Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting millions of people. Prediabetes means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level. This is a concerning condition because It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes, but an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes exists without lifestyle changes. If you are diagnosed as prediabetic, the long-term damage of diabetes may already be starting. However, there is still time at this stage to course correct as the development from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t unavoidable.
If diagnosed as prediabetic, making immediate several lifestyle changes are the first step. The first thing to do is to change your diet and start eating healthy foods. Secondly, make a concerted effort to integrate physical activity into your daily routine. Lowering your weight and remaining at a healthy weight can help bring blood sugar levels back to normal. These two lifestyle changes can help prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes and help get blood sugar levels back to normal.
According to data from the CDC, 96 million aged 18 years or older are prediabetic. Classic signs and symptoms suggest you’ve moved from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes, including increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, and many other symptoms (see the complete list here from the Mayo Clinic). People with prediabetes don’t usually show signs or symptoms and learn through regularly scheduled visits to their primary healthcare provider. With that said, possible characters exist. Darkened skin on specific body parts, including the neck, armpits, and groin, might be early signs of prediabetes.
Today, the cause of prediabetes is still unknown. However, endocrinologists and diabetic care teams can investigate family history and genetics to help hypothesize reasons. We know that people with prediabetes don’t correctly process sugar anymore. Most of the glucose in the body comes from the food you eat (metabolism). When food is digested, sugar enters your bloodstream. Insulin produced in the pancreas allows sugar to enter the body’s cells, lowering the sugar in your blood. When blood sugar levels drop, the pancreas slows down insulin secretion into the blood, resulting in sugar buildup in the bloodstream.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight, and getting regular physical activity can considerably lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, a small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or similar action. Here are some tips offered by the CDC that I agree with:
- Working with a trained coach, dietician, or nutritionist to make realistic, lasting lifestyle changes
- Learning how to “eat to live” instead of “living to eat” by discovering how to eat healthy
- Working with a personal trainer to add more physical activity to your daily routine
- Learn to manage stress
- Seek support from others in your circle or interact with new people with similar goals and challenges
And, if you want a deeper dive into prediabetes, diabetes (Type 1 and 2), hormones, and the metabolic process, check out a book I wrote based on more than thirty years of experience, research, and practice, “Metabolism & Medicine.” This two-part book series details the workings of the metabolic system, including the endocrine system that manages all the body’s hormones, including insulin.
To learn more about the metabolism, endocrine, and diabetes correlations and to gain a deeper understanding of the human body as a machine, buy Metabolism & Medicine.