The numbers keep rising. Just three years ago, 79 million adults in the U.S. were estimated to have prediabetes. Today, that number has ballooned to a disturbing 84 million American adults with this condition. Even more disturbing is that out of that number, only 12% have been given their diagnosis. That means about 70 million individuals are walking around with prediabetes, a disorder putting them at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.
Prediabetes is a strong risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that a diagnosis of prediabetes does not sentence you to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes but it is a wakeup call that metabolically, things have gone awry. Your blood glucose level is higher than normal but below the level of diabetes. You have been diagnosed at an early enough stage of the disease allowing you some time to actually reduce and potentially reverse it. However, to prevent prediabetes eventually turning into type 2 diabetes having a proactive plan of making lifestyle changes will be necessary.
To prevent type 2 diabetes and avoid major health concerns such as heart disease, kidney problems, poor circulation, and eye issues, here’s a PROACTIVE plan to start the process:
P – Prevent heart disease: Heart disease risk goes up dramatically with diabetes. Know your family of heart disease and do not smoke or use chewing tobacco.
R – Regular sleep: Insufficient sleep (less than 7-8 hours each night) may lead to insulin not being used effectively and can make weight loss more difficult. Develop good sleep habits of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, avoid caffeine before bedtime, and stop screen time use at least an hour before bedtime.
O – Overturn being overweight or obese: Not everyone, but many individuals diagnosed with prediabetes are carrying extra weight. Losing 5% to 7% of current body weight can have a significant impact on reducing the development of type 2 diabetes. For someone who weighs 200 pounds, that would be a loss of 10-14 pounds.
A – Activity: Movement is essential for improving insulin resistance. This helps lower blood glucose levels, aids weight loss, and decreases body fat. If approved by your doctor, start off slowly and add in more activity into your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most if not all days of the week.
C – Commit: Preventing type 2 diabetes will take commitment. Do your best each day to lead a healthier lifestyle. A good attitude goes a long way to achieving this goal. If you do slip-up, simply start fresh the next day with a renewed commitment.
T – Take medications if needed: Your doctor may want to prescribe oral medication to help control your blood glucose levels. Follow their advice and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
I – Identify support: Supportive people are invaluable. They will understand why it’s important to achieve your health goals, are someone to be accountable to and who cheers you on. Consider joining diabetes support group or meet with a certified diabetes educator to provide further guidance on preventing diabetes.
V –Vitals: Vitals mean knowing important numbers such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and your hemoglobin A1C. Knowledge is power. Knowing these numbers can guide you on taking good care of yourself.
E – Eat healthy: This is one of the most major ways to reverse prediabetes. Choose a balanced diet by:
- Avoiding sweetened beverages
- Limiting sweets – cookies, candy, cake, pie, pastries, etc.
- Reducing saturated and trans fats
- Reducing portion sizes
- Make at least half your plate filled with vegetables and fruit, with the other half made up of whole grains and lean meat choices
- Eat the majority of your meals at home
- Choose more often foods such as beans, nuts, oatmeal, barley, berries, yogurt and green tea. Each of these foods have been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
All good decisions begin with a single step in the right direction. The more proactive steps you make, the more likely you can at least delay type 2 diabetes if not reverse prediabetes.