According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 84 million American adults have prediabetes — that’s more than one-third of U.S. adults. The real surprise is that 90% of people with prediabetes do not know they have it.People with prediabetes can still prevent type 2 diabetes. The problem is that almost 90% of American adults with prediabetes don't know that they have it. Click To Tweet
The good news about prediabetes is that you still have time to make changes in your life to prevent or delay the development of diabetes. Don’t dismiss prediabetes; view it as a serious reason to make healthy lifestyle changes and a chance to prevent type 2 diabetes.
What is prediabetes?
If you have prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Prediabetes affects children and adults, and you can have the condition for years without knowing. There aren’t any noticeable symptoms of prediabetes; this is why so many people with prediabetes don’t realize that they have it. People often find out they have the condition while doing blood work for another reason.
Certain factors increase a person’s risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:
- Your risk for prediabetes increases with age.
- You are more likely to develop diabetes if someone in your family has been diagnosed with diabetes.
- High blood pressure increases your risk for prediabetes
- Certain demographics are at an increased risk for developing prediabetes: African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
- Physical inactivity puts you at an increased risk for prediabetes.
- Men are more likely than women to have undiagnosed prediabetes.
- Being overweight or obese increases your risk for prediabtes.
- A diet high in sugar, sweetened beverages, and processed meats is associated with an increased risk for prediabetes. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains lowers the risk for prediabetes.
- High triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and high total cholesterol levels increase the risk for prediabetes.
Why is prediabetes bad?
Don’t make the mistake of trivializing prediabetes. With prediabetes your blood glucose levels are below the threshold for diabetes, but this does not mean that you are safe from type 2 diabetes. People who develop type 2 diabetes almost always develop prediabetes first.
Having prediabetes also puts you at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Prediabetes can result in symptoms and complications of diabetes, especially when it goes undetected. If left untreated, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects the body slowly over time; too much sugar in the blood damages organs inside the body. Type 2 diabetes puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and kidney failure, and loss of vision. It can cause nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) which may result in numbness or tingling in extremities.
You won’t necessarily develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes; you can return your blood sugar levels to normal. However, it does mean that you must take action.
Counter prediabetes with a healthy lifestyle
It’s important to treat prediabetes before you develop type 2 diabetes. There are several changes you can make to your lifestyle that can help return your blood glucose levels to a normal range.
- Losing 5-7 percent of your body weight can help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. Find ways to add physical activity into your day, and make being active part of your daily routine. You need a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Roast, bake, grill, and steam foods, and avoid fried foods.
- Learn to read food labels and stick to proper portion sizes.
- Add more vegetables to your diet.
- Physical activity and exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, and it can help your body decrease extra insulin
- Give up smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and a contributing factor to type 2 diabetes.
Exercise, a healthy diet, and not smoking can help you maintain a healthy weight and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. Regular visits with your primary care physician is another effective way to counter prediabetes and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for prediabetes and to see if you should test for prediabetes. If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes make sure that you visit your primary care physician at least once per year to monitor the condition.