You might have prediabetes if you were told by your doctor that you have any of the following:
- Sugar in your blood
- Elevated blood sugar
- An elevated fasting blood sugar
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- An elevated random blood sugar level
But what does that mean? Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Elevated blood sugars are bad because they can damage the inside of your blood vessels over time which can lead to many complications. Approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. It’s a problem because it puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Unfortunately, 90% of people with prediabetes don’t know that they have it, so if you have recently been told that you do, think of this as an opportunity to take back control of your health and a chance to prevent it from becoming diabetes.
There are several ways to determine if you have prediabetes including the following abnormal test results:
- An A1C from 5.7–6.4 or
- A Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) between 100–125 mg/dl or
- A 2 hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test between 140–199 mg/dl or
- A Random Glucose test that is greater than 200 mg/dl
The good news is that prediabetes does not progress to diabetes in everyone, though it will progress in about 70% of people. If you don’t do anything the chance of it becoming diabetes is higher. However, even making small changes to your food, exercise, and lifestyle can help in reducing your likelihood of developing diabetes. The fact that you have found the GlucoseZone and are reading this blog post means you are already taking positive steps toward better health.
When it comes to exercise, any kind of physical activity is going to help improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is a good thing. The more insulin sensitive you are, the more your body is able to utilize the extra sugar in your blood and the less insulin your body will need to produce. If you do not currently exercise regularly, start small and see if you can begin adding some activity into your day. Go for a walk after work, park your car farther away when running errands, take the stairs instead of the elevator—get creative. Try to build up to exercising more regularly whether that be taking a zumba class, jogging, lifting weights, playing basketball—you name it. You can even join us in the GlucoseZone if you’re unsure where to start and we will guide you through a workout. We promise once you start moving you will start feeling better and will look forward to getting your workout in.
There are also some dietary changes you can make that will prevent your prediabetes from progressing even further. Decreasing your carbohydrate intake will have a positive effect on your blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates include foods like bread, crackers, rice, pasta, chips, cookies, candy, cake, and other desserts. If these are foods you regularly include in your diet, start by making small swaps. Maybe you can swap out the side of chips with your lunch for something else that is crunchy and higher in nutrients like baby carrots. If you typically eat dessert every night after dinner, maybe try having dessert every other night, or swapping dessert with another food like a handful of nuts or yogurt. The goal is not to completely start depriving yourself but to make small changes that eventually add up to have a noticeable impact on your blood sugar. Stay away from the processed foods that usually leave you feeling tired and cranky and focus on adding whole foods into your diet. Changing your eating habits along with adding in exercise will also help you to lose weight, which will have a positive impact on your body’s ability to use insulin more efficiently.
If you are willing to start making changes to your diet and exercise it is possible to see huge changes in your health. Not only will you see improvements in your blood sugar, but you will also feel better physically and mentally and that will carry over into all aspects of your life. And don’t forget to join us in the GlucoseZone and share with us everything you are doing to take back control of your prediabetes!
By: Lauren Szalkiewicz and LaurieAnn Scher, MS, RD, CDE