Recently diagnosed with prediabetes? You're not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 84 million Americans have prediabetes and the World Health Organization estimates that globally the number of people who have prediabetes will reach 472 million by 2030. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of people who have this condition are unaware of it.
Prediabetes is a health condition in which blood sugar levels are above average—a fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes—but they are not high enough for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The good news is that a prediabetes diagnosis can be reversed and changes to your diet and lifestyle can help make a difference. Here's what you can do.
Assess Your Diet
Making changes to your diet and managing a healthy weight are the most effective ways to control your blood sugar. Small changes like increasing your intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables have been shown to effectively lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you're not sure where to start, ask a health care professional such as a dietitian to help you make a food plan. In the meantime, here are some strategies that you can start implementing today:
Cut Back and De-Stress
Certain lifestyle factors, like stress, drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking can make it harder to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Reducing stress is definitely easier said than done, but it's important to make time for yourself and take steps to manage it. Also, limiting alcohol to one glass per day and quitting smoking can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Instead of winding down after a long day's work with a few beers, try taking a walk, spending time with friends or family or meditating.
There's no doubt that exercise is great for everyone, but it's vital for those with prediabetes. During physical activity, the body uses excess sugar in your bloodstream and carries it to your cells and muscles to be used. In a study published in Diabetes Care, people with diabetes who exercised moderately for 30 minutes three to four times a week maintained healthy blood sugar levels for almost three hours longer each day than the non-exercising group—lessening their exposure to the damaging effects of high blood sugar.
If you are starting an exercise routine, build up gradually to get the total recommended 30 minutes a day (break it into increments if needed!).
Don't Go It Alone
Many of these changes are easier said than done, which is why it's crucial to have support. Talking to family and friends can help to relieve stress, but if you have questions about your diet that you need answered now, try Glucerna's Ask a Dietitian online chat service or find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area. A dietitian can weigh in and provide you with accurate information to help you along the way. If you have personal medical questions, reach out to your doctor and make regular appointments to track your progress.
Being diagnosed with prediabetes doesn't have to turn your world upside down. While it's normal to feel a little overwhelmed when facing something new, taking these steps may improve your chances of changing your diagnosis. You'll be surprised to see how a few simple changes can add up over time to a healthier way of life.