Many people don’t realize they’re headed down the road to diabetes until it’s too late. But if you notice increased hunger, thirst, trips to the bathroom, tiredness, or weight loss, make an appointment to see your doctor. A diagnosis of prediabetes is never good, but it’s much better than it could be. Take it as a warning sign that your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be and be thankful that you caught it early enough to do something about it.
Having prediabetes doesn’t mean diabetes is inevitable. With the right lifestyle changes, you can reverse the damage, bring your blood glucose levels back into a normal range, and even prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.
Being overweight is the greatest risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes. The more fat cells you have, especially around your middle, the more resistant your body becomes to the effects of insulin. The best way to lower your blood glucose levels is to shed excess pounds. You may be 100 pounds overweight and feel like you’ll never reach a healthy weight, but know this: by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight you can drastically reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. For a 200-pound person, this means losing only 10 to 20 pounds. A 250-pound person will need to lose 12 to 25 pounds.
Through the lifestyle changes mentioned below—eating healthily and getting regular exercise—you’ll get on the road to weight loss. Your goal should be to adopt permanent lifestyle changes so the weight will come off and stay off for good. Yo-yo dieting and exercise fads may help you lose weight, but you’ll be right back where you are now with disease looming in the near future when you fall back into old habits.
A big part of controlling your blood sugar level is eating the right foods. If you’re used to eating donuts for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner, things need to change. A diet that gets your blood sugar back on track will include fewer empty carbs and lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in calories. A registered dietician can help design a meal plan to help control your blood sugar.
Inactivity is a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Exercise helps you manage a healthy weight, increases cells’ sensitivity to insulin, and uses up extra glucose for energy so there’s not as much in your blood. A leisurely walk around the block with your dog or mowing the lawn once a month isn’t going to cut it when it comes to exercise. To reverse the trend of prediabetes, you’ve got to get between 30 minutes and an hour of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
Your options for exercise are endless. Ride your bike, jog on the treadmill, lift weights, swim laps at the pool, or play tennis with a friend. Find a few exercises you enjoy and make them a part of your everyday routine. Not up for moving today? That’s why you have a trainer!
A diagnosis of prediabetes late in the game or with high risk factors may warrant a prescription of metformin, a drug used to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Metformin works to keep your blood glucose levels in a lower range by preventing the liver from making unnecessary glucose. It’s not the ideal technique to fend off diabetes, but it does the job and gives you an opportunity to make healthy lifestyle changes that will enable you to get off of medication and fend off diabetes in the future.