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Prediabetes diagnosis – What’s next?

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Your doctor tells you that you have prediabetes. Do you know what this means? Is it something you could have prevented?

Here is simple guide to understanding and managing prediabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels are elevated beyond the normal range, but not to the levels of true diabetes. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Excess glucose in the blood causes damage to your blood vessels which can lead to long-term health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and predementia or mild cognitive impairment. Prediabetes can also cause impotence in men and infertility in women.

Who is at risk?

Prediabetes is very common. It is estimated that over one third of individuals over age 40 who are either overweight or obese have prediabetes. Unfortunately, the occurrence of prediabetes has been increasing in younger adults and children.

The risk factors for prediabetes:

• Overweight or obesity

• Family history of diabetes

• Sedentary lifestyle

• High blood pressure and high cholesterol

• Gestational diabetes

• Poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

What causes prediabetes?

Prediabetes develops when your body stops making enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. It helps get glucose from your blood into your cells to give them energy. When your body cannot use the insulin properly, glucose remains in your bloodstream and the cells become resistant, this is known as insulin resistance. Several studies have shown that with increasing insulin resistance and prediabetes, the risk of long-term health complications increases steadily.

Prediabetes usually has no symptoms so it can continue undetected without proper assessment by a healthcare professional.

Do genes play a role?

Research has shown that genetic variations in several genes are associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. So, if you have prediabetes and variations in these genes, then you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s important to remember that, although genes play an important role, wise lifestyle choices and taking proper care of your body can make a big difference.

What can you do about it?

Get regular glucose testing, especially if you have any of the prediabetes risk factors listed above, weight gain in the belly or abdominal area, or abnormal cholesterol levels.

By making a few key lifestyle changes you can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Here are some helpful tips:

• Avoid refined sugars and starches like sodas, candy, baked goods, white potatoes, white rice, and many cereals.

• Limit processed foods like sausage and bacon to one-two servings per week.

• Eat healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds.

• Make quality food choices and forget about counting calories and carbohydrates.

• Reduce weight. Losing at least 10% body weight can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes

• Perform regular physical activity. Find an activity you enjoy and do it for at least 30 minutes every day.

• Manage stress. Try meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, laughing, saunas, massages and other relaxation techniques.

• Get an individualized nutrition intervention and lifestyle modifications plan that is tailored to your needs. This will enable you to obtain sustainable and healthy eating for life.

You can treat prediabetes before it becomes full-blown diabetes. You may have the predisposition towards type 2 diabetes, but you have the power to ward off the health problems associated with prediabetes by learning how to support your body so it can function properly.

A functional nutritionist can empower, advise, and teach you much more about this condition. It’s never too late to reverse the progression of prediabetes.

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