Prediabetes: (What is it all about?)
Also called impaired glucose tolerance, Prediabetes is one of those medical conditions that go under the radar a lot. Be it lack of awareness or a carefree attitude on our part, this disease is a very big deal.
In this article, I will be walking you through a very quick note on prediabetes. Its cause, symptoms, prevention, and many more, so grab a glass of water let’s kick it off
WHAT IS PREDIABETES?
Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough yet to be classed as diabetes
prediabetes risk test sheet (image credits: CDC & ADA)
According to the CDC, about 96 million (1 in 3) American adults have prediabetes. It’s even more worrisome because the same report estimates that 8 in 10 people who have pre-diabetes do not know
Unfortunately, prediabetes has no clear symptoms and that is part of the reason why a lot of people have it without knowing until it must have resulted in type 2 diabetes
The following however are possible warning signs that you may have prediabetes or even type 2 diabetes:
- Frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Darkened skin in the neck, or armpit regions of the body
- Increased hunger
- Frequent weakness
CAUSES OF PREDIABETES
Both prediabetes and Diabetes itself are generally linked to a substance in the human body called ‘insulin’
It is a hormone produced by the pancreas to assist the entry of blood sugar into the body cells, these cells in turn uses up sugar as energy to perform their various roles in the human body
In certain circumstances, your body cells may start having abnormal reactions to insulin by becoming resistant to it.
The pancreas, in response, will be forced to produce more insulin to get the cells back to normal condition
the red blood cells (image credits: anirudh on unsplash)
While this will stabilize things momentarily, the pancreas cannot keep up with this high-level production of insulin for long and will eventually slow down
The result of that will be a decreased absorption of sugar by the cells which will ultimately leave behind a higher amount of glucose (sugar) than normal in your bloodstream
A blood test at this point may likely come out positive for prediabetes which when left uncontrolled will progress to type 2 diabetes.
In numbers, a blood glucose level of 70 mg/dl is considered normal while a range of 100 mg/dl – 125 mg/dl is prediabetic. Anything above 125 mg/dl is classed as typical diabetes
The following are some of the factors that could impact your chances of having prediabetes or full-fledged diabetes
- Being overweight: Obesity contributes to several health complications, and prediabetes is one of those
- Age: Age is a huge factor in the development of diabetes. It has been established that at age 45 and older, you are at a higher risk of prediabetes.
- Gestational Diabetes: As you may already know, gestational diabetes is a pregnancy-induced type of diabetes. You stand a higher chance of having prediabetes if you suffered gestational diabetes during pregnancy
gestational diabetes is a risk factor for prediabetes (image: megan lynette)
- Family History: You should be extremely alert to your blood sugar levels at any point if you have a history of relatives that have suffered type 2 diabetes in the past.
- Physical Inactivity: Lack of any form of physical activity over a prolonged period can contribute to prediabetes
- Ethnicity and Race: For some reason, certain races are at higher risk of having prediabetes (and diabetes) than others
African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, etc are all at higher risk of developing prediabetes in their lifetime than others
PREVENTION OF PREDIABETES
“Prevention is better than cure” may sound cliche but it holds for most things in life – including this. The best time to know if you have prediabetes or not is now.
Even if you do, the National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the CDC is designed to assist you in making lifestyle changes that could help prevent or delay prediabetes and other related health conditions
That said, the following tips can help bring down your blood sugar to an optimal level thereby keeping full-blown diabetes away
A drastic change is required in your diet if you are either at risk of prediabetes or have been diagnosed with it. This is very essential in your bid to prevent it from developing into diabetes or at least delay it
Instead of processed foods and high carb diets, go for fiber-rich foods, fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. While doing that, ensure you practice effective portion control
healthy food choices reduces the risk of prediabetes (image: farhad ibrahimzade)
Cut off sugary drinks, reduce alcohol intake to social events at best, stay away from foods rich in saturated and trans fat.
A nice way of ensuring your meals are healthy is by following the recommendations found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020 – 2025) (PDF 30Mb)
There are several advantages to adopting a healthy diet. Lowering the risk of prediabetes apart, it helps keep your body weight in check – which is critical in reducing the chances of insulin resistance in your body
Healthy eating is key in the general maintenance of good health and prevention of many health problems, prediabetes included, but it’s not enough
Exercises are effective in the prevention and management of prediabetes because they help lower your blood glucose level as well as enhance the absorption of insulin by the body cells
physical activity is a way of preventing prediabetes (image: Gabin Vallet)
The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities per week. They also went on to list these activities as:
- Brisk walk
- House chores
- Mowing the lawn
Ensure you speak with your healthcare provider to know which is most suitable for you.
This is because certain exercises may not be suitable for you if you have an underlying medical condition
We have covered what prediabetes is, the symptoms, causes, and preventive methods
If there is any takeaway from this article, it should be that you mustn’t wait to be diagnosed before making lifestyle changes that will keep prediabetes away
In addition to that, make healthy meals and regular exercise an integral part of your day-to-day activity
Lastly, we found this free test (pdf) by the American Diabetes Association and the CDC helpful. Make sure you check it out.