WHAT IS PRE-DIABETES?
One in three adults has pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but below those meeting the criteria for diabetes.
It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to reduce blood sugar levels to the normal range or the body’s cells are resistant to that insulin. Pre-diabetes increases the risk of developing diabetes type 2.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends the following criteria for diagnosing pre- diabetes and diabetes:
Most who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, likely began with pre-diabetes. However, the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes is not a given. With early detection and interventions put into place, blood sugars can be returned to normal.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PRE-DIABETES?
Many don’t know they have the condition as there are usually few or no symptoms. Therefore, pre- diabetes is often discovered during medical visits for other health reasons.
The ADA has set new testing criteria for diabetes in asymptomatic adults in an effort to identify pre- diabetes and put interventions into place earlier.
The ADA suggests testing all adults starting at age 35 or at any age in the presence of obesity or another risk factor such as:
-elevated triglycerides and HDL cholesterol levels
-high blood pressure
-people with HIV
-high risk ethnicities (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders)
CAN I PREVENT PRE-DIABETES?
Being overweight is a dominant risk factor for developing pre-diabetes. Excess weight and fat cells, particularly stored around the abdomen, are more insulin resistant. For men, a waist size greater than 40 inches points to insulin resistance. For women, it is a waist size of 35 inches.
At a lower weight, the pancreas does not have to work as hard to pump out insulin, thereby helping to preserve the health of insulin-producing cells. Even a weight loss of 5% can make a difference. For a 200 pound man, a 5% weight loss is about 10 pounds.
Regular exercise not only promotes weight loss but helps to keep blood sugars at a healthy level. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, moving glucose from the blood into cells. It reduces abdominal fat, helps reduce cholesterol, and promotes the development of lean muscle.
Before starting, check with your healthcare provider for any restrictions you may have. The ADA recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days per week. Start slowly and set goals. Also, increase your overall activity by sidestepping the escalator and using the stairs, or parking further away from the door when shopping. Walk more when possible, and set a goal for 10,000 steps each day.
We know smoking is unhealthy for a number of reasons. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease. In addition, they have an increased risk of developing diabetes than nonsmokers do. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage cells and impair and interfere with cell function.High levels of nicotine can make cells more resistant to insulin resulting in poorly controlled blood sugar. Studies have found insulin sensitivity to improve within a few months after quitting smoking.
EAT A HEALTHY DIET
A healthy diet is one that is high in fiber, low in fat and sugar, and at a calorie level to maintain or promote weight loss. At the start, this may seem daunting, and you wonder, “where do I begin?”
Start by writing down everything you eat for three days. This lets you see how you have been spending your calories and identify where to make some changes. Take note of when you eat and why? Are you really hungry or eating out of boredom or stress?
Put yourself in control by eating more meals at home and packing a lunch. Packaged and prepared meals, as well as snacks and bakery items, are often high in fat and calories.
HIGH IN FIBER
Increase your fiber intake. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that helps to slow digestion and slow the rise in blood sugar following a meal. Evidence supports increasing your intake of two high-fiber foods per day can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Choose whole-grain bread, oats, fresh fruits, and vegetables, as well as seeds and nuts. The ADA recommends an intake of 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
LOW IN FAT
Fat is a necessary part of our diets, It provides fat-soluble vitamins and energy, Unfortunately, when we eat too much fat it gets stored, and contributes to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Cut down on fat by eating less red meat and fried foods. Add one fish meal and one meatless meal per week to your diet. Legumes such as lentils and soybeans, as well as quinoa and nuts, are excellent sources of protein as well as fiber.
AVOID ADDED SUGARS
Read food labels and avoid foods with added sugars. Look for words such as corn syrup, dextrose, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup solids, dextrose, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, and white sugar.
Meet with a registered dietitian who can help you decide what changes to make. You won’t have to give up all the foods that you love but may need to make a few adjustments.
TAKE MEDICATIONS AS PRESCRIBED
Sometimes diet and lifestyle changes are not enough to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range and your doctor may prescribe medication. Make sure all your questions get answered, and you leave with a good understanding of what to expect, such as:
-what time of day it should be taken
-if it is to be taken with a meal or on an empty stomach
-if any foods need to be avoided
-where it should be stored
-any side effects to be watchful for
Don’t make any changes without first asking your doctor. Keeping a log of your blood sugars will help your doctor see how the medication and your diabetes plan are working.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If diagnosed with pre-diabetes, taking action to make diet and lifestyle changes may prevent it from becoming type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes can be reversed, and you have the power to do it and change the course of your health.
If you are overweight or have any of the risk factors, see your doctor and get screened. Early detection is so important in reversing pre-diabetes. Making these diet and lifestyle changes will also lower your risk for heart disease and some cancers, and overall improve your health. Make one change at a time and commit to sticking with it.
If you would like help with preventing or managing diabetes, consider a One-on-one Nutrition Counseling session with one of our experienced registered dietitians or join the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) designed to help you make better food choices and decrease your risk for developing diabetes. Additionally, our Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support(DSME) group helps improve your skills for managing blood sugars to reduce your risk for developing diabetes-related complications. Schedule an Appointment Today! (240) 449-3094. Many of our services are covered by insurance.