Pre-diabetes - What You Need to Know
We hear much about diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, and how widespread it is - affecting 246 million people worldwide, a number expected to rise to 438 million by 2030. But what if you were diagnosed you with pre-diabetes. What exactly is that? How serious is it? How do you treat it? Let’s discover more.
What is Pre-Diabetes?
Pre-diabetes indicates someone with blood glucose levels which are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. For example, here are the fasting plasma glucose test levels for normal, pre-diabetic and diabetic blood serum:
- Normal: 60-100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Prediabetes: 101-125 mg/dL
- Diabetes: 126 mg/dL or above
Pre-diabetes is a fairly new term for what was once called “Impaired glucose tolerance” or: Impaired fasting glucose” (IGT/IFG). So why the new name? The answer is revealing because it indicates 2 key facts:
- The likelihood of pre-diabetes leading to type 2 diabetes is high because the symptoms, if visible, are similar, just less pronounced.
- Although the likelihood of pre-diabetes leading to full blown diabetes is high, it is not guaranteed. The development depends largely on the pre-diabetic, because many experts now agree that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle changes made during the pre-diabetes phase.
How Serious is Pre-diabetes?
Research suggests that pre-diabetes carries many of the same risks as type 2 diabetes, just to a lesser degree. Certainly, chronically high blood sugar that characterizes pre-diabetes can begin to damage the body's tissues even before the onset of full-fledged diabetes.
Indeed, such tissue damage and high blood sugar pre-disposes one to a 1.5-fold higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people with normal blood glucose. Pre-diabetics are also at risk of further complications characteristic of type 2 diabetes which include: blindness, kidney and nerve disease, circulatory problems and high blood pressure, loss of limbs and impotence.
Your risk of developing these complications are greatly increased if you are overweight and nutritionally depleted. Obesity and poor diet make your body cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This allows blood sugar levels to rise over time and can result in long-term damage to your body.
However, the great news is that having pre-diabetes does not guarantee you will develop type 2 diabetes or other health complications. So the question is not so much “How do you treat pre-diabetes?” But “How can you prevent pre-diabetes?”
How can You Prevent Pre-diabetes?
The same healthy habits that keep pre-diabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes can also help prevent it. These mainly relate to diet, weight and exercise.
A diet which prevents pre-diabetes is in essence an anti-inflammatory diet based on the following:
- It combines complex, high fibre carbs (like organic green veggies and fruits, whole sprouted grains and beans), lean proteins (like contaminant free tuna, salmon, chicken breast, wild game, raw eggs, beans, nuts, spinach and kale) and healthy fats (like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, eggs, wild salmon, sardines and grass fed animals) at a ratio of 3:2:1
- Magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Foods that have a low glycemic index and load, such as beans, lentils and true whole grains (like brown rice or bulgur wheat that are intact or in large pieces, not ground into flour).
- It avoids processed, simple carbohydrates, refined grains and sugars, including all HFCSs
- Balancing your blood sugar with 1. A nutritious breakfast with a focus on healthy proteins. 2. 4-5 smaller meals during the day, rather than one to three large ones. 3. No food 2 hours before bedtime
You can also benefit by supplementing with natural treatments. Particularly helpful is our Omega 3 / DHA Plus. It can help address root causes such as inflammation, efficient insulin production and secretion and strengthening of the liver and elimination of toxins.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the body. It helps glucose move out of the blood and into body tissue for use as energy. Excess body weight makes your tissues less responsive to insulin leading to high blood sugar.
Studies suggests that you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% through moderate, sustained weight loss (between 4%-5% weight loss for three years) and daily exercise.
Exercise alone decreases blood sugar levels by making your cells more sensitive to insulin. Regular exercise can help lower the levels of fat and cholesterol in your blood and lower your blood pressure. This will decrease your risk for heart disease, a common complication of diabetes
Choose exercises that you can enjoy regularly. The ideal combination consists of cardiovascular, weight, aerobic and interval training every few days. But even a daily 15-30 minute brisk walk will benefit you
The observation that vitamin D deficiency impairs both insulin synthesis and insulin secretion suggests that it plays a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Other studies have indicated that vitamin D may be important in the prevention of cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Ensure that you get plenty of sunshine and thus have adequate stores of Vitamin D.
If you've been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, see it as a major opportunity to change your course. The lifestyle changes described above can help you avoid becoming yet another sick diabetic statistic.
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