With Halloween around the corner and holiday season close behind, it’s safe to say that many of us will consume a little more sugar than usual over the coming months. Being responsible with sugar intake is important, as many of us may be prediabetic or at risk of prediabetes without knowing.
So, let’s go over the facts around preventing and managing prediabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a pre-diagnosis or “warning sign” of diabetes. It occurs when your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Being diagnosed with prediabetes is an indication that you may develop type 2 diabetes if you don’t make some lifestyle changes.
Diabetes develops very gradually, so when you’re in the prediabetes stage you may not show any symptoms. However, some tell-tale signs of prediabetes include:
• Being hungrier and thirstier than normal
• Losing weight, despite eating more
• More frequent urges to use the bathroom
• Increased level of tiredness
Causes and Risk Factors
Prediabetes happens when your body starts to have trouble producing insulin, which is what your body uses to transport glucose. There are several risk factors that make it more likely for your body to have problems producing insulin, including:
• Being overweight, especially if you carry extra weight in your abdomen
• Lack of physical activity
• Having a family history of prediabetes
• Race – African, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans are at a higher risk
• Gestational diabetes (developing diabetes while pregnant)
• Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
Prevention and Treatment
The American Diabetes Association says that serious lifestyle changes can help prevent type 2 diabetes, even if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes. Typical recommendations include:
• Eating well, and possibly working with a dietitian or certified diabetes educator to create a healthy meal plan that fits your needs
• Regular exercise which, along with the normal health benefits, allows your body to use more glucose
• If you’re overweight, starting a weight loss program as soon as you’re diagnosed
• If you’re at a very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes after being diagnosed as prediabetic, your physician may prescribe a medication, such as metformin
Prediabetes: What You Need to Know
Even if you’re not overweight or don't have any of the risk factors, your physician may want to start testing your blood glucose level every three years, starting when you’re 45. Your risk of developing prediabetes increases as you age, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of any blood glucose problems early.
Your physician can run either a fasting plasma glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test to check for prediabetes. Speak with your physician to learn more about these tests, and which one would be right for you.
Remember to eat healthy, stay active and don’t go overboard with the sugar this month!