You Can Turn Prediabetes into Good News

You Can Turn Prediabetes into Good News large

So, your doctor told you that you have prediabetes. That can’t be good news. Right?

Actually, you can turn a prediabetes diagnosis into a positive. That is, if you follow the lifestyle recommendations your doctor offers. With lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reverse prediabetes and prevent it from leading to full-blown diabetes and the serious health risks that go with it. These include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye diseases, skin infections and nerve damage.

Prediabetes vs. Diabetes

You Can Turn Prediabetes into Good News smallTo understand this, it’s helpful to know the difference between prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes, often referred to as adult onset diabetes).

Trish Zeidan, MD, of Bull Family Diabetes Center, explains, “Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to use sugar that’s consumed through food, because…(it) doesn’t produce enough insulin.” Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, turns the sugar into energy your body requires to function.

Prediabetes, as its name implies, precedes development of Type 2 diabetes. In prediabetes, insulin is still available to convert sugar to energy, but not as effectively as normal, Dr. Zeidan says. So, blood sugar levels of people with prediabetes rise, but not as high as the blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

The body responds to the diminishing effectiveness of insulin by producing more insulin in an attempt to bring blood sugar to a normal level. But, Dr. Zeidan adds, “Over time, as we use all of our insulin…diabetes develops.”

Dr. Zeidan talks about diabetes and prediabetes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is the difference between pre-diabetes and diabetes? Video Transcript

Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to use sugar that is consumed through food appropriately because of insulin deficiency, so our body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Before diabetes develops, there is a condition that we call pre-diabetes, or at high risk for diabetes or early diabetes, borderline diabetes – are some of the terms that have been used in the past. This condition is where there is still insulin available in the body to store sugar that we eat, but it’s not effective as a normal individual. So, there’s the response of the body is to actually produce more insulin to get the same goal: blood sugar, to be normal. And then over time, as we utilize all of our insulin and that insulin supply is depleted and goes down, then diabetes develops. If someone is diagnosed with pre-diabetes or is told by their doctor that they have a risk of diabetes, the lifestyle changes that could prevent full blown diabetes would be changing lifestyle habits, like sedentary lifestyles and becoming more active, eating less, losing weight, being more attentive to portion control. Many people in the early phases of pre-diabetes or even diabetes can reverse that inability to use insulin effectively, and control their blood sugars.

 

Check out this prediabetes quiz to test your knowledge of prediabetes.

The Link to Metabolic Syndrome

Elevated blood sugar is one of five risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, a condition that raises risk for heart disease and stroke. The other risk factors are high blood pressure, obesity, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high blood triglycerides.

“While not facing the potentially fatal conditions that a person with diabetes faces, those with prediabetes are still at risk for serious health problems,” says Isaac Corney, MD, of Trotwood Physician Center.

The most important way for a person with prediabetes to prevent it from becoming Type 2 diabetes is to eat a healthier diet.

And without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to Reverse Prediabetes

“The most important way for a person with prediabetes to prevent it from becoming Type 2 diabetes is to eat a healthier diet,” Dr. Corney says. He recommends avoiding processed sugars, eating more lean meats, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, and limiting calorie intake.

This, along with physical activity, can lead to weight loss, which is critical to reversing prediabetes and preventing diabetes. Ask your doctor for recommendations of a healthy weight-loss plan for you.

“If a person loses 10 to 15 pounds they can decrease their prognosis for developing diabetes by 50 percent,” Dr. Corney said. “Exercising 30 minutes a day at least five days a week is also one of the best ways to help prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes.”

And while following your physician’s plan to reverse prediabetes, you should have your blood sugar checked every one to two years — to make sure you’re making progress and that you’re not at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Small Steps: Budget Your Carbs.
You can still have foods you love, but sometimes it means cutting carbs elsewhere.