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Diagnosed With Prediabetes? What You Can Do To Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Written by GHBY Team on Mon, 26 December 2022 — Fact checked by Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe

Key Highlights

  • The risk factors for developing prediabetes are the same as the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet that helps you maintain the right weight or body mass index is one of the most important measures you can take.
  • Slow, gradual changes can help in arresting prediabetes from progressing into Type 2 diabetes.
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Before your blood glucose levels have reached levels high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes, you enter a stage called prediabetes.

Here, your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is your chance at making major lifestyle changes if you don’t want to develop Type 2 Diabetes, the most common type of diabetes in the long run.

blood-sugar-test-level

It taken an average of eight years to go from being diagnosed with prediabetes to the onset of type 2 diabetes takes an average of about eight years. Prediabetes can also lead to heart disease, stroke and nerve damage.

Are you prediabetic?

Often those with prediabetes don’t have any symptoms, and most people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), USA, there are three recommended blood testing methods to identify or diagnose prediabetes: A1C, fasting plasma glucose, and 2-hour post 75g oral glucose challenge. These are the same tests currently recommended to identify undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Any of the following results will confirm a diagnosis of prediabetes: 

  • A1C 5.7%–6.4% or
  • Fasting plasma glucose 100–125 mg/dL (impaired fasting glucose) or
  • 2-hour post 75 g oral glucose challenge 140–199 mg/dL (impaired glucose tolerance)

Although the future development of type 2 diabetes is possible when blood test results are below these ranges, the risk for progression becomes higher with these more elevated test results.

Risk factors for prediabetes

The risk factors for developing prediabetes are the same as the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Are over the age of 55
  • Have cardiovascular disease
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes
  • Are overweight with high waist measurements
  • Smoke
  • Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Have polycystic ovary disease (a common condition in women who have an over-secretion of insulin)
  • Are from high-risk ethnic groups
  • Some medications (some medications used to treat severe mental illness) can also increase your risk of developing prediabetes.

Complications arising out of prediabetes

  • Prediabetes has been linked with long-term damage, including to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys, even if you haven't progressed to type 2 diabetes.
  • Prediabetes is also linked to silent heart attacks.

The good news is that progression from prediabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable and some prediabetic people actually return to normal blood glucose tolerance by modifying the lifestyle risk factors.

How to deal with prediabetes

Prediabetes is not just a precursor state to diabetes. It is a medical condition that is important to diagnose and can put you at risk of developing several medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage.

what to avoid in diabetes

There are steps that you can take now to prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes.

Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet that helps you maintain the right weight or body mass index is one of the most important measures you can take.
  • Reducing high sugar, high fat, and processed foods and increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a great way to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keeping track of your portion size and total caloric intake is also very important. Consult a registered dietician who can help you create easy, healthy meal plans to remain an ideal weight.

Exercise

  • Exercise has several beneficial effects in preventing type 2 diabetes. It can both increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin and increase your cells’ ability to allow glucose in and to use it for energy whether insulin is present or not.
  • You should consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen to determine what is safe for you.
  • Additionally, frequent glucose monitoring may be necessary to determine how different forms of exercise affect your blood glucose levels so that you can maintain safe blood glucose levels.
  • Find a form of exercise that you can easily fit into your daily routine and that you enjoy will increase your chances of making it a lifelong habit.
  • If you have other health problems, you will want to consult your healthcare provider about an exercise plan that is safe for you.

Get enough sleep

  • Sleep deprivation is an often overlooked but significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
  • With prolonged sleep loss, less insulin is released in the body after you eat. Meanwhile, your body secretes more stress hormones like cortisol, which helps you stay awake but makes it harder for insulin to do its job effectively. This ends up in too much glucose staying in the bloodstream, which can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Skimping on sleep can also cause obesity. Those who sleep less have reduced levels of leptin (a hormone that helps decrease our appetites) and increased ghrelin (a hormone which boosts our appetite). With reduced level of satiety, which causes you to crave carbohydrates and sugary foods, you binge on unhealthy foods at night. This leads to an increased BMI as you keep packing on the pounds.

Be well hydrated

  • Often, hunger is more a sign of dehydration.
  • A study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ found that drinking 500 ml of water before a meal can lead to greater weight loss.
  • Aim for 6 to 8 glasses a day. When you’re full, it will leave you less vulnerable to junk food.

Stop smoking

  • Not smoking is the best advice for a lot of health issues, and diabetesis certainly one of them.
  • Smoking is a risk factor for diabetic neuropathy because it affects circulation and increases your risk for dangerous foot problems.
  • Get help if you have trouble quitting on your own.

De-stress

  • Many of us feed our stress with unhealthy foods.
  • According to a 2014 study in the journal ‘Appetite’, stressed people are more prone to crave sweets, which leads to increased weight. Proven methods of successful stress relief include meditation, breathing techniques, yoga, exercise and acupuncture, among many others.

Be mindful

  • Mindless eating is dangerous. Be mindful of what and when you eat. If you’re going to snack, reach for a handful of heart-healthy nuts or a few carrot sticks.
  • Even low-fat popcorn is a better option. Keep a container of fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge for easy snacking. Or grab a handful of nuts.

Shop consciously

  • Keep unhealthy foods off your shopping list. Instead, indulge in healthy snacks that you find easy to reach at home and at work.
  • Understand the target goals for blood glucose from your doctor and work with your dietician to know how to choose the right foods.
  • When buying packaged foods, be certain to look at food labels and ingredients lists to ensure that the product is not high in sugar, salt or overall calories.

Get regular check-ups

  • See your doctor on a regular basis. This will let them monitor for warning signs of having type 2 diabetes and its complications.
  • The sooner these signs are detected, the sooner you can take preventative and therapeutic measures.

Understand medication

  • Learn about your medications. There are different types of glucose-lowering medicines.
  • Be aware of drug interactions with vitamins, herbal supplements and OTC medicines.
  • Talk to your doctor and tell them of all the medicines you are taking for different things. Stick to a routine and don’t change your dosage without consulting your doctor.

Get support

  • You don’t have to go it alone. Be proactive when it comes to managing your health and seek guidance from your healthcare experts when you need it.
  • Encourage your family and friends to help you manage the condition. Familiarise them with what works for your health and what does not.

Conclusion

Change doesn’t happen overnight. However, slow, gradual changes can help in arresting prediabetes from progressing into Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy eating, preventing low blood glucose, getting regular exercise, adopting relaxation techniques for stress management, monitoring blood glucose regularly, preventing depression, thinking positive, being on the right medication, working with health care professionals etc. are some of the steps you can successfully take towards prevention.

After all, the right mind-set is pivotal in making a dramatic difference. Great emotional health and a positively aligned mind-set makes the difference in the results you can achieve.

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GHBY Team

GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 
 

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  1. NIH- Recommended Tests for Identifying Prediabetes
  2. Webmd - Web Prediabetes (Borderline Diabetes)
  3. Mayoclinic - Prediabetes
  4. Cleveland clinic – Prediabetes symptoms and causes
  5. Diabetes Journals: American Diabetes Association: Professional Publications