While taking care of health is essential at every stage of life, nipping a disease like diabetes in the bud is even more critical for a long and wholesome life. Prediabetes is the stage when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but has not reached the level where it can be termed as type 2 diabetes. In simpler terms, you have crossed the phase of “prevention is better than cure,” but you are still in the phase of, “a stitch in times saves nine.”
The best part about identifying prediabetes is that it can help you take the necessary measures to halt the progression to diabetes.
What is prediabetes, and how can it be reversed?
As stated above, a high blood sugar level that is not high enough to be termed diabetes is called prediabetes. The ball is still in your court, and you can choose how to play it ahead.
The hormone insulin plays a significant role in maintaining the blood sugar levels in the body. The insulin secreted by the pancreas helps the cells of the body use up glucose from the bloodstream. In the case of prediabetes, the cells do not respond to the normal levels of insulin and do not use this existing blood glucose adequately. The blood glucose level thus remains elevated while the cells remain sugar-starved.
As a reaction, the workload of pancreas increases as it secretes greater amounts of insulin to help the cells fulfil their sugar requirements. At a certain point when the pancreas cannot bear the load of the overproduction of insulin anymore, the blood sugar level rises, causing prediabetes.
By making your body cells more receptive to the existing blood glucose, the amount of insulin needed will decrease. Also, as the cells start using the glucose, the elevated blood sugar levels will revert to being within the normal range.
Individuals with obesity, high blood pressure, age over 40 years, gestational diabetes or a family history of diabetes, should get themselves tested for prediabetes, as these are the most common risk factors.
Early detection of diabetes
- Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C): This test measures the average blood glucose level over the previous three months. When the HbA1C level lies between the normal (5.7%) and the diabetic range (6.5%), it is called a prediabetic stage.
- Fasting plasma glucose (FPG): This test helps in determining the blood glucose level when you are fasting for 10 hours. Prediabetes is said to be an FPG level between 100 and 125 mg/dL.
- Random plasma glucose test: This blood test is performed at any time when you have symptoms of diabetes. When the blood glucose is higher than 200 mg/dL, it is considered to be diabetes.
Prediabetes affects not only adults but also children. However, the corrective measures for reversing it are the same for all age groups.
Lifestyle change is the best method to reverse prediabetes. Start with small changes and then add on new habits that can help you improve your health status. The following measures can be incorporated into the daily schedule easily.
- Eat a healthy diet: Opt for food low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber content. Choose roasted, baked, and grilled foods and avoid fried foods. This will help you follow the diet plan for a long time without compromising on taste. Foods with low fats are often thought to be poor in taste, but this is far from the truth. You can add various spices and herbs to your food to spice things up a bit.
- Increase your physical activity: Aim at accomplishing a moderately intense type of activity for at least 30 to 60 minutes every day. Insulin works better when you are physically active, making its job easier.
- Lose excess weight: If your body weight is more than the normal BMI, start exercising regularly to lose some kilos so that you get into the healthy BMI range. Losing 5% to 10% of your weight can also help you reverse prediabetes. You can motivate yourself by reading about, understanding, and experiencing the positive effects of losing weight like a healthier heart, active life, stronger body, increased immunity, improved energy, and better confidence and self-esteem.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can increase your health risks for many things, not just diabetes. To quit smoking, you can follow some basic steps which are:
- Enlist your reasons to quit smoking.
- Consult your physician and ask about various methods and available treatments to stop smoking.
- Anything with a friend makes the way easier and more fun; try enrolling a buddy in this program.
- Take medications as prescribed: If your risk of diabetes is very high, your doctor may prescribe certain medications like metformin to prevent your prediabetes from progressing to the diabetic stage. If you are taking medications for heart disease, high blood pressure, or any other condition, make sure you take them regularly.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol: Your doctor may also monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis and recommend tests to determine your cholesterol level. If your blood pressure and cholesterol are higher than normal, your doctor may prescribe medications for the same.
Simple lifestyle changes like these can help you move closer to a healthier and happier life, one step at a time.