A person with pre-diabetes has up to a 50% chance of developing full onset type 2 diabetes in the next five to 10 years. People with pre-diabetes have higher blood sugar than normal, but not high enough yet for a diabetes diagnosis.
The good news is that you can reverse pre-diabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes with intentional lifestyle changes like healthy eating and regular exercise. The result is a healthier body and an improved outlook on life. It’s well worth the investment!
The first time you hear the phrase pre-diabetes might be at your annual physical or wellness visit. Your doctor may order a blood draw and a basic metabolic panel (BMP) to measure several substances in your blood and provide important information about how your body uses food and energy. Fasting blood sugar and A1C levels are two indicators of your potential to develop type 2 diabetes.
Blood Sugar: What Does it Mean?
When you have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, it means the insulin in your body is meeting resistance when it attempts to deliver sugars into muscle cells, where they can be consumed as energy. Instead, the sugar remains in your bloodstream, which can damage your blood vessels.
Over time, high blood sugar causes cascading effects like nerve damage and poor circulation that can lead to amputation, kidney failure, and blindness. Managing diabetes is stressful and may cause depression. People with type 2 diabetes are also much more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Risk factors for pre-diabetes include being overweight, being 45 years or older, having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, being physically active fewer than three times a week, or having high cholesterol or triglycerides. Women are at risk if they had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds, or have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Race and ethnicity are also factors. Black people, Hispanic and Latino populations, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian groups are at higher risk.
Sweet Ideas for Lowering Blood Sugar
Walk a little
A 10-minute walk after a meal prevents blood sugar spikes after eating. Simple muscle contractions use glucose and lower blood sugar levels gradually, an important aspect of diabetes management.
Think before you drink
The beverage industry is relentless in its quest to pump more sugar into our bodies. From fancy sweetened coffee concoctions to sports drinks, juices, soda, energy drinks and alcohol, excess sugar not only increases our blood sugar, the extra calories can translate to weight gain. Consider infused water, unsweetened sparkling water or tea instead.
There is Hope and Help
If you have risk factors that lead to pre-diabetes, you can take positive steps to improve your outlook. It’s within your power to change the course of this harmful disease.
At ThedaCare, we’ve created a group to empower people with pre-diabetes to help manage their health and well-being. Taking Control of Pre-Diabetes is a free, educational, upbeat, and supportive class. We facilitate each session over Zoom and teach participants about healthy food choices, meal planning, portion control, exercise, and goal-setting. We work through problems that can get in the way of healthy changes and help participants stay motivated, including offering access to discounted YMCA benefits.
What’s especially helpful is that participants have email and phone access to a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the duration of the class. I especially love seeing the commitment and hard work from people I meet in our group. They come from diverse backgrounds and bring a common interest in living healthier, more intentional lives.
If you’d like to join our next free Taking Control of Pre-Diabetes class, we’re offering it from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. the following dates in 2024: Jan. 15, Feb. 5, Feb. 26, and March 18.
You may also want to investigate our separate year-long Diabetes Prevention Program created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and facilitated by local ThedaCare health coaches.
To learn more or register for pre-diabetes or diabetes prevention classes, please call 920-454-7912 or email LifestyleMedicinePrograms@thedacare.org.