One out of every three adults in America now has pre-diabetes. Of these 84 million people with pre-diabetes, most of them don’t even know they have it - since there are often no signs or symptoms. Without taking action, many people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. Whether or not it progresses to type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes makes you more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke.
Look at this as a wake-up call that you’re on the path to diabetes… but it’s not too late to turn things around by taking action right away to lower these risks. Pre-diabetes can usually be reversed. Losing 5-10% of your body weight and doing 150 minutes of exercise a week (30 min/day) can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.
WHAT CAUSES PRE-DIABETES & TYPE 2 DIABETES?
The body breaks down carbohydrates from the food you eat into glucose (sugar). The hormone insulin, made by the pancreas, is responsible for moving glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of your body for energy. In Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, cells gradually become less sensitive to insulin and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to compensate (i.e. INSULIN RESISTANCE SYNDROME). As a result, glucose builds up in the blood. Having pre-diabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal—but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
It’s a combination of genetics and lifestyle that are proposed to be the culprit for this insulin resistance syndrome. If you are eating more carbs, sugar, and fructose than the body can handle – this sugar gets converted into fat that starts to clog the liver (contributing to fatty liver disease) and the pancreas (so it can no longer make as much insulin to bring blood sugars down). However, we understand there is also a genetic component to this disease that may make you more likely than someone else to develop diabetes, even if they have the same lifestyle as you. Because of this, you will sometimes see “thin” people that still develop diabetes – although it is more likely that this person has LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes of adult onset).
AM I AT RISK FOR PRE-DIABETES?
Across the general US population, around 40% of people are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Anyone can get pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, but some important risk factors besides genetics, age, weight, and lifestyle are:
- Being overweight – specifically abdominal fat – is the #1 RISK FACTOR
- Large waist size (Men with waists larger than 40 inches and for women with waists larger than 35 inches may be at increased risk).
- Eating processed foods, sugary foods and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Age over 45 years old
- Family history (for example - parents or siblings with type 2 diabetes)
- Race - African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Gestational diabetes or if you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Sleep issues, obstructive sleep apnea, or people who work changing shifts or night shifts
- Darkened skin on certain parts of the body (neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles)
Now even some at home genetic testing kits, specifically 23& Me, offer testing to identify certain genes that may increase your likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
The CDC and American Diabetes Association offer a test to identify if you are at risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Click here to take the test: https://www.cdc.gov/prediabetes/takethetest/
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PRE-DIABETES?
Blood Sugar Levels
If you think you have prediabetes or may be at risk, its best to talk with your doctor about having a Hemoglobin A1C drawn. This will tell what your blood sugars have been “averaging” for the past 3 months. Another option is to purchase a glucometer online or at the drug store and test blood sugars first thing in the morning before eating (fasting) and 2 hours after eating a typical meal.
A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes. A fasting blood sugar level > 126 mg/dL or a 2 hour after meal sugar > 200 mg/dL indicates type 2 diabetes.
Signs & Symptoms
Since sugar levels are not significantly elevated in pre-diabetes, there are usually no symptoms until full blown “diabetes” has developed. However, when sugar levels in the blood stream are elevated – common symptoms that may be an indicated that pre-diabetes is progressing into type 2 diabetes are:
- Fatigue, tiredness (since glucose isn’t being used for energy properly)
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
I HAVE PRE-DIABETES, NOW WHAT DO I DO?
The primary treatment for pre-diabetes is the same as what you do to prevent or reverse diabetes: lose weight, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. A diet high in vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil is associated with a lower risk of pre-diabetes. Additionally, physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. It is possible to reverse pre-diabetes by making these lifestyle changes.
A new study suggests that the type of exercise you do matters. If you do BOTH aerobic (cardio) and resistance (strength training, light weight lifting) this would be better than doing only cardio or only resistance exercise. Pre-diabetes patients who did resistance training combined with aerobic workouts for 24 months had a 74% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/dmrr.3143)
Click here to find a Diabetes Prevention Program in your area: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Programs.aspx
Other Treatment Considerations
Diabetes medicines are not as effective as diet and exercise. However, your doctor might prescribe medicine if you are at high risk for diabetes and have other medical problems. These could include obesity, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL cholesterol level, or high blood pressure.
STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Stress itself can cause high blood sugars – whether its physical or emotional. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help in periods of stress.
HERBAL, VITAMIN & MINERAL THERAPIES
Certain natural therapies (link to Early Defense product description) have clinical research supporting their use in type 2 diabetes prevention. For example, 100 mg/day increase in dietary magnesium intake is associated with a 15% risk reduction for developing type 2 diabetes. Increasing blood vitamin D levels reduced the risk of developing diabetes by approximately 70-81%.