When Your blood sugar level is elevated, not too high to be regarded as type 2 diabetes, we can term that as pre-diabetes.
Pre-Just before it progresses to become type 2 diabetes.
You have prediabetes when your blood glucose level is between 7.9mmol/L and 11mmol/L.
The good news about prediabetes is that you can make lifestyle changes to reverse it like;
- Modification of your diet: Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for managing prediabetes. Focus on incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks and beverages, and foods high in unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates. Paying attention to portion sizes and monitoring carbohydrate intake can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Incorporation of physical exercises: Regular physical activity is crucial for improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, each week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
- Occasional monitoring of your blood glucose levels: Monitoring your blood glucose levels periodically, especially if you have risk factors for diabetes or are experiencing symptoms of prediabetes, can help track your progress and determine whether your lifestyle changes are effectively managing your condition. Your healthcare provider can recommend an appropriate monitoring schedule and provide guidance on interpreting your results.
- A whole change in your lifestyle: Managing prediabetes requires making long-term lifestyle changes that promote overall health and well-being. This includes not only modifying your diet and increasing physical activity but also prioritizing adequate sleep, managing stress effectively, avoiding tobacco use, and limiting alcohol consumption. Developing healthy habits and maintaining a supportive environment can help you successfully manage prediabetes and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other related health complications.
Usually, when prediabetes is left untreated, then your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases.
What causes pre-diabetes?
Just like type 2 diabetes, prediabetes happens when you start to develop issues with insulin function.
- Insulin resistance: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels by allowing cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream. In prediabetes, cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, meaning they don’t respond properly to insulin’s signals to take up glucose. This leads to higher levels of glucose in the bloodstream.
- Genetics: Family history and genetics can play a significant role in the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes, you may be at higher risk of developing prediabetes yourself.
- Obesity or overweight: Excess body weight, particularly abdominal obesity, is a major risk factor for prediabetes. Fat cells, especially those around the abdomen, can release substances that increase insulin resistance and inflammation, contributing to the development of prediabetes.
- Physical inactivity: Lack of regular physical activity can contribute to insulin resistance and obesity, both of which are risk factors for prediabetes. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and can help prevent or delay the onset of prediabetes.
- Unhealthy diet: A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy fats can contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and prediabetes. Consuming excess calories, especially from sugary beverages and processed foods, can lead to insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism.
- Age: The risk of prediabetes increases with age, particularly after age 45. This may be due to changes in metabolism, decreased muscle mass, and lifestyle factors accumulated over time.
- Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, have a higher risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes compared to other population groups.
- Gestational diabetes: Women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), sleep apnea, and fatty liver disease are associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of prediabetes.
- Medications: Some medications, such as corticosteroids and certain antipsychotic drugs, can increase the risk of developing prediabetes.
What are the signs and symptoms of prediabetes?
In most people, pre-diabetes may present with;
- Increased thirst: Feeling thirsty more often than usual, especially if it’s accompanied by frequent urination, can be a sign of prediabetes.
- Frequent urination: Needing to urinate more frequently than usual, especially at night (nocturia), can be a symptom of prediabetes.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or fatigued, even after getting enough rest, can be a symptom of prediabetes as the body’s cells may not be able to effectively use glucose for energy.
- Blurry vision: Blurred vision or changes in vision quality can occur as a result of fluctuating blood sugar levels in prediabetes.
- Increased hunger: Experiencing increased hunger, especially shortly after eating, can be a sign of prediabetes as the body’s cells may not be getting enough glucose for energy.
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain: Changes in weight, either loss or gain, without significant changes in diet or exercise habits, can be a symptom of prediabetes.
- Slow wound healing: Wounds or cuts that are slow to heal or don’t heal properly can be a sign of prediabetes, as high blood sugar levels can impair the body’s ability to heal itself.
- Darkened skin patches: Darkened patches of skin, especially in areas such as the neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles, can be a sign of insulin resistance, which is often associated with prediabetes.
