Prediabetes can be considered as a warning sign that you need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle. If you’re experiencing prediabetes symptoms, there are some actions you can take that may stop the condition developing further.
What Is Prediabetes and What Causes It?
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A diagnosis of prediabetes is given if your blood sugar levels are deemed as high, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes occurs when your body begins to struggle to use insulin correctly, or at all. Insulin is a hormone that’s needed to move glucose (blood sugar) around your system.
Glucose is the substance your body uses as energy. If you have prediabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin to fuel it, or it isn’t able to use the insulin it does produce.
This malfunction leads to a buildup of glucose in your blood and the possibility of developing diabetes.
What Are the Causes of Prediabetes
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As yet, researchers have not determined a cause of prediabetes and diabetes, however they have discovered some factors that make you more at risk of developing these conditions.
- Being overweight – if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher, you are at high risk of developing prediabetes. The extra weight, particularly if it is carried in your abdomen, causes your body to become insulin resistant.
- An inactive lifestyle – moving about and exercising regularly will reduce your risk of developing prediabetes.
- Family history – If someone in your family has diabetes, you are more likely to develop it as well.
- Age – the older you are, the more likely it is that you will develop prediabetes. This is possibly because we tend to reduce our physical activity as we get older.
- Race and ethnicity – certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop prediabetes, although it is not known why. These include Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans.
- Gestational diabetes – if you received a diagnosis of gestational diabetes during pregnancy, it increases your risk of developing prediabetes in the future.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a diagnosis of PCOS also increases your risk of developing prediabetes. The cysts that form in your ovaries may be caused by your body being insulin resistant.
- Other health problems – high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol levels can also increase your risk of prediabetes and other conditions.
What Are the Symptoms of Prediabetes?
Below are also the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, but you need to be aware that you may not experience any symptoms of prediabetes.
If you think you are at risk of developing prediabetes, you should discuss this with your general practitioner.
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How is Prediabetes Diagnosed?
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There are two tests your doctor can perform to determine a diagnosis of prediabetes, and they may recommend doing either or both.
The Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG)
For this test, you need to fast for at least eight hours beforehand. Your doctor will check your blood sugar levels by drawing a small amount of blood from you.
If the FPG test shows that your blood sugar levels are between 100mg and 125mg per deciliter, you will be diagnosed with prediabetes. If your blood sugar levels are 126mg per deciliter or above, further tests may be done to diagnose type 2 diabetes.
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
This is also a fasting test, so you won’t be able to eat anything for at least 8 hours beforehand.
When you first arrive for your appointment, your doctor will test your blood sugar levels to determine your fasting blood glucose level.
After that, you’ll be asked to drink 75mg of a sugary drink, and your blood glucose level will be tested again in two hours.
If your blood sugar levels are between 140mg and 199mg per deciliter after the second test, you will be diagnosed with prediabetes.
If your blood sugar level is 200mg per deciliter or over, further tests may be conducted to diagnose diabetes.
What to Do If You Are Diagnosed with Prediabetes
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Prediabetes does not have to develop into type 2 Diabetes if you make some changes to your diet and lifestyle. The accumulative effect of these changes can stop the onset of diabetes and may give you other health benefits as well.
Avoid Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates
Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates are broken down into tiny sugar molecules which are absorbed into your bloodstream. This causes a rise in your blood sugar levels which, in turn, cause your pancreas to create more insulin.
If you have prediabetes, your body’s cells are not able to process the insulin, so your blood sugar levels will remain high. Your pancreas continues to produce more insulin in an attempt to lower your blood sugar levels.
Engage in Regular Physical Activity
When you exercise, your body needs to use less insulin to keep your blood sugar levels at a safe and healthy level. Therefore, less insulin is created.
Many people have sedentary jobs that require them to spend most of their day sitting at a desk. If you are in this position, it's important that you get up at regular intervals and move about.
Increase the Amount of Water You Drink
Drinking water is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. Not only does it help you to flush out toxins, but it also lessens your temptation to indulge in other sugary drinks.
Drinking water is far more beneficial to the body than drinking many fruit juices.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
The majority, but not all, of the people who have prediabetes are overweight. Your risk of developing prediabetes increases if the extra weight you are carrying is in or around your abdomen.
If you need to lose weight, it is important that you do this safely and don’t resort to any fad diets. Maintaining your weight loss is also important, so making permanent and sustainable changes to your diet is a much better option.
Eat a High-Fiber, Very Low-Carb Diet
Fiber can be divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps to slow down the rate that food is absorbed in your body. This means that your blood sugar levels will rise a lot slower than they would with insoluble fiber.
A very low-carb, or ketogenic, diet will lower the blood sugar and insulin levels in your body. It will also help the insulin you do have work more effectively.
Keep Your Portion Sizes Small
Eating small meals several times a day can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight to avoid diabetes. Eating large meals can cause higher blood sugar levels and higher insulin levels in your body.
Give Up Smoking
Most of us know that smoking is not good for us and can cause all kinds of problems including emphysema, cancer and heart disease.
However, smoking and second-hand smoking have also been shown to increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Although many people experience weight gain when they give up smoking, the long-term benefits of giving up far outweigh the problems of that initial weight gain.
Increase Your Vitamin D and Natural Herbs Intake
Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin D intake greatly reduces your risk of developing diabetes. It helps your blood sugar levels to normalize and increases the effectiveness of the insulin in your body.
Curcumin and berberine are both known to help reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity function.
Drink More Coffee and Tea
Although coffee and tea should not replace water, the caffeine in both substances may help to reduce blood sugar levels. They contain antioxidants called polyphenols that are known to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which aids in weight loss and reduces the amount of blood sugar that is released into the body from the liver.
What to Do If You Have Any Prediabetes Symptoms
As previously mentioned, people with prediabetes don’t always experience any symptoms. If you do have any concerns that you might have prediabetes, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.