What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a medical diagnosis for those who have higher than normal fasting glucose levels; however, the levels are not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes, can cause long term damage to the body, including the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.
Prediabetes impacts one in three American adults (88 million). Approximately 84 percent of these individuals are not aware they have this condition. Oftentimes, after receiving a diagnosis, people think prediabetes is not that serious but in truth prediabetes increases the risk of developing a number of ominous health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes Risk Factors
Prediabetes means the body does not properly respond to insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas to shuttle glucose into the cells for energy use. In the case of prediabetes, the insulin is resistant to moving along glucose. The pancreas responds by creating more insulin to try to make your cells respond. Over time, your pancreas cannot keep up and causes glucose levels to rise. Prediabetes can go undetected for many years until a health problem like type 2 diabetes arises. It is vital to have blood sugar levels tested yearly, particularly if a person has any of the following risk factors of prediabetes:
- Age – Although diabetes can occur at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases once you reach the age of 45.
- Diet – Eating a lot of processed foods, sugary foods, and red meats can increase your risk of developing prediabetes.
- Ethnicity – Certain races and ethnicities are more likely to develop prediabetes, including American Indian, Hispanic, African Americans, and Asian Americans.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – Individuals who exercise less than 3 times per week are at risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Family History – If you have a parent or a sibling with type 2 diabetes, your risk of diabetes increases exponentially.
- Gestational Diabetes – If you had diabetes while you were pregnant or delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, both you and your child are at a higher risk of developing prediabetes.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at an increased risk.
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep is vital to your health. If you suffer from sleep apnea, your risk of insulin resistance is increased, which increases your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Smoking – Tobacco smoke increases insulin resistance and weight gain in the abdominal region.
- Waist Size – A large waist size increases the risk of prediabetes. Men with a waist size larger than 40 inches and women with a waist size larger than 35 inches are at an increased risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Weight – Individuals who have excess fat in their midsection are at an increased risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- You may also exhibit the classic signs of type 2 diabetes, which include patches of darkened skin on the knees, knuckles, elbows, armpits, or neck. Individuals may find that they have increased thirst, excess hunger, frequent urination, blurred vision, and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms or you are concerned about diabetes, contact your functional medicine practitioner and schedule a glucose screening test.
Prediabetes can affect numerous organs and systems in the body and can lead to health conditions including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage
- Skin Issues
- Vision problems, possibly loss of vision
Natural Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Prediabetes acts as a warning light for future complications, including type 2 diabetes, vision problems, heart disease, kidney disease, and much more. Luckily, numerous lifestyle modifications can reverse prediabetes and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise – Exercise has been shown to naturally reduce blood glucose levels. For best results, it is advisable to include 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. Some options include walking, swimming, biking, or jogging. Include activities that increase your heart rate along with strength training exercises for optimal results.
- Increase Fiber Consumption – Fiber rich foods reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes in several ways. Fiber can help with weight loss. In addition, fiber rich foods are satisfying and will keep you feeling fuller for longer periods, thus reducing snacking. Fiber also slows digestion, which helps prevent glucose spikes. Some great sources of fiber include whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
- Lose Weight – Being overweight increases your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Losing as little as 7 percent of your body weight can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. When trying to lose weight, opt for a healthy diet plan that includes nutrient dense vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits. Look for diets that include low glycemic index foods for best results.
- Sleep – If you snore loudly, wake up gasping for air, suffer from daytime sleepiness, or wake up with a headache, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder and it causes you to stop breathing periodically through the night and increases insulin resistance.
- Stop Smoking – Smoking increases the risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, lung cancer, and heart disease. There are many great quit smoking products or programs on the market to help a person quit once and for all.
- Water – Drinking plenty of water is a great way to reverse prediabetes and even prevent type 2 diabetes. One of the benefits of drinking water helps regulate glucose levels and is a great substitute for sugar laden beverages like sodas and fruit juices.
- Work with a Holistic Nutrition Counselor – Trying to figure out what to eat when you are prediabetic can be difficult. It may help to work with a holistic nutritionist who can help develop healthy meal plans and provide guidance on the foods that you should eat and which ones to avoid to stabilize your glucose levels and improve your health.
Holistic Approach To Dealing With Prediabetes
A prediabetes diagnosis is a warning of an increased risk of type 2 diabetes but getting the diagnosis does not guarantee you will develop insulin resistance. There are many natural lifestyle modifications you can make to normalize glucose levels to a healthy range.
Our functional medicine practitioners use a holistic approach for prevention of diabetes. In case you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, our experienced team can help with diabetes management and treatment.