8 Actions to Take If You Have Prediabetes
If your health care provider has diagnosed you with prediabetes, consider yourself lucky. Why? Two main reasons: One, because you likely have a provider who sees disease prevention as a priority. Two, because your best shot at preventing the progression to type 2 diabetes is to take actions just as soon as you find out you have prediabetes.
A whopping 80 million Americans have prediabetes. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that's 35 percent of American adults over age 20 and 50 percent of adults over age 65. And research shows about 70 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes over time.
The good news is you can prevent or delay the progression of prediabetes to type 2. Numerous research studies conducted in the last 20 years show that early and aggressive management with continued vigilance over time is what prevents or delays type 2 diabetes. And the earlier you put your plan into action, the better. Here are eight ways to treat 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. First, if you haven't been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, find out for sure. Ask your provider to order a blood glucose or A1C test (an average of your blood glucose over two to three months). Check out the levels to diagnose prediabetes (see page 2).
If you want to check to see if you are at risk, use the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test: diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/diabetes-risk-test/?loc=DropDownDB-RiskTest
Unfortunately, of the 80 million Americans estimated to have prediabetes, 10 percent don't know they have it.
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. That's why the key to treating prediabetes is to put this insulin resistance in reverse and maximize your body's insulin sensitivity by losing or maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of daily activity, such as walking, and losing 5-7 percent of starting body weight can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 60 percent.
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 (and decrease in sleep apnea), decreased pressure on joints, and even decreased risk of certain cancers. How do you accomplish this tall task? You guessed it -- shed a few pounds, be more active, and eat healthier.
4. Be More Active. To start, 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 subway 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. According to Harvard Health Publications, for a person who weighs 185 pounds, walking at 4 mph (15 minutes per mile) for 30 minutes burns 200 calories.
Visit health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm to see what types of activities burn the most calories.
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