Prediabetes: Catch it, Stop it

If your healthcare provider says you have prediabetes, pay attention. It’s a wake-up call. Receive it as news you can use to become a healthier you. The good news is prediabetes can be reversed.

Research from the National Diabetes Prevention Program found in 58% of cases, diabetes could be prevented or delayed with a modest weight loss of 5-7% and 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. For people over 60 years old, the rate was 71%. For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html

Prediabetes is discovered with a fasting blood test. A fasting blood glucose (sugar) level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) is considered prediabetes, sometimes called impaired fasting glucose. A fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL is considered diabetes. Another test called a glycated hemoglobin (A1c) test measures the average percentage of glucose attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, over a period of two to three months. A range of 5.7% to 6.4% is considered prediabetes while a measure of 6.5% and above indicates diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 84 million Americans or one in three people have prediabetes, but 90% don’t know it. Developing prediabetes occurs over time with no obvious symptoms until serious health problems, like heart disease or stroke, show up along with a diagnosis of diabetes.

There are risk factors.

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds

To determine the likelihood you might have prediabetes, take this online test: https://www.cdc.gov/prediabetes/takethetest/  or print a copy of the test to take later: HERE.

If you find yourself at risk for diabetes, ask yourself how important is it to prevent diabetes? Is this something you should do or want to do? Wanting to do something is more powerful than telling yourself you should do it.

What about your commitment to change lifestyle habits? On a scale of one to ten (ten being the most) how much of a priority is changing your lifestyle? Where realistically is your commitment when using the same scale?  If there is a big difference, reflect on what is keeping you from making your health a priority.

Prevention is about lifestyle strategies and commitment.

  • Exercise after a meal to use circulating blood glucose to fuel muscle cells that need glucose for fuel.
  • Increase the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet. The healthy foods will slowly squeeze out the unhealthy foods.
  • Measure your waist. Waist circumference is a big clue for diabetes risk. A waist measure for men should be less than 40 inches and for women less than 35 inches.
  • Work on getting enough sleep. If sleep is a problem, talk to your doctor. Not getting enough sleep causes stress, over eating and inflammation.
  • Be patient with yourself. Change is often slow, but worth it.
  • Stop smoking if you don’t do anything else.

The YMCA, hospitals and healthcare organizations have teamed up with the CDC to present Diabetes Prevention Programs across the country. To find a recognized DPP near you, go to https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Registry.aspx. The DDP replicates the diabetes prevention research with a yearlong program to help people develop new lifestyle strategies to support weight loss through healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress and solving problems that get in the way of personal goals. The program includes 16 core sessions over six months, followed by six more months of supportive follow-up sessions. If you have Medicare Part B coverage and meet certain criteria, you may have coverage for the DPP.

For more information: https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/diabetes-prevention-program

A healthier you is up to you.

Written by: Mimi Cunningham, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Diabetes Educator

Mimi Cunningham is a dietitian-nutritionist living in Eagle, Idaho. Her nutrition specialty is diabetes education and management. She loves writing about embracing healthy eating as fun plus a route to good health. She serves as a member of the Idaho Foodbank board of directors addressing food insecurity as a challenge to good health for Idaho children and adults.

On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, our sincerest appreciation goes to Mimi Cunningham for her contribution to our community website and commitment to healthy living and aging.