- Tingling or numbness: Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy) can be a symptom of prediabetes, especially as high blood sugar levels can damage nerves over time.
- Recurrent infections: People with prediabetes may be more prone to infections, particularly yeast infections in women and urinary tract infections.
Yes, you can reverse pre-diabetes before it becomes type 2 diabetes
How can you prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes?
- Portion control: Using methods like the hand jive method or the plate model can help you manage portion sizes, ensuring you’re not overeating and controlling your carbohydrate intake.
- Healthy food choices: Opting for whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels and support overall health.
- Regular exercise: Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower your risk of developing prediabetes or progressing to type 2 diabetes.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote overall health. It’s especially important to drink water alongside meals to aid digestion and prevent dehydration.
- Weight management: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through a combination of diet and exercise can significantly reduce your risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Limiting or avoiding alcohol and tobacco can help lower your risk of developing prediabetes and other related health issues.
Being overweight and obese increases your risk to pre-diabetes
What are the effects of pre-diabetes?
The effects of prediabetes can be very similar to those caused by type 2 diabetes, usually referred to as diabetes complications;
- Increased risk of heart disease: Both prediabetes and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, including conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure: Diabetes, especially when poorly controlled, can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension), which further increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage.
- Kidney damage: Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy), which can progress to kidney failure if left untreated. High blood sugar levels over time can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their function.
- Erectile dysfunction: Men with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction (impotence) due to damage to blood vessels and nerves caused by high blood sugar levels.
- Stroke: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by a clot or a ruptured blood vessel.
- Delayed wound healing: High blood sugar levels can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds and fight infections. This can lead to slow wound healing, especially in the feet and lower extremities, and increase the risk of complications such as infections and ulcers.
All this often comes when prediabetes is left untreated.
What should you eat when you have prediabetes?
- Increase dietary fibre: Incorporating more fibre-rich foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and promote a feeling of fullness, reducing the need for excessive snacking.
- Choose healthy proteins: Opt for lean proteins, particularly those from plant sources like beans, lentils, tofu, and nuts. These sources of protein are lower in saturated fats and can help support overall health.
- Healthy snacks: Instead of processed snacks high in sugar and unhealthy fats, opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, nuts, or yoghurt. These snacks provide nutrients and fibre while helping to manage blood sugar levels.
- Monitor glycemic index: Being mindful of the glycemic index of foods can help you make healthier choices and manage blood sugar levels more effectively. Choose foods with a lower glycemic index to minimize spikes in blood sugar.
- Limit processed meats: Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli meats are often high in sodium and saturated fats, which can contribute to heart disease and other health issues. Limiting consumption of these foods can help improve overall health.
- Reduce added sugars: Minimize the intake of added sugars from fast foods and processed foods, as they can contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and other health problems. Opt for whole foods and prepare meals at home to have better control over sugar content.
Remember to do portion control maintain normal meal times and avoid unnecessary snacking.
Yes, sometimes non-diet factors like stress can cause insulin resistance hence leading to prediabetes
- Diet and weight loss: A healthy diet combined with weight loss can indeed help reverse prediabetes and prevent its progression to type 2 diabetes. By making nutritious food choices, controlling portion sizes, and achieving a healthy weight, individuals with prediabetes can improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Medications: In some cases, medications may be necessary to help lower blood glucose levels and manage prediabetes. These medications are typically prescribed by healthcare professionals and may include oral medications or injectable insulin. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs.
- Portion control with fruits: While fruits are nutritious and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it’s important to practice portion control, especially for fruits that are higher in natural sugars. By monitoring portion sizes and incorporating a variety of fruits into your diet, you can enjoy their health benefits without causing significant spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on overall health and can worsen prediabetes and its associated complications. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake are important steps towards improving health and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Choose foods with lower glycemic index: Foods with a lower glycemic index are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. By focusing on foods with a lower glycemic index, such as whole grains, legumes, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits, you can help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve overall health.
- Take care of your health: Prediabetes is a serious condition that requires proactive management and care. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly, and working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals with prediabetes can take control of their health and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its complications.