Let us discuss how to turn around prediabetes, a stage where blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be diabetes. We'll dig into what developing prediabetes means, the risk factors, how to spot it, and what steps you can take to stop it from becoming full-blown diabetes, keeping you healthier in the long run.

Key Facts

  • Fasting glucose levels of 100-125 mg/dL indicate prediabetes.
  • Family history, age over 45, ethnicity, PCOS, and sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk for prediabetes.
  • Increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow wound healing.
  • Check blood sugar levels upon waking, after meals, and before bedtime.
  • Prediabetes is reversible with lifestyle changes, and early intervention is crucial. Diet, exercise, and weight management are essential.
  • Reversing prediabetes can take months to years.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes occurs when the body resists insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. This resistance leads to higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes diagnosis indicates elevated blood glucose levels, not yet diabetic. It stems from chronic insulin resistance, with fasting glucose levels typically between 100-125 mg/dL. Without intervention, around 70% progress to type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar is measured fasting - when you have not eaten anything (below 99mg/dL is normal) and post-prandial - after eating (below 140 after 2 hours).

According to Cindy Guandalini , an APRN and nurse practitioner at Yale Medicine's Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Section, fasting blood sugar should ideally be 125 mg/dL or less upon waking. Levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL suggest prediabetes, while normal levels are below 100 mg/dL. Post-prandial measurements, taken two hours after eating, should ideally be below 140 mg/dL. Levels between 140 and 200 mg/dL indicate prediabetes.

Prediabetes is a condition where sugar processing is impaired, leading to higher-than-normal blood glucose levels but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Studies suggest some risk factors of prediabetes.

Factors Increasing Prediabetes Risk:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Age 45 or older
  • Ethnicity: African-American, Hispanic, etc.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • History of previously elevated blood glucose level or HbA1c measurement
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Cushing's Syndrome or Acromegaly
  • Sleep apnea
  • Previous gestational diabetes or having a baby weighing more than 4.082kg(9 lb)
  • Use of steroids, specific antipsychotic or HIV medications

Controllable Risk Factors:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Poor diet high in saturated fats and added sugars
  • Sedentary lifestyle with little to no regular exercise
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic syndrome (hypertension, high cholesterol, large waist)
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Lifestyle Changes to Lower Risk:

  • Quit smoking
  • Increase physical activity levels
  • Lose excess weight
  • Make dietary changes

Important Note:

  • Prediabetes can be asymptomatic yet harmful.
  • Approximately 84% of those with prediabetes are unaware.
  • Regular check-ups and CDC's risk test aid in detection.

What Are the Warning Signs of Prediabetes?

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow wound healing
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Darkened skin in certain areas (acanthosis nigricans)

Other warning signs:

  • Increased hunger despite eating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurrent infections, such as urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Irregular menstrual periods in women

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prediabetes screening test:

The CDC offers a simple online screening test to assess the risk of prediabetes. It evaluates factors such as age, weight, physical activity level, family history, and gestational diabetes history.

Best times to check blood sugar levels:

  • Fasting: Upon waking before breakfast
  • Post-prandial: Two hours after meals
  • Before meals
  • Before bedtime

These times help monitor blood sugar fluctuations and aid in the early detection and management of prediabetes.

How Do You Reverse Prediabetes?

Reversing prediabetes relies heavily on lifestyle changes, encompassing diet, exercise, weight management, stress reduction, and adequate sleep.

Dietary Factors

Opt for a balanced diet rich in whole foods, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Cut down on processed sugars and saturated fats, and avoid sugary beverages, sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and fried foods.

Reducing added sugar is crucial as it directly impacts blood sugar levels. Opt for nutrient-rich foods over sugary treats to support metabolic health and regulate blood glucose effectively.

It is essential to adhere to caloric restriction and a sustainable eating pattern or meal plan for a healthy diet. You can try intermittent fasting, keto, or Mediterranean. It's essential to initiate any diet under healthcare supervision to ensure safety.

Understanding food labels empowers you to make informed choices and monitor calorie intake for healthy eating. Educate yourself on serving sizes, sugar content, and nutritional value to make healthier food selections.

Exercise

Regular physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control and eventually helps reverse prediabetes. Engage in moderate-intensity exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes weekly. Include strength training to enhance muscle mass and glucose regulation.

Aside from structured exercise, integrate movement into daily routine. Take the stairs, walk during phone calls, or park farther away to accumulate steps and promote overall activity levels. Being physically active can also help you lose weight.

Weight Management

Gradual weight loss through portion control, mindful eating, and regular exercise is vital. Obesity is a major risk factor that exacerbates insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Even losing 5% of body weight can significantly improve blood sugar levels and overall health. Set achievable goals and seek support from healthcare professionals or support groups.

Sleep

Prioritize nightly 7-9 hours of quality sleep to support metabolic function and hormone regulation. Poor sleep disrupts blood sugar levels and increases insulin resistance.

Medication

Consult healthcare providers if lifestyle changes yield insufficient results. There are medications a doctor can prescribe for prediabetes patients to take to reverse prediabetes. A doctor may initially prescribe certain medicines like Metformin to lower blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk.

Overhauling lifestyle changes can be daunting, but you need to navigate this with others. Educate yourself on healthy choices, seek guidance from healthcare professionals, and consider consulting with nutritionists for tailored advice.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your journey is crucial for assessing efficacy and making informed adjustments. While occasional blood sugar checks are informative, excessive monitoring can induce anxiety. Focus on fasting blood sugar levels and consider continuous glucose monitoring for comprehensive insights into your body's response to dietary and lifestyle changes.

Holistic lifestyle modifications, including dietary improvements, regular exercise, weight management, adequate sleep, and medical interventions, play pivotal roles in reversing prediabetes.

How Long Does It Take to Reverse Prediabetes?

Reversing prediabetes varies in duration, ranging from a few months to several years, depending on individual factors and the effectiveness of lifestyle changes. Without intervention, prediabetes patients are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years for most individuals.

Conclusion

Prediabetes is a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, posing a significant risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Navigating the complexities of prediabetes demands a proactive approach towards lifestyle modification and health management.

Recognizing the signs and addressing modifiable risk factors through lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes, regular exercise, weight management, and adequate sleep are crucial for reversing prediabetes.

While the duration of reversal varies, early intervention and sustained lifestyle changes can mitigate the progression to type 2 diabetes, promoting better long-term health outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to have pre-diabetes and be unaware of it?

Yes, it is possible to have prediabetes and be unaware of it. Prediabetes often has no noticeable symptoms, which can make it difficult to detect without proper screening. Many people may have prediabetes and remain unaware until they develop symptoms of diabetes or undergo blood tests that reveal elevated blood sugar levels.

Is pre-diabetes the same thing as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose?

Yes, prediabetes is often referred to as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG). These conditions indicate elevated blood sugar levels below the diabetic threshold, with IGT reflecting higher post-meal glucose levels and IFG indicating elevated fasting glucose levels.

What do you need to score on the FPG test to be diagnosed with pre-diabetes?

To be diagnosed with prediabetes using the FPG (Fasting Plasma Glucose) test, your blood sugar level usually falls between 100 and 125 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). This range signals heightened fasting glucose levels, indicating an elevated risk of developing diabetes.

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. Yale Medicine Cindy Guandalini
  2. National Library of Medicine Utility of Hemoglobin A1c for Diagnosing Prediabetes and Diabetes in Obese Children and Adolescents
  3. National Library of Medicine Prediabetes and Lifestyle Modification: Time to Prevent a Preventable Disease
  4. Wes Path Prediabetes—Frequently Asked Questions

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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