember is that if you NEED to lose weight, and you are ABLE to lose weight, and you do it in a HEALTHY & SUSTAINABLE WAY, then your overall health and very likely your blood sugars are going to benefit.
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes usually develop due to INSULIN RESISTANCE.
Insulin resistance means your body is making enough insulin to control your blood sugars, but that insulin is not able to work the way it should. Your body has developed resistance from extra body fat or inflammation or pain or stress or something else and often it’s a combination of more than one of these problems.
Shrinking excess body fat, especially around our belly, will almost always lower insulin resistance.
If you are wanting to lose weight/shrink belly fat, start with reducing carb intake. The 3 steps above are the fast-track tips to making that happen.
What kind of exercise is best for prediabetes?
The kind you enjoy doing. Because you need to establish activity/exercise as a regular part of your lifestyle, not an extreme program you do for 2 weeks and quit because you get bored.
Here are some tips:
- If you hate exercise find things you don’t mind doing that require you to move, not sit. That’s the minimum change – move more/sit less. Activity trackers that remind us to get up every 20 minutes can help.
- Walking is a great exercise. Don’t underestimate the power of walking. Even if it’s around your apartment on a cold winter day.
- If you like to exercise, choose at least 3 different options to keep it enjoyable.
- Always have an indoor option available for bad weather days.
- Do strength training a couple days a week. This can be light hand weights, bands, gym machines, or yoga.
- Listen to your body. Start slow and increase time as you get stronger.
- Make sure you check with your doctor if you have questions about whether an exercise is safe for you.
What damage can prediabetes do to my body?
Probably the biggest consideration to think about should be the risk of heart problems. When someone has higher than normal blood sugars it is very common to also have higher than normal blood pressure and cholesterol as well. All of these increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Here are some tips:
- Have your A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers evaluated by your doctor at least once a year.
- The same healthy eating patterns that help lower blood sugars also help your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- The same healthy exercise habits you develop to reverse diabetes will also help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.