Pre-diabetes is a warning signal that there's trouble ahead - unless you make some significant lifestyle changes. Untreated, it can eventually lead to Type 2 Diabetes, which is closely associated with heart disease, blindness, stroke and kidney failure. Roughly 79 million Americans currently suffer from pre-diabetes, although many of them don't know it. Fortunately, there are things you can do to turn the situation around.
Diabetes is a condition where your body either doesn't produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, or where it is unable to process insulin efficiently. Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. After a fasting plasma glucose test, normal blood glucose levels of less than 100 are considered in the normal range, and diabetes is usually diagnosed with levels of 126 or higher. Everything in between is classified as pre-diabetes.
Whether you suspect you have pre-diabetes or you've already been diagnosed, it's not too late to turn things around. By implementing these lifestyle changes, you can regain your health and keep your blood glucose levels where they should be.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The foods that you choose to eat in your daily diet impact more than just your weight — they are also responsible for the amount of blood glucose that enters your system. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar or white flour enter the bloodstream quickly, causing large spikes in blood glucose levels. Your body absorbs complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and beans slowly, resulting in more stable blood glucose levels. When you barrage your system with large amounts of simple carbohydrates on a regular basis, you're raising your risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.
Stay healthy and keep your body functioning properly by developing meal plans that are filled with lean meats, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Go for complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods that keep your body balanced and feeling full so that you don't overeat. Instead of three large meals, try to eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day.
Watch Your Weight
Many people think that only obese people are at risk of pre-diabetes, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you have more fatty tissue than you should, you are more likely to develop the symptoms. This is especially true for people over the age of 45, as this age group tends to be less active and more likely to lose muscle mass and replace it with fat. Your doctor can tell you your optimal weight based on your age, gender and frame size. Aim to stay as close to your ideal weight as possible, and you will keep your risk of developing pre-diabetes at a minimum.
Watch your belly fat. Even if the rest of your body is relatively thin or you're close to your ideal weight, excess fat around the abdomen puts you at a much higher risk of developing insulin resistance which can lead to pre-diabetes. No matter what your overall body weight is, if you're a man with a waist that measures more than 40 inches around or a woman with a waist that measures more than 35 inches, you may already be insulin resistant.
Keep your risk of pre-diabetes as low as possible by adding physical activity to your daily routine. When you exercise, you give your heart a healthy workout and you burn off calories that can otherwise lead to weight gain. You don't need to do a full hour of high-impact aerobics to reap the benefits of exercise; even 30 minutes of moderate activity each day will contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Go for a brisk walk after dinner, hit the pool for a swim or take a bike ride around the block, and you'll reduce your chances of developing pre-diabetes.
For More Information
For more information on Diabetes Education or Diabetes Management, please contact Sherri Brady, RN, at Lane Regional Medical Center, (225)658-4583.