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8 Actions to Take if You Have Prediabetes

If your health care provider tells you that you have prediabetes, consider yourself lucky. Why? Because you likely have a provider who realizes that the earlier you take action, the better shot you have at preventing type 2 diabetes or delaying its progression.

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Changing the Path to Type 2

A whopping 86 million Americans have prediabetes. That’s according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- that's 37 percent of American adults over age 20 and 51 percent of adults over age 65. Research shows about 70 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes over time. Despite these scary stats, only 11 percent of people who have prediabtes know it. 

Are You or Someone You Love at Risk for Prediabetes?

The good news is you can prevent or slow the progression of prediabetes to type 2. Numerous research studies conducted over the last 30 years show that early and aggressive management with continued vigilance over time is what prevents or delays type 2 diabetes. And the earlier you detect it and put your plan into action, the better. Here are eight ways to manage prediabetes.

1. Get Tested to Know for Sure. Do you have family -- parents or siblings -- with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes? Are you carrying extra weight around your middle? Don't get enough exercise? These are a few of the risk factors for prediabetes. A good first step to see if you are at high risk is to use the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. You can take the test by visiting diabetes.org/risk. If you’re at high risk, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to get a check of your blood glucose level -- or, better yet, your A1C (an average of your blood glucose over two to three months). See the blood test results to diagnose prediabetes on the next page.

2. Max Out Your Insulin-Making Reserves. It's well known that at the center of the storm of the slow and steady onset of prediabetes is insulin resistance -- the body's inability, due to excess weight and genetic risk factors, to effectively use the insulin the body makes. Along with insulin resistance, the body also has an ever-so-slowly dwindling supply of insulin. Research shows that both insulin resistance and decreased insulin-making capacity start well before the diagnosis of prediabetes and years before the onset of type 2. It seems that some people's bodies can continue to make as much insulin as they need, while others cannot. A key to treating prediabetes is to put this insulin resistance in reverse and maximize your body's insulin sensitivity by losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Studies show that just 30 minutes of daily activity, such as walking, and losing 5-7 percent of starting body weight and keeping off as many of those pounds as possible can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

3. Trim the Pounds and Keep Them Off. Research shows that losing weight, even just 10-20 pounds, can accomplish near-miraculous health benefits: lower blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels, reduced blood pressure, improved cholesterol, increased energy, improved sleep quality (and decrease in sleep apnea), decreased pressure on joints, and even decreased risk of certain cancers, such as breast and colon cancer. To continue to enjoy these health benefits, it’s important to maintain as much of your weight loss as possible.

4. Be More Active. For starters, think about how you can fit more physical activity into your daily life. Can you take the stairs more often? Park farther from destinations? Get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way? Even consider longer routes in your home, office, school, and other places you frequent to burn a few more calories. Make a list and try them out. Also, decrease the amount of time you sit, whether on a sofa or at a desk or table. Research is showing that minimizing sedentary behavior is good for your metabolic health: your glucose, lipids, and blood pressure.  

Take the Diabetes Risk Test

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