There are an estimated 54,000,000 people in the United States who are pre-diabetic. This means that their blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Your doctor may describe this as pre-diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, or “borderline diabetes.”
If you’ve had a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, you may also be at risk, since high fasting blood sugar is one of the potential symptoms.
While these may refer to slightly different levels of blood glucose, they are all a wakeup call that you need to take action to preserve your health and quality of life. With a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, long-term damage to your heart and circulatory system is probably already starting.
What Does A Pre-Diabetic Diagnosis Mean?
If your doctor has told you that you have pre-diabetes, it means that you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes within a decade. If you test pre-diabetic, you are also at higher risk of developing heart disease. The good news is that you still have control – you can choose to make lifestyle changes that are likely to prevent the onset of diabetes, and reduce the likelihood of stroke or heart attack. It’s not too late to avoid being diagnosed with diabetes.
Ask your doctor for your exact blood sugar test results. This will help you better understand the urgency of the choices you need to make. Learn more about interpreting your test results here.
You Can Immediately Drop Your Risk of Diabetes by 58%
If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you can immediately cut your risk by more than half with modest weight loss and moderately increased physical activity. A large US study in 2001 found that just walking 30 minutes per day significantly reduced risk.
I’m surprised at the immediate resistance some people have to being told they need to make a lifestyle change in their diet and physical activity. They seem to conjure mental pictures of a lifetime of doing nothing but sit-ups, while munching on celery sticks. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of tasty food, and exercise doesn’t have to to be a miserable grind.
Fear of change is normal, but once accomplished, many changes you may once have feared have probably added to your quality of life. These changes can too.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poor diet advice out there. You’ll still find many “authorities” that suggest eliminating fats and increasing starches (carbs) for example. The best weight loss plan for YOU is completely dependent on your own unique combination of genetics, your medical situation, and your lifestyle. The best exercise program for YOU depends on those same factors, as well as on what you enjoy.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes (or Pre-Diabetes)
Risk factors include one or more of these:
- age over 45
- inactive/sedentary lifestyle
- excess abdominal (belly) fat
- family history of diabetes
- high blood pressure
- history of vascular disease
- previously identified as having IFG (impaired fasting glucose) or IGT (impaired glucose tolerance)
- certain ethnicity (including Asian American, African-American, Hispanic American, and Native American)
- low HDL cholesterol level (the “good” cholesterol) of 35 mg/dl or lower
- triglyceride level of 250 mg/dl or higher
- often sleep fewer than six hours or more than nine hours per night
- history of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- previous gestational diabetes
- previously given birth to a child weighing more than 9 pounds
Consequences of Inaction
Refusing to take action to make lifestyle changes when faced with a diagnosis of pre-diabetes can lead to scary consquences. When your pre-diabetic condition advances to type 2 diabetes, you now face the risks that all diabetics strive to master with diet and medications such as insulin. Complications of type 2 diabetes can include:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- kidney disease
How Can I Stop Progression From Pre-Diabetes to Diabetes?
- eat healthy foods, including more fiber and vegetables
- get more physical activity, even gentle exercise
- lose excess pounds – at a minimum, 5-10% of your body weight
- reduce processed carb consumption
The same lifestyle changes that treat or even reverse prediabetes help prevent the condition, too. If you’re in Hawaii, sign up for a free consultation to learn how dietMD Hawaii can assist you to reduce your risk of developing diabetes within 30 days. A personalized program of medical weight loss works for my patients, and can help you with diabetes prevention too.