According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC.gov), there are approximately 84 million people with prediabetes. 9 out of 10 (approximately 90%) of these people do not even know they have the condition. Left untreated, prediabetes can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The good news is that oftentimes, diet and lifestyle changes are able to reverse this condition. Knowledge is power!
Prediabetes is defined as a blood sugar/glucose level that is higher than normal, but has not yet high enough to meet the definition of diabetes. A normal nondiabetic fasting blood sugar is less than 100mg/dl. A prediabetes fasting blood sugar level is between 100-125mg/dl; fasting blood sugar levels above 126mg/dl may indicate diabetes. Chronically elevated, untreated blood sugar levels cause a myriad of health issues: chronic nerve inflammation, blood vessel irritation, and impaired tissue healing.
Personal risk factors for prediabetes include: overweight/obesity, age > 45 years old, immediate family members with type 2 diabetes, physical inactivity, and gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). In addition, race and ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans) may place you at a possible higher risk for diabetes.
Fortunately, the initial treatment for prediabetes is simple: diet and lifestyle changes. Research has shown that changes in diet and exercise can positively impact your health and well-being. For example, a healthy diet with an emphasis on whole grains, lean meats, leaf green vegetables and less processed foods can lower your risk of prediabetes. Regular physical activity- 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week- can improve your health, decrease your stress level and aid in better sleep habits. Finally, a mere 5-7 percent weight loss, combined with these lifestyle changes, can improve your glucose metabolism.
It is important to discuss your risk for prediabetes with your health care provider. A simple blood test, called an A1C test, can be done to determine if you have prediabetes. This test measures your average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months. A normal A1C level is below 5.7%; a prediabetes result is 5.7-6.4%, and diabetes is diagnosed with levels about 6.5%.
For more information on prediabetes, check out the personal risk quiz as well as the references below